Uncivil WarfareOne reading of the newspaper or one viewing...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 13, 1992

Uncivil Warfare

One reading of the newspaper or one viewing of the television news will reveal to the average American that we are a society divided. Cleaved into so-called pro-lifers and pro-choicers, we've launched a war to legislate the enemy out of existence.

The problem is that the enemy is us; and in this civil war, our cantankerous protests, full of shouting but void of listening, have gotten us nowhere. The anti-debates such as we watch on "Nightline" and "Face the Nation" have only befuddled the abortion issue with acrimonious, back-and-forth insult hurling.

Most often, our strategy, though innocuous, is to instill fear in the opposing force. For pro-lifers, this is the fear of God, which is used as a battle-ax for stamping out heathenish abortion seekers. For pro-choicers, the fear tactic means feminist tirades aimed at pushing conservatives over that frail line into cardiac arrest.

In my earnest view, however, there is still hope for our debate. Though it doesn't come from watching the Supreme Court fumble around for legitimacy while its members write and rewrite our laws.

Rather, we must see for ourselves, as evidenced by our labels, that we are not truly polarized: to wit, the opposite of pro-choice is no-choice, a position that neither President Bush nor most Americans advocate in every circumstance.

Likewise, the opposite of pro-life is pro-death, a position that no one urges, least of all a woman in the infelicitous circumstance of seeking an abortion.

When we stop castigating radical straw men, we are likely to find a centered and moderate debate, and perhaps make progress.

David Dwyer Corey

Baltimore

Not 'Bereft'

I read Tim Baker's Opinion * Commentary column, "Wounded Men and the Search for Manly Virtues," (The Sun, June 29) with considerable interest but with little sympathy.

Mr. Baker displays little respect for language or feminism. Mr. Baker writes that "men haven't even established a position from which to defend themselves against the vilification of their maleness."

Vilification, the Oxford English Dictionary tells us, is "the action of vilifying by means of abusive language." To "vilify" is of course "to make vile," "deserving to be regarded with abhorrence or disgust." Is this really what feminism is all about?

Mr. Baker also claims that "men are philosophically bereft." Really? "Bereft" means to be "forcibly deprived or robbed of something." One must be bereft of something.

I'm sorry. The word is a participial adjective. Please! Finish the sentence. I'm dying to know the object of his bereavement. Philosophy? Surely Mr. Baker doesn't mean to suggest that feminism has forcibly deprived him of philosophy. I know he must be feeling a little defensive. It must be his raging hormones.

However, I am more concerned with the claim that "[t]he feminist movement has developed a coherent body of ideas . . ." Such a claim is a masculinist slap in the face. Liberal feminism, radical feminism, psychoanalytic feminism, Marxist feminism, lesbian separatism and many other feminisms are distinct threads that are perhaps woven into an intricate tapestry that is feminism. To speak of feminism as having "a coherent body of ideas" is to think of feminism as bereft of richness and subtlety. It is not.

As one man speaking to another, I want to say to Mr. Baker: Don't be so quick to interrupt the conversation. You're not listening. You're too busy thinking of what you want to say next. Shut up and listen, at least for a couple of generations.

James Snow

Baltimore

Jacob Beser

The Sun recently carried an obituary on Jacob Beser as well as a feature column discussing his participation in the two atomic bombing raids carried out against Japan during World War II. These events in his life were certainly significant and noteworthy; however, there were other sides to this man.

I had the pleasure and good fortune of working under Jake as a relatively young design engineer on a defense contract at Westinghouse in the early 1960s.

While this was also Jake's first assignment in such a position, his manner of leadership and direction -- a combination of trust in the abilities of the members of his team to carry out their assignments with a high degree of freedom coupled with a level of review which precluded their getting too far off base to preclude a graceful recovery -- left an indelible mark on me as a prudent way for a leader to run a program.

Both I and a number of others tried to emulate this approach throughout our careers, I believe to the benefit of not only the company but also the country and the younger people we had the privilege to lead.

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