Rights bill aims at equality, not 'quotas'The Civil Rights...

the Forum

May 31, 1991

Rights bill aims at equality, not 'quotas'

The Civil Rights Act of 1991 being debated in Congress has vigorously revived the debate over affirmative action and quotas. Realistically, there should be no controversy, but politics usually obfuscates right thinking and common sense.

Simply put, affirmative action provides society with a mechanism to insure that disadvantaged groups have an equal opportunity and access to employment and education. Implicit in the concept of affirmative action is the notion that competing individuals have relatively equal qualifications.

Quotas, on the other hand, denote numbers. Ideally, government and private sector employers should reflect the local or regional racial or ethnic make-up of the population. What underlies the ideas of quotas is the fear that ability and talent will be ignored to achieve these numbers.

In any discussion of affirmative action or quotas the concept of equality cannot be neglected. Equality specifies sameness, parity or balance. Any mechanism that attacks and dilutes these concepts attacks the essence of what our system is about.

If we truly believe that "all men are created equal," then quota based standards have no place in our society. Selecting anyone on the basis of color or ethnicity with no consideration of ability is discrimination in its most odious form.

It is essential to give qualified individuals who are disadvantaged an opportunity to succeed. It is equally vital to make certain that we do not trample on the rights of any individual to fill a score card. The governing principle in the application of these two mandates is equality.

Carl Laverghetta

Columbia

Scapegoat Israel

Peace in the Middle East" by Al Jazira (May 23) was Arabist propaganda. His solution is for Israel to "leave the land in lieu of peace and recognize the rights of Palestinians."

Israel is the scapegoat for autocratic sheiks who are squandering the money of the people and suppressing their rights while blaming Israel. It is an old, old story. The sheiks need Israel to divert their subjects' attention while they mismanage and take oil revenues for themselves.

Henry H. Cohen

Baltimore

Showbiz news

I can't let Arnold Kleiner's Forum letter of May 22 pass without comment. His defense of Channel 2 news presentations is just so much self-serving rhetoric.

The news shows are a calculated mix of 50 percent show biz, 25 percent journalism and 25 percent commercials. After the exchange of guffaws and frivolities between media personalities, the viewers receive a homogenized news rendering that for the most part seems only incidental to the assemblage.

What WMAR and the other TV locals do is project their personalities, not the news they are there to report. These personalities are put together into marketing packages surrounded by commercials and report to a populous that has been nurtured on sugar-coated journalism that is more style then substance.

We have no one to blame but ourselves for accepting the slickly formatted TV magazine that is passed off as news reporting. One needs only to turn the dial to a PBS station to view MacNeil-Lehrer to get an idea of what a news reporting program is supposed to be.

I sympathize with those professional and competent news journalists who may feel entrapped within the show-biz format. I suspect many of them would like to tell Arnie what he can do with his big-bucks show-biz package that is passed off each evening as local news. But it pays the bills, and that's all that seems to matter in America today.

Joseph L. Bishop

Monkton

Saving Black Marsh

Your recent coverage of land use and environmental issues has been superb. I was especially glad to see your support for keeping the entire 1,310 acres at Black Marsh as a natural area. I have visited this natural treasure so close to Baltimore and thoroughly enjoy walking through the woods and marsh and along the Chesapeake Bay shoreline. We city dwellers need a peaceful place like that close to home.

I cannot understand why the state wants to develop the land and break its own rules by building within the critical area along the bay shore. An amphitheater, food facility and other structures would ruin the park. And how can the state sanction dredging a clean, productive wetland to build a pleasure boat tie-up?

We already have plenty of commercialized places to enjoy. But can't we also have a quiet, natural place to visit? I hope that somewhere in the complex bureaucratic system someone with authority will stand up and, for once, just say no to development.

Suzanne E. Chapelle

Baltimore

Forgotten hostages

How quickly we forget! Now the focus is on war veterans and the war in the gulf. But what about the hostages? Are they to be treated on the basis of out of sight, out of mind?

WK I find this failing interest in the hostage situation highly offensive.

Sheila Waters

Baltimore

Ex means ex

Why are ex-presidents and their wives and family entitled to Secret Service protection? Thousands of dollars of taxpayers' money are being wasted!

The prefix "ex" means just that. They are no longer president but ordinary citizens.

Bob Crooks

Baltimore

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