The American idea embraces diversityIn Arthur M...

the Forum

November 27, 1992

The American idea embraces diversity

In Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.'s book, "The Disuniting of America," recognition of the achievements of women, Afro-Americans, Asians, etc., in college curricula was long overdue.

But the cult of ethnicity, with its repudiation of "dead, white, European males" and its dismantling of the Western heritage, has gone beyond the correction of history to distortion.

Afrocentrics assert linkage to ancient Egypt, which they contend was a black African country and the source of the science and philosophy attributed to Greece. Schlesinger cites classicists and Egyptologists in refutation.

With Schlesinger, black historians affirm that, despite their roots in Africa, American blacks are the product of centuries of acculturation in America and that the wellspring of American culture is Europe.

The very foundation of our republic is derived from the European Enlightenment. The rule of law, due process, freedom of press, speech and religion, etc., are Western ideas -- ideas in which great black Americans such as W.E.B. DuBois and Martin Luther King Jr. found inspiration. Yet, in most colleges, the history of Western civilization is no longer required.

The West, as all regions, has been guilty of heinous deeds. But the West has also been the vanguard in abolishing slavery and child labor, bettering workers' condition, raising women's status and instituting democracy, to which the nations of the world aspire.

Multicultural zealots spurn dedication to a set of principles -- liberty, equality, justice. But these tenets, however imperfectly realized, comprise the bonds of unity. The militant jockeying of groups puts the Unum in "E Pluribus Unum" at risk and fosters a rancorous Balkanization a la Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, etc.

Rights belong to individuals, not to groups.

The genius of America must remain the capacity to forge one nation from a miscellany of racial, religious and ethnic backgrounds -- with mutual respect cross-fertilizing and enriching all.

Rea Knisbacher

Baltimore

Valley preservation

Cromwell Valley, located just outside Towson, is a unique tract of land that should be preserved. Anyone who has driven on Cromwell Bridge Road has had the opportunity to appreciate the natural splendor of the Cromwell Valley.

The valley is made up of several different parcels of undeveloped countryside. The Merrick property, which consists of over 200 acres and forms most of the valley, is threatened by development. It is the only remaining green space outside of Towson and serves as a corridor to the Gunpowder River as well as Loch Raven Reservoir.

Citizens want to preserve this valley and are willing to work with the state and Baltimore County to make this dream a reality.

We know that Gov. William Donald Schaefer is in favor of #F maintaining open space in Maryland. The preservation of Cromwell Valley is an ideal opportunity for the governor to show his support for open space.

The public surely will benefit if the valley is maintained as green space. The land can be used for projects such as parks and recreation facilities or even nature-oriented learning centers for children.

Saving this land comes at a time when natural resources have been extremely scarce. Once developed the land will be lost forever. Cromwell Valley must be saved for this generation as well as future generations.

Laura C. Jenifer

Baltimore

PD The writer is president of the Campaign to Save Cromwell Valley.

Waiting time

I write in reference to your article "City plans to fight truancy" (Nov. 14). The program described employs community people in solving this community problem.

However, as noted, the telephone and letter-writing attempts made by the schools have not succeeded in ameliorating the truancy problem to date.

My clients often keep their children with them (out of school) when they have medical appointments, because the waiting times are so unpredictable and onerous that the mother must protect against the possibility of a child returning home from school to an empty apartment.

I have personally verified waiting times of four hours for 15 minutes of provider time. This horrendous scenario was repeated three times in one week for one of my clients who had a serious but routine medical condition.

The problem of lack of accountability on the part of these institutions for the difficulties faced by young mothers raising rTC children alone is maddening.

This extends to welfare institutions, the courts, etc. and is compounded by a slow, however costly (and about to become costlier), transportation system.

The genesis of the lack of respect for school attendance shown by Baltimore's record-breaking number of truant teen-agers begins with these childhood experiences, where school attendance is second to other pressing needs.

Until our health and other institutions can be held accountable, a program to prevent truancy in school children should include a supportive, empathetic, helping program for parents.

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