Jews and SlavesThe article "Jews and the Slave Trade...


March 06, 1994

Jews and Slaves

The article "Jews and the Slave Trade" (Perspective, Feb. 13) by David Brion Davis could easily have been written by an admirer of Louis Farrakhan.

Whether Mr. Davis has written an interesting and objective book on the slave trade is not the question. The excerpt from his writings as presented by The Sun would not disturb Mr. Farrakhan in the least. In fact, Mr. Farrakhan would probably give it his approval.

There are several important considerations concerning the article.

First, no references are made as to the source of Mr. Davis' material.

Secondly, Davis uses the term "Marrano" inaccurately. The Marrano was a Jew in Spain at the time of the Inquisition who was forced to call himself a Christian although he practiced his own religion clandestinely.

Each of Davis' references to Marranos was outside Spain where (especially in Holland and Dutch Guinea) Jews were free to practice their religion, and many Jews had attained positions of rank.

Thirdly and even more importantly, although Mr. Davis starts out by stating that Jews were a minor part of the slave trade, the whole Sun selection from Davis' larger article (originally in the publication Culturefront) is devoted to what is purported by the author and The Sun to be the Jewish involvement in the slave trade.

The fashion in which the article is presented is as bigoted in approach as to point out that the Jews in the U.S. represent less than 1 percent of the prison population and then to go on to write exclusively about that minuscule percentage of the prison population, making it appear that the prisons were virtually teeming with Jews.

It was a poor decision by The Sun to include this selection in the Sunday paper, accomplishing nothing but the reinforcement of bigotry.

Arne Steinberg

Silver Spring

Surprise Surprises

Mike Preston's article (Perspective, Feb. 27) prompts me to write this letter. What surprised me was Mr. Preston's surprise at being singled out as an attraction at Lillehammer, Norway.

At the height of 6-foot-2 and weighing 279 pounds, he would attract the same attention in Kenya, Africa. Why he should have been surprised at being a novelty in a small Norwegian village is beyond me. I can assure him that in Oslo he wouldn't have received a second glance.

For a reporter to say "and I don't intend to return" indicates an immature attitude. Maybe he is in the wrong business.

What kind of reaction would a Sumo wrestler attract wandering around Baltimore? Would the attention be out of disrespect or curiosity? I would think the latter.

Incidentally, I am an American who is black and have had the privilege of visiting Norway and other Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Denmark) and received no such attention.

I also lived for a year in Japan and found a welcoming and respectful attitude in every location. But then again, I am not 6-foot-2 and 279 pounds.

Maurice S. Dorsey


Hayden's Priority

After reading Barry Rascovar's column, "Careers Threatened by Crime and Ice" (Feb. 20), I noticed there was no discussion of the crime problem in Baltimore County.

Since Roger Hayden took office over three years ago, robberies have increased each year, with a record number occurring in 1993. Two police officers have been shot in the line of duty during the past four months. A record number of murders occurred during 1992.

Mr. Hayden has stated public safety is his No. 1 priority. Meanwhile, 100 police officers were cut from the budget.

There are fewer officers in Baltimore County than three years ago. Parkville precinct alone had 17 officers removed. No police vehicles have been purchased since Mr. Hayden took office.

Voters in Baltimore County will decide in November if Roger Hayden has demonstrated that public safety is No. 1 priority.

L. Timothy Caslin


The writer is president of Baltimore County Lodge No. 4 of the Fraternal Order of Police.

Peculiar Policy

Occasionally photographs appear in newspapers of large works of sculpture that I have created. These bronze monuments usually take several years to complete.

Yet when the picture appears, it credits the photographer but omits my name.

On Feb. 16 a photograph appeared in your paper of my statue of Capt. John O'Donnell. The credit underneath bears the name of Kenneth K. Lam.

I know Mr. Lam is not responsible for this peculiar policy. Yet I wonder how he would react if he were to discover in the paper a photograph I had made of one of his pictures and credit for the photograph was given to me while his name was omitted.

Tylden W. Streett



I am continually amazed how Oliver North is somehow able to fog people's minds with his pseudo-heroism.

Breaking the law out of patriotism is still breaking the law. Convictions on charges which had been proven beyond all doubt and to which Mr. North had openly admitted guilt were set aside on the legal technicality that immunized testimony had been used by the prosecution to make its case.

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