DemocratsEditor: What ails the Democratic Party? Where's...


June 26, 1991


Editor: What ails the Democratic Party? Where's the vim, the vigor? It has finally stopped regurgitating Republican rhetoric, but it's time now to fight fearlessly for its own principles.

President Reagan ravaged the republic with his trillion-dollar deficit and trade imbalance; his S&L and HUD scandals; his fox-in-the-chicken-coop environmental appointments; his neglect of the cities; his laxity in gun control and drug trafficking and civil rights; his robbing of the poor to enrich the rich; his shameful legacy of homeless and soup kitchens in the most affluent nation on earth.

And with President Bush, we have more of the same.

Democrats are supposed to care about the country; to care that 34 million people have no medical insurance; to care that schools are not schooling and the work ethic isn't working; to care that the top 5 percent of the nation is wallowing in wealth while the impoverished proliferate; to care that the great cities of America are facing bankruptcy.

Sure, let us festoon with flags and preen with parades and thrill to the throb of Sousa's saxophones, but let us not continue to countenance the erosion of our country's well-being.

Rea Knisbacher. Baltimore.

Jewish Concern for Homeless

Editor: Letters and columns in The Sun have linked the deteriorating condition of the Holocaust Memorial with the plight of the homeless. This is an unfortunate attempt to pit the predicament of the homeless against the preservation of the memorial as an appropriate site of remembrance of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.

The Baltimore Jewish Council and The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore do not view efforts to deal with these two issues as being in conflict or mutually exclusive.

In our attempts to provide a place where all can mourn or pray in peace, where Jews and non-Jews alike can learn of what can happen when evil triumphs over good and where our youth can be taught that each generation must remember the painful lessons of history, we have never restricted access to anyone.

Nevertheless, problems in keeping the site attractive, clean and safe continue to cause us concern. In turn, the deplorable condition in which many of our most vulnerable citizens live has not been unnoticed or ignored by the Jewish community. For many years our stated commitment to the homeless and to poverty issues in general has been matched with constructive action.

Our housing task force, created two years ago, has brought together representatives from congregations and organizations to sensitize the Jewish community to the plight of the homeless. An education curriculum on the homeless, emphasizing community service projects, will begin this fall with teacher training workshops in Jewish schools.

Discussions are also under way between several congregations and Jewish organizations and the Coalition for Homeless Families and Children to create a support center for homeless families. In addition, our coalition efforts through the Maryland Alliance for the Poor and the Maryland Interfaith Legislative Committee have generated programs and initiatives that address the root causes of homelessness.

These activities have been combined with financial contributions by The Associated.

Obviously, such efforts, by themselves, do not represent a panacea for the tragedy of homelessness. Any solution to poverty, and economic and social injustice, requires governmental, religious and communal institutions alike to work together to right these societal wrongs.

William H. Engelman. Suzanne F. Cohen. Baltimore.

The writers are, respectively, the president of the Baltimore Jewish Council and the chairman of the board of The Associated.

Jesse Helmism at Film Forum

Editor: Mary Corey's delightful article, ''Artistic Odd Couple,'' mentioned my resignation as program director for the Baltimore International Film Festival. Since then, numerous people have asked why I would step aside from an organization I helped found 22 years ago and was so closely associated with.

What brought all this on was that two really innocuous films, ''Dick'' and ''We're Talking Vulva,'' were pulled from our opening night program. Both had local public arts council and National Film Board of Canada funding, reputable distributors and well-advertised exhibition histories at other film societies.

Yet all mention of them was deleted from our fliers, programs and press releases because some board members at the last moment thought the films or even their titles might prove to be offensive to the Baltimore Museum of Art, some of our contributors or to some segments of our audience.

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