Arab StereotypeEditor: I strongly condemn the publication...


September 27, 1990

Arab Stereotype

Editor: I strongly condemn the publication of David Pryce-Jones's Opinion * Commentary article titled ''Arabs,'' Sept. 19. In spite of the author's muted clarification of his point of view, the message to the reader is loud and clear: The use of force is customary in the Arab culture.

Mr. Pryce-Jones writes, ''According to Arab culture, power belongs to whoever has the will and strength to grasp it. Victory goes deservedly to the strong, while the vanquished and the weak are to be despised.'' Pray tell me if this has not been true of any society or culture during any time of our history?

If in the past tribes established mutual relationships in this manner, nations do it today. It is not ''Arab'' culture, it is human nature.

Tribal societies of Central Asia, Africa, Europe and other parts of the world followed this rule of ''might is right'' for centuries. Battles are still being fought on tribal lines in the black townships of South Africa.

Crusaders fought amongst each other for power for decades before facing the Arab army. Precisely at that time, the Arabs were ruled by a centralized government. Not only that, Arabs have a glorious past of a thousand years of centralized rule either from Mecca, Baghdad or Damascus.

In modern history, Europe fought two world wars -- bloodiest of all times -- exactly following the behavior pattern Mr. Pryce-Jones attributes to the Arabs only. But what method did the Axis use to subdue and vanquish the weaker nations? Was it through diplomatic arm-twisting or an injunction of some supreme judicial body in Europe respected by all nation-states? It was sheer brute force and nothing else.

Mr. Pryce-Jones conveniently forgets this fact while stating, ''Western societies are based upon free association, government consent under the rule of law.'' The ''civility'' of the West is barely 40 years old if one does not consider proxy wars incited by the West or the Soviet Union since World War II. This time span is a fraction of human history to date. Too short to pass judgments on self or others.

Shahid Mahmud.


'Art'? Hah!

Editor: The funding by the National Endowment for the Arts of a photograph of a crucifix immersed in urine and other offensive "art" should encourage Congress to take a closer look at the way some other quasi-public bodies are using our tax dollars.

Consider, for example, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). For two years it reused to air a prize-winning documentary on how Fidel Castro has tortured and abused political prisoners in Cuba titled "Nobody Listened." It finally agreed to air a truncated version of the film, but it insisted on pairing it with a film portraying Mr. Castro as a great Cuban hero. The millions who are offended by this absurdity should demand that Congress investigate the programming of PBS before giving them any more money.

Frank Small.

St. Michaels.

Tax Legacy

Editor: The Sun's editorial of September 22 refers to the decision of Maryland's highest court clearing the way for ballot referendums in three counties as creating a 'disaster-in-waiting.'

Whatever disasters that might result from letting the voters have a say about their property taxes, it seems to me, those ''ruinous referendums'' can wreak no greater disasters than those now upon us.

The editorial asks the citizens a series of questions ranging from ''do they want good schools & community colleges to adequately stocked libraries, well maintained parks, fire departments and police protection, health services and so on up to and including a good bond rating. Then it proceeds to warn the voters that all of these things will be in jeopardy if citizens are allowed to vote on capping property taxes.

We've had uncapped property taxes for too many years. Yet our schools aren't even hiring qualified teachers or passing students with a good education. We haven't seen a decline in crime, quite the contrary. Who can afford any of these so-called ''health services''. Our parks and college campuses are unsafe after dark and our so-called playgrounds and recreational areas are breeding grounds for drug deals and child molestation. So much for what our uncapped property taxes have bought us.

The Sun editorial tells us that ''the siren song of lower taxes is a seductive one.'' Well, how about the dirge of higher taxes which is played tax year after tax year, not to seduce but to con and shackle the voter to more and more county government failure. While the Sun editorial hints wondrous things to come and attempts to weave a lovely dream of life in a world of higher property taxes all we have to do is look around us and evaluate what uncapped property taxes have bought so far.

Stanley M. Bell Jr.


Ward's Remarks

Editor: The hullabaloo that has been raised about Judge Thomas Ward's recent instructions to prospective jurors is misdirected. While the judge's remarks may offend some, they distinctly reflect the attitude of the public toward the legal profession in general.

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