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Criticism of oped as racist is unsupported

I do not in the least understand Kenneth Birnbaum's feeling that an oped by Christopher Ervin and Evan Serpick sounds “totally racist” and his statement that their piece is like something by Joseph Goebbels is over the top and not supported by its content (“Claim of a break between Baltimore’s blacks and Jews smacks of bigotry,” Oct. 23).

Mr. Birnbaum makes a lot of statements that have nothing whatever to do with the piece he criticizes, and he makes no effort to respond to any of the points it raised. I found none of them contrary to fact. Councilman Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer has, indeed, often failed to put the interests of his constituents ahead of his contributors' (and the environmental harm caused by that asinine development on a hilltop will be with us for decades to come). Plenty of constituents were annoyed by his arranging for that pricey patrol vehicle to be given to an organization that operates as much in the county as in the city and considered it an inappropriate use of our money. We are, indeed, concerned about safety and consider that there might have been more in places where it is more urgently needed if that vehicle had gone elsewhere.

Dalya Attar did send some offensive fear-mongering mailers. I was bothered enough that I wrote to her and she apologized for what she said was not the impression she had intended to create. If she is elected, I shall be watching to see whether she works for all her constituents or goes on creating impressions offensive to many. That both those candidates benefited by ethnic solidarity within their community should be obvious to any long-time observer of elections. Commenting on that is not racist any more than commenting on the Irish or Polish vote in 20-century Chicago was racist.

There is nothing wrong with group solidarity, but someone who proposes to hold office in a district comprising more than his own group should never engage in rhetoric or behavior that suggests that group is more important than the rest. Mr. Ervin and Mr. Serpick were right to express their concerns, and temperate in doing so, and calling them names was unworthy.

Katharine W. Rylaarsdam, Baltimore

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