The Baltimore Sun

Nativist arguments betray core values

Here is one "full-blooded" American who grew up in a small Southern town but whose "full blood" was set boiling by Kathleen Parker's despicable screed ("The 'full-blooded American' voter," Commentary, May 15).

My wife may have earned a Ph.D. and two masters' degrees, served in the Peace Corps and taught a generation of American children, but by the standards Ms. Parker cites so approvingly, she can never be "full-blooded." Alas, her parents were from China.

My children may have graduated from Duke and Oberlin and the University of Virginia, live lives that are boons to humanity and a credit to their country and count a signer of the Constitution and Betsy Ross among their ancestors. But they may never be "full-blooded" enough for Ms. Parker either.

"It's about blood equity, heritage, and commitment to hard-won American values. And roots," says Ms. Parker.

The American values my children learned were that "all men are created equal" and that their inalienable rights include freedom of speech and religion and due process of law and that government cannot and human beings should not discriminate against people on the basis of race, sex or age.

Those values are clearly not the kind Ms. Parker is talking about.

She invokes some ill-defined form of patriotism not attainable by those who are not "full-blooded."

"Just as we once had and still have a cultural divide in this country, we now have a patriot divide," she says. "Full-blooded Americans get this. Those who hope to lead the nation better get it soon."

Such talk is beyond divisive, hateful and banal. It is dangerous.

The Sun has an obligation to present a variety of opinions. It has no obligation to legitimate purveyors of loathsome claims about whose roots qualify them as patriots or true Americans.

Ken Allen, Towson

The writer has worked as a volunteer for Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

I don't see how Kathleen Parker's glorification of "full-bloodedness" "blood equity," "heritage," "roots," and "those who trace their bloodlines through generations of sacrifice" can be construed as anything other than racist and nativist, despite her protestations to the contrary.

The perniciousness of her argument becomes clear when one fully parses her argument.

She begins by postulating that when Josh Fry of West Virginia and other voters say they would be more comfortable with a "full-blooded American as president," (as opposed to Sen. Barack Obama) they mean someone who "gets" America and its core values.

By the end of the column, this preference is transformed into an "antipathy... toward people who disregard the laws of the land and who dismiss the struggles that resulted in their creation."

It's difficult to see how either of these attributes could be ascribed to Mr. Obama.

So could it be that "full-blooded" means something else entirely to such anti-Obama voters?

I'm not sure which is more appalling: Ms. Parker's defense of the bigotry that lingers in our country or her suggestion that the candidates not only should pander to it but must do so in order to win the presidency.

Lucy Robins, Baltimore

So now the election may turn on who is a "full-blooded American" and who is not?

Kathleen Parker's ability to appall apparently has no limits.

How many generations of kin are necessary to be a full-blooded American? Shall we limit full-blooded Americans to those whose ancestors were here in the 1600s and were subsequently subjugated and culturally devastated by our forefathers?

How about those whose ancestors were captured, enslaved and put to work to build this America that Ms. Parker argues has "worked pretty well for more than 200 years"?

If your ancestors arrived following the potato famine in Ireland, are you full-blooded enough?

Please forgive me if I'm inclined to conclude that someone citing lack of "full bloodedness" as a knock against Mr. Obama is, indeed, a racist.

And this kind of language is simply a preview of the various language codes that will be used by Republican elites (yes, that's right, elites) to support four more years of Bush-style Republicanism in the White House by trying to encourage those rural, full-blooded Americans to vote against their own best interests.

I actually share Ms. Parker's belief that ordinary Americans will not be so easily fooled; but I believe it will turn out to be she who is the one being foolish.

Kathleen Minke, Bel Air

No way to run a major airport

One need look no further than the state's recent agreement not to collect $32.2 million in back rent owed by the airlines that use Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport to see alarming leaks in the fiscal ship of our state.

According to The Sun's article "State to cut airlines debt" (May 14), Maryland Aviation Administration officials overstated, apparently by a bundle, the square footage of the terminal they built for Southwest Airlines. As a consequence, they charged the airline less rent per square foot than they had intended.

The article goes on to cite other agreements between MAA and the airlines that "miscalculated operating expenses," particularly security and utility costs and capital projects and related interest payments "overlooked" in calculating airline fees.

One wonders what other operational undercharges are now lurking.

Adding insolence to apparent incompetence, MAA officials refused to discuss how such errors were made or how the state would make up the money it didn't collect other than to say that MAA "has recently hired new commercial management employees to promote better oversight of the airport's contracts."

But what seems clear is that this is no way for MAA or our state government to run a railroad, airline or anything else.

Jim Russell, Ellicott City

Illegal aliens abuse our laws

The Sun's editorial condemning the Frederick County sheriff for enforcing immigration laws highlights how out of touch both Sun editors and Gov. Martin O'Malley are with Maryland citizens ("A job for the feds," May 10).

Illegal aliens are, in fact, criminals living in our neighborhoods and communities.

Far from living in "the shadows," illegal aliens openly utilize our schools, hospitals, social services, and other taxpayer funded amenities as if they were actually citizens.

Under Mr. O'Malley they are also treated to drivers' licenses and taxpayer funded day-laborer centers where a taxpayer-funded, illegal-alien support group, CASA of Maryland, helps them find jobs - jobs they take from U.S. citizens.

The citizens of Maryland, facing record tax increases and budget shortfalls, can no longer afford this financial folly and lawlessness.

With growing illegal alien populations, gang violence and crime across Maryland, there can be no sanctuary for those who abuse and break our laws.

Brad Botwin, Rockville

The writer is the director of Help Save Maryland.

Talking to critics isn't appeasement

President Bush has confused listening to both sides of a dispute with appeasement ("Bush denounces talk to terrorists," May 16).

Terrorist acts are not defensible; no reasonable person condones attacks on innocent people as a valid form of political action.

But if we take the time to learn the reasons behind the attacks we may find that some of the complaints our critics have are valid and, by addressing those problems, be able to reduce the anger which leads to violence.

Bob Wirtz, Baltimore

Blocking freedom of Taiwan's press

Claire Dunavan's column "Drug safety crisis hits home" (Commentary, May 9) was a valuable reminder of the need for universal transparency in matters of international health.

Whether we are concerned with the supply chain of manufactured pharmaceuticals or the policies employed by the World Health Organization and similar institutions whose goal is to prevent the global spread of disease, every individual has a right to obtain information that directly affects their health and well-being.

That is why it is unacceptable for the WHO to bend to political pressure from China by barring Taiwan journalists from covering the annual World Health Assembly, which will begin Tuesday 19 in Geneva.

While seeking to avoid a possible political inconvenience to China, the WHO leadership is violating the core principles of a free press and undermining the letter and the spirit of the WHO Constitution and the UN Charter - at great cost to the transparency and credibility of their organization.

Eddy Tsai, Washington

The writer is director of the press division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative of the Office in the United States.,

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