NAACP Blew ItEditor: I think the NAACP is making a mistake...


August 14, 1991


Editor: I think the NAACP is making a mistake in opposing the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. Judge Thomas, to be sure, came up the hard way -- and believes in self-help or self-sufficiency or whatever; but he certainly believes in civil rights, which is what the NAACP has always been about.

Without the relatively smooth passage that equal rights (as espoused so ably by retired Justice Thurgood Marshall) provided Judge Thomas, he probably would not be all he is today.

Judge Thomas basically opposes give-away programs; things like bussing, affirmative action and welfare, but I doubt he is demagogic about affirmative action. I am sure he received a leg up here and there along his upward path that he has not forgotten.

The NAACP and other liberal special interest groups should not underestimate our latest Supreme Court nominee. These guys can fool you once on the court. This country can always use a strong advocate of civil rights for all its citizens -- and when you come down to it, this is the fairest way to go.

After all, Clarence Thomas is black, and I am sure he will not forget his background nor his blackness. You blew this one, NAACP.

G. Denmead LeViness.


Boys vs. Girls

Editor: For many years, I have coached interscholastic sports in the Baltimore County schools and in various recreational leagues.

It has become obvious to me that once they approach puberty, the majority of males become faster and stronger. In recognition of this fact, all of traditional sports has allowed for separate competition for each sex, to assure a ''level playing field."

One has only to look to the Olympics, where separate world records are kept for men and women and men's records consistently surpass women's records. For those of us who wish to avail females of the same opportunity as men to compete, the answer is obvious.

Separate programs have been set up in almost every level of competitive sports. If a few males are allowed to compete in female programs, surely next year a few more males will compete in the same program to improve a team's success. In a short time, the program will be taken over by males in an attempt to achieve the American demand of ''win at any cost." Most females will be effectively shut out from most athletic programs.

Let the girls have their own softball league. If enough boys want to play softball, they can form their own league.

Iver Mindel.


Service Educates

Editor: As a parent and educator, I have to express my dismay at Roger Simon's rather adamant opposition to compulsory community service for Maryland students.

As a teacher in several different schools and, now, as a school administrator in a church-affiliated school with a strong service component, every year I've seen a handful of students who found out for themselves about the benefits of serving others.

These students volunteered at shelters, soup kitchens, hospitals and nursing homes and recognized that they probably were gaining as much or more than the people they helped.

In the ideal scenario, they would spread the word about their increased self-esteem, their sense of doing something that mattered. Eventually all the kids would be doing the same thing. This didn't happen.

We encouraged, praised, even mentioned how much their future colleges and employers would like this. It still didn't happen.

Students and teachers grew impatient and eventually we decided together to implement a 40-hour community service requirement for graduation. We felt that teaching students that they should give something back to their community was at least important as teaching them required U.S. history or four years of English.

In his disturbing and compelling ''Habits of the Heart,'' Robert Bellah maintains that the failure of our society (its own ''internal // incoherence'') is in very great part due to the fact that we are focused on our own individual needs, with little regard for the common good.

My experience would suggest that the necessary self-preoccupation of adolescence can be gently tempered with a forced focus on helping someone else. Many of our graduates return to tell us that their community service was in fact the most important feature of their experience at St. Paul's School for Girls.

I'm not suggesting that this is an easy idea. Most good ideas aren't easy.

Certainly the numbers will be difficult to manage and there will be students who don't fulfill the requirement, just as there are students today who don't pass algebra.

But there will be many, many students who will learn the joy of helping someone else, the pride of knowing that someone else needs and depends on you, and the habit of giving something back to your community.

Lila B. Lohr.


The writer is headmistress of St. Paul's School for Girls.

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