Editor: One of the losers in the primary election, Peter Beilenson, is quoted as saying, "It's always been said about Baltimore that whites won't vote for blacks, but blacks will vote for whites. But this time people voted for their own race. It's a sad commentary." Why? Black voters decided to put one of their own in office as white voters have done for generations. When we learn how to play the game, someone always wants to change the rules.
Editor: Given the world that our children will live in as adults, the introduction of multi-cultural perspectives in school curricula an imperative. By the time our children begin to fill positions of leadership in their communities, people of color will make up a majority in many American cities and regions. For children who choose a business career, communication technology and international trade likely will require them to have frequent contact with people on other continents. We owe them the opportunity now to learn about other cultures and to understand different points of view.
The reason most often given for the inclusion of an African and African-American focus in the curriculum of Baltimore City schools is that it will raise the self-esteem of the school children, most of whom are black. This is a legitimate point of view. However, when the case is made using the term "Afro-centric" rather than "multi-cultural," there is a danger that the changes will unnecessarily threaten whites.
We might take a lesson from Northern Ireland, where many good people are attempting to resolve differences between the Catholic and Protestants populations. Traditionally, Catholic children have learned their history from a Catholic point of view and Protestant children have learned theirs from a Protestant one. In a desire to bridge the gap, educators are devising a new curriculum called "Education for Mutual Understanding." The problems in Northern Ireland are deep-rooted, and the new curriculum alone will not solve them. However, by carefully presenting the changes in terms of equality and mutual benefit, the educators have avoided alienating either side.
As a white parent, I think justification for the new city schools curriculum goes beyond its impact on black children. My children need it, too. All of our children need to know the history and cultures of Africa, just as they need to know about Asia, Latin America and Europe. After all, when they grow up they will meet, work with and perhaps live with people from those lands.
Tale of the Tolls: Stalin's, Ours
Editor: Western writers, like Cal Thomas in his Sept. 3 Opinion * Commentary piece, "Communism's Toll," have been attributing the atrocities committed by Stalinist regimes to communism for years. Only now they attack with the fervor of a rabid dog running wild, at the expense of providing the public with a full understanding of the issue.
Contrary to Mr. Thomas' assertion, the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution was mass-supported and relatively bloodless. What cost Russia 14 million lives was the Russian Civil War (1918-1920), in which renegade czarist troops were resuscitated with Western capital. Stalin took control of a weakened country in 1922 and communism as a political system in Russia died.
Nowhere in the writings of the likes of Marx of Trotsky will you find any support for Stalin's system of terror: one where murder, rape and political oppression became the means to gain dominance over a people. Sounds more like the history of capitalism in Africa.
A Bad Joke?
Editor: Is this some sort of a bad joke?
We moved back to Maryland in June after living for nine months in South Carolina. One of the first things we saw was this bizarre legislative map, gerrymandering at its worst.
This is something I would have expected to see in South Carolina -- the good old boys go to great lengths to protect themselves down there.
I am ashamed to be a Democrat in Maryland if we are now drawing a district for Rep. Steny Hoyer and offering Rep. Ben Cardin some new neighborhoods. The government was set up to serve the citizens, not to protect the legislators or the governor or business.
Representatives Helen Bentley, Wayne Gilchrest and Hoyer and every other elected official in this state should be elected or re-elected because they represent the interests of the people in their districts, old or new. Mrs. Bentley is not going to save the Port of Baltimore. It will thrive if it becomes competitive and is well run. She certainly doesn't represent me very well up here in northern Baltimore county.
The new districts must be drawn to represent the population, not party affiliation. Legislatures never seem to learn that gerrymandering generally backfires. Unfortunately, the ones hurt most are the citizens of Maryland, who deserve better representation than this and should probably vote the incumbents out in the next election and demand a good, representative government.