The NEHTheo Lippman Jr.'s July 1 references to the...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 21, 1993

The NEH

Theo Lippman Jr.'s July 1 references to the National Endowment for the Humanities convinced me that your readers might benefit from a greater familiarity with the NEH and its work.

While the nation clearly has many pressing and urgent needs, Congress since 1965 has clearly stated in its authorizing legislation that an informed and engaged citizenry is central to the nation's well-being.

The NEH operates on the principle that knowledge of the humanities -- the ideas, works and events that make up the record of human thought and experience -- is both personally rewarding to Americans as individuals and critical to our common civic life as a nation.

As the preamble to our authorizing legislation states: "Democracy demands wisdom and vision in its citizens." The act also encourages the endowment to promote "understanding" of

the nation's rich cultural heritage, to foster a "mutual respect for the diverse beliefs and values of all persons and groups" and to "relate the humanities to the current conditions of national life."

The NEH supports a broad range of projects each year -- from Ken Burns' award-winning "Civil War" series to fellowships for Ph.D. candidates at historically black colleges and universities.

The "reading and discussion program," alluded to in Mr. Lippman's column, is one of the public activities supported by the NEH.

These series at public libraries, senior centers and other sites around the country entail on average the reading of five books and five two-hour discussions with a scholar. The subjects are the subjects that Americans need to know to make intelligent and informed decisions about our future: history, literature, political philosophy, medical ethics, community and pluralism.

The recent grant to the Howard County Library is for a scholar-led examination of the history of the conflict underlying the current fractures in the Middle East and the former Soviet Union. It is hardly "a slide show about pyramids along the Nile," as Mr. Lippman described it. Thirty sites in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia will be involved in the program.

We invite your readers to take part in these series -- one need only go down to the library and sign up -- and to help us rebuild our libraries as places where intellectual vitality and community involvement meet.

Donald Gibson

Washington

The writer is acting chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Catholic Bashing

Your reader representative certainly patted The Sun on the back for excellent work in his July 4 column, but then fell asleep on the job (or did he?) on the syndicated cartoon directly below.

The lengthy July 4 article by Ernest Imhoff concerning The Sun's concern for the sensitivity of the Jewish community and the concern about any appearance of being anti-Semitic was very incisive, but evidently gross misrepresentations and anti-Catholic (Christian) journalism is acceptable at The Sun.

Directly below Imhoff's article was a cartoon by Bill Schorr, which was blatantly anti-Catholic (Christian) and reflected the cartoonist's bias. It was a gross misrepresentation designed to degrade a group. It was extremely offensive.

If I were to submit a July 4 cartoon showing the Rosenbergs, Jonathan Pollard and other Jewish spies saluting Communist and Israeli flags with the caption "The price of American liberty is eternal vigilance," would The Sun publish it?

I think not. The generalization couldn't be supported, and neither can the generalization in anti-Catholic (Christian) cartoons.

Anti-Catholic (Christian) bashing, sometimes by other Catholics, appears to be becoming more acceptable, but it doesn't belong in The Sun or any other newspaper.

The Sun needs to be more vigilant and sensitive to all groups. An apology is due to the Catholic (Christian) community and especially to the clergy. A demonstrable way of apologizing would be to discontinue carrying cartoons by Mr. Schorr.

Joseph P. Muskey

Potomac

Race-Based Law

Thank goodness the NAACP's racially discriminating state redistricting law did not materialize. What this law was designed for was to make a predominantly black area into its own district resulting in more blacks being elected to office as hoped by the NAACP.

This type of legislation is exactly what this country does not need. We don't need laws that say because you are this color you are going to get treated this way.

Legislators must stop looking at people's race and making legislation based on a certain population's predominant skin tone. To do so is nothing but pure, unadulterated discrimination.

This is why I often refuse to answer any application, survey or registration form that asks me to identify my race. I just leave that part blank because I know that information is going to be used to discriminate against someone.

The NAACP assumes that just because a district is predominantly Latino, its people are going to vote for someone just because he or she is Latino.

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