LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

'Peace heroes' may lead us astray

Charles Derber and Yale Magrass write in their column "Rethinking 'war hero'" (Commentary, April 21) that "The peace hero - even more than the war hero - should be the ultimate moral force in the world we now inhabit."

I wonder what "ultimate moral force" peace heroes such as folk singer Pete Seeger and entertainer Paul Robeson showed by supporting the 1939 Nazi-Soviet Pact, which consigned Poland's Jews to the Final Solution and a large portion of Poland's officer corps and technical elite to the Katyn Forest Massacre at the hands of the Soviets?

Their moral actions involved slandering President Franklin Roosevelt as a warmonger for having the temerity to support Great Britain against Germany and its short-term ally, the Soviet Union.

Their idea of "peace" in that case ended up carrying water for Joseph Stalin, even if it meant supporting Adolf Hitler. What ultimate moral force did Vietnam-era peace activists such as Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda display?

Their efforts helped bring about the collapse of the government of South Vietnam, which led to Orwellian re-education camps in postwar Vietnam, along with the Vietnamese Boat people and the genocide by the Khmer Rouge.

Mr. Derber and Mr. Magrass are well within their right to question the morality of going to war. This is, indeed, a legitimate concern for our republic.

However, investing ultimate moral authority in peace activists, while being blind to the dangerous consequences of their advocacy of a false peace, breeds moral relativism and, worse, a lack of resolve to understand that there are times when we must stand and fight.

Mark Newgent, Baltimore

Take a hard look at Syria charges

Accusations about a Syrian nuclear program appear to bear out the concerns expressed by hard-liners in the Bush administration ("White House claims N. Korea-Syria link," April 25).

The construction of a facility close to the Iraqi border under mysterious circumstances and its destruction last September is a story that would make a novelist envious.

But before this incident becomes the raison d'etre for another pre-emptive war, Congress should take a hard look.

If the plant was started in 2001, why did it take so long for the White House to denounce its purpose? And given the intense surveillance of Syria by American and Israeli intelligence, how did Damascus expect to keep it a secret?

With unrelenting American pressure and the threat of regime change, would a cautious Syrian President Bashar Assad invite military action by going nuclear?

Nuclear nonproliferation is a worthy goal. Before we take the high moral ground, however, it would enhance our international support and standing if we did something about the only Mideast country that has a nuclear arsenal and delivery system - Israel.

Without universal compliance, America's call for a nuclear-free Near East smacks of hypocrisy.

Joseph Elias, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Article ignored struggles of Israel

I read with great dismay The Sun's Sunday article on the plight of the Palestinians and their dream of their own state ("The Palestinians' melancholy anniversary," April 27).

While I empathize with the account of their troubles, I strongly disapprove of this article because it said not a word about the plight of Israel, which has been fighting for its existence since it became a state in 1948.

A strip of barren desert has been transformed into a beautiful land in an effort to fulfill the dreams not only of Holocaust survivors but individuals of many religions.

Since 1948 Israel has fought many wars, and it probably faces more to come. And, as for the plight of the Palestinians awaiting a state of their own, there are always two sides to every story.

Freda Garelick, Baltimore

'Alcopops' bill deserves a veto

The Maryland chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics supports The Sun's powerful editorial on the state's "alcopops" legislation ("Not near beer," April 29).

According to the Youth Risk Behavior Study in Maryland, more than 80 percent of high school seniors have used alcohol, and more than 20 percent drink more than twice a month.

Alcohol has been shown to have permanent effects on developing brains and to lead to other risky behaviors.

A veto of this legislation would encourage more thoughtful consideration about how alcohol is marketed to kids.

We support The Sun 's view that Gov. Martin O'Malley should take a stand and not allow the alcopops bill to pass.

Dr. Dan Levy, Baltimore

The writer is president of the Maryland chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Bisphenol shown to be quite safe

The Sun's article "Study raises concerns on chemical, cancer" (April 16) and several reports released in April may cause confusion and unnecessary alarm about Bisphenol-A (BPA).

It's important for Sun readers to know that the National Toxicology Program report indicated that the effects of BPA fell into the government's lowest possible risk ranking.

In fact, the U.S. government has studied the health effects of BPA exposure for more than 40 years, and the overwhelming body of scientific evidence continues to prove that actual exposure to the levels of bisphenol found in some consumer food and beverage containers has no adverse effect on humans of all ages.

The Food and Drug Administration, the European Food Safety Authority and the World Health Organization have all evaluated and approved the safety of minimal amounts of BPA used in plastic containers.

And consumers can rest assured that they can continue to safely enjoy foods and beverages in the many forms of packaging that use it, without changing their purchasing or eating patterns.

Robert E. Brackett, Washington

The writer is a senior vice president and chief science and regulatory affairs officer for the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

Let county leaders also forgo raises

Since Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. and the County Council deem it appropriate to deny cost of living increases to the rank-and-file Baltimore County employees, I urge them to apply the same austerity plan to all executives and administrators ("Pay raises supported in Balto. Co." April 30).

If county workers are denied such modest increases in their minimal salaries, it would be unconscionable to bestow any increases to any executives or administrators.

Times are tough. But it's completely unfair to punish only the people who keep Baltimore County functioning day-to-day.

Such shenanigans are simply stealing from the poor to give to the rich.

Timothy Kjer, Hunt Valley

The writer is a teacher in the Baltimore County public schools.

Investing in care pays big dividends

What a heartwarming article about Lisa Shelton's quest for and success in finding funds to set up a day care facility in Rosemont-Walbrook ("Mom's vision becomes a caring reality," April 16).

Imagine what our society might be if there was a network of such centers caring for young children.

Consider how much could be saved in the future by spending now so that children might grow up being loved and schooled rather than neglected, their minds undeveloped, their habits not structured toward becoming good citizens.

Wouldn't it serve us well to allocate whatever dollars it takes to help kids at the front end of their lives rather than spending considerably more dollars at the back end to pay for remedial education, substance abuse, judicial and incarceration services?

How can we not see this, and not act on that knowledge?

Judy Chernak, Pikesville

The writer is day care director for a company that runs day care programs in the Baltimore and Baltimore County public schools.

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