TCCity should revive displays at Pratt libraryOnce there...

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June 09, 1993


City should revive displays at Pratt library

Once there was a proud walk along Cathedral Street. It stretched a block, had one building only, the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

The walk featured the library's 12 windows, high and deep and arresting, showing and telling what was going on in the city.

Who before had done that, given such care and attention to such matters? Such windows and displays a half-century ago were revolutionary. Then from over the country, from over the world, librarians came and saw and copied. It was a proud time.

Kate Coplan, who died the other day, had much to do with the early windows and their fame.

"If you are in Baltimore," Gerald Johnson once said, "and you wish to know what is going on in the city, you have only to take a stroll of one city block between Franklin and Mulberry."

Kate Coplan left the Pratt and public relations years ago, but her successors carried on the proud windows for years. Until --

Baltimore became the City That Reads.

And the Pratt did what it could to uphold the slogan. But did the city? Somehow the city's money for the library faded.

And the once-proud windows faded too, lost their flair and grace of earlier years.

Some small fault may be Pratt's fault, some much larger fault is more likely the city's fault. It is a matter of money.

Perhaps it is good that Gerald Johnson and Kate Coplan are no longer around to see. If the city really means it is the City That Reads, if the city really cares, it should get the Pratt windows back on track. It should make the walk along the library proud once again.

Franklin Mason


Talk is cheap

"There is no underestimating the intelligence of the American public," a quote attributed to H. L. Mencken, is reinforced daily by the phenomenon known as "the radio talk show."

These spectacles of the electronic media are conducted by "T. J.'s" (talk jockeys) and counsel is given on any topic from the existence of a deity to the elimination of crab grass. The stock in trade of these "T. J.'s" is controversy. The greater the controversy, the more calls; the more calls, the higher the ratings; the higher the ratings, the larger the compensation.

The "yahoos" who call these shows express their views regardless of how vacuous and incogitant they may be, safe in the anonymity that is a prerequisite of the format. Unlike a "Letter to the Editor," they take no responsibility for what they say.

The redeeming feature of this scenario is that some local radio stations have refused to yield to the temptation to follow "the mob" into this nescience, so we can merely change the dial setting to rid ourselves of the claptrap.

. Bernard Hihn


War memorial

Some Americans are taking President Clinton to task for speaking at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial because he protested the Vietnam War as a young student.

Our government's war against the people of Southeast Asia was wrong, dead wrong. The hundreds of thousands of patriotic Americans who marched and lobbied against this unilaterally waged, illegal and immoral war should be honored, not vilified. Dissension is not disloyalty.

The ugly phrase "giving aid and comfort to the enemy" doesn't wash. Our government was the enemy -- we were over there bombing them, they were never here bombing us.

And just as we mourn the 52,000 courageous Americans who died, let us also mourn the untold millions of Southeast Asians who also died. The responsibility for the racist devastation, murder and rape of Vietnam falls on our government.

It is far more patriotic to protest our government's folly than to march blindly into war. The best way to honor our veterans is not to make more of them.

Gerald Ben Shargel


Health plans

Don't talk to me about "family values" when the U.S. infant mortality is higher than it is in 22 other countries, all of which have some form of national health insurance.

And don't talk to me about "American democracy" either, when public opinion polls for the last few years have consistently shown that two-thirds to three-quarters of U.S. citizens favor a Canadian-style, single-payer, national health insurance plan which will fully cover all Americans at a significantly lower price than is currently bankrupting "middle America," while the Clinton administration acts as though it has never heard of the Canadian system, and the media all but unanimously join in this conspiracy of silence.

Just as local politicians sell out to the auto insurance industry, our national representatives would rather serve the medical insurance industry than save Americans' lives.

In both cases, it will take a grass roots peoples' movement to overcome the insurance industry and its publicly paid flunkies.

A. Robert Kaufman


America is still 'a nation at risk'

Various editorials and articles have appeared in The Evening Sun in relationship to the improvement of education.

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