Founding MythEditor: At a time when the majority of...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 21, 1991

Founding Myth

Editor: At a time when the majority of Americans were in favor of the war against Iraq, Ray Jenkins chose to publish some

unpopular opinions concerning our nation's history and belief in its own moral superiority. After an extremely negative and totally predictable reaction, he again had the courage to express his opinions in print. I congratulate him.

Concerning the overwhelming reaction to his opinions, allow me to quote from Marie-France Toinet, author of ''Does Anti-Americanism Exist'':

''. . . the majority of Americans feel that they have succeeded as a nation and are therefore intimately convinced of American superiority. To them it is as plain as a pikestaff and they say as much with varying degrees of openness. Political institutions in America operate more democratically, and the rights and freedoms of the individual command greater respect. Quite simply, Americans are freer than anyone else and comparisons with other countries cannot fail to reflect favorably on the United States. Hand in hand with self-satisfaction, however, there goes an unspoken and vague anxiety about the permanence of what has been achieved. Any suggestion that American society might actually be affected by social struggles, national interests, racism or xenophobia, not to mention religious quarrels or ideological controversy, compromises the founding myth of the American nation, and is un-American.''

In my opinion, Ms. Toinet's analysis is very insightful and gives a thought-provoking perspective on our unfortunate tendency to question the patriotism of anyone who doesn't agree with the majority opinion.

George J. McCool.

Timonium.

Envy's Society

Editor: George F. Will's word selection seems to be slipping of late. I refer to his article about Kitty Kelley's book on Nancy Reagan (April 15), wherein he speculates about the reason why people enjoy seeing famous names muddied. He suggests it has ''something to do with the prevalence of envy in a democratic society.''

I would suggest that the correct term is not ''democratic'' but ''capitalistic.'' For it is capitalism, not democracy, which generates the gross inequalities that give rise to envy.

There was apparently a time when capitalism was kinder and gentler; but those days are long gone, and capitalism cannot be so easily equated with democracy as it once was.

Surely this is something Mr. Will understands.

Howard Bluth.

Baltimore.

Give Both Sides

Editor: I am writing in regard to the article about the University of Maryland foundation that appeared in The Sun March 24. The article, unfortunately, seemed to be biased against the Foundation. I have been in higher education for 27 years and the foundation is one of the best organizations that I have seen.

I have run short courses for industry through the foundation. The funds generated have been used to support graduate students and to buy equipment. By using my foundation funds I have been able to launch into a new research area, neural computation, much faster than would have been possible if I had to wait for federal or state funding. This neural network research was in turn generated additional industrial support.

In the coming decade we face budgetary problems at both the federal and state levels. We also face significant competition from abroad. The foundation provides a vehicle for obtaining industrial funding and for bringing industry and university dTC researchers together. A by-product of this relationship is the funding which flows into the Maryland economy. Our department currently has about $400,000 of industrial support.

I feel that when a story is done, every attempt should be made to get both sides. In the present case I don't believe that this was done.

Thomas J. McAvoy.

College Park.

The writer is acting chairman of the department of chemical engineering at the University of Maryland.

Wrong Targets

Editor: It is hard to disagree with Barry Rascovar's premise (Opinion * Commentary, April 7) that the 1991 General Assembly session produced little. However, his placing the blame where he did left a lot to be desired.

To begin with, Maryland voters made it clear in the last election that they would not stand still for increased taxes. Implicit in this is the very sound notion that nice-to-have and overtly wasteful programs should be eliminated before any increase in any tax is considered.

Neither house paid any attention to House Bill 1158, which mandated a commission on efficiency in Maryland government, a proposal that could at least restore a little trust in our elected officials. As long as the electorate allows Governor Schaefer and the General Assembly to emphasize the tax side of the equation without a very critical look at the spending side, taxes will continue to rise all but unchecked.

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