Sacred ShrineBetween 1868 and 1917, more than 700,000...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 12, 1994

Sacred Shrine

Between 1868 and 1917, more than 700,000 immigrants took their first excited, wide-eyed steps onto their new homeland at Locust Point's piers 8 and 9.

My mother was one of them. Recently, my brother and I had the unique and awesome experience of walking on the very ground where that special young woman had bravely walked into her destiny 73 years earlier.

For millions of Americans today, that spot is an inestimably sacred shrine -- from which their family history emanates.

Yet, how very few of us are actually aware of the tremendous significance of that site? And how still fewer are aware that what precious little remains of that incredibly historic and deeply-emotional place is about to be completely swallowed up and destroyed forever by the callous, expansive designs of the surrounding industrial complexes?

I believe that both the state and federal governments have a high, moral obligation to protect and preserve a shrine of such profound scope and magnitude.

Thomas E. Maxon

Baltimore

Obscene Maiming

As a member of Amnesty International, I join all decent people in condemning Singapore's use of torture -- not only on Michael Fay but on countless others.

While crime must be punished, deliberate, obscene maiming of prisoners is wrong.

Singapore maintains law and order though authoritarian tactics that subordinate individuals' rights to the state's. Will we ever know how many innocent citizens have been falsely accused or coerced into signing confessions under duress, which in America would violate our Fifth Amendment?

Despite Singapore's shameful conduct, the greater shame is on those Americans who supported caning. Though frustrated with crime, they should have behaved better than a medieval lynch mob.

Regrettably, their influence prevailed. What happened to reason, restraint and compassion?

To a large extent, arch-conservatives like Rush Limbaugh are to blame. They exaggerate the very real problem of crime to justify their agenda.

I see through their paranoid obsession. Their desire is not so much to protect citizenry as to promote an authoritarian mentality.

Margaret L. Kempf

Greenbelt

Mourning Nixon

I do not think it was appropriate to give the government the day off to mourn the death of former President Nixon.

Two things about this bother me.

I am not alone in feeling that government employees get too many days off in the first place. On any holiday I can think of, I hear, "The government has the day off today. . ."

It does not seem to take much snow to keep them home. If my office had as many days off, and as many reasons for getting days off, I do not think my company would remain in business for long. Remember that we the taxpayers paid for this day of bereavement.

My second irritation is that I honestly do not feel that the average government worker spent the day in mourning of our fallen leader. Instead, I am sure they spent the day the same as any of us does when not at work, enjoying themselves.

I was as affected as anyone would be by the loss of one of our nation's leaders. However, taking the day off does not constitute "grieving" by any means. I fear that instead of remembering President Nixon, they may be looking forward to their next day of "mourning."

Dennis Pederson

Columbia

Evaluations

In response to the editorial "Teachers and Accountability" (May 2), the public must have a clear understanding of the teacher evaluation process. In a given year, a veteran teacher may be observed for one 45-minute class period.

A 45-minute snippet does not create an accurate picture of what goes on in a teacher's classroom for the 180 days of the school year.

The problem lies in the assumption that "the evaluation system provides a reasonably accurate assessment of a teacher's work."

Would an editor want to be evaluated on one editorial chosen randomly to evaluate a year's worth of work? Would it be fair to rate mechanics on how well a car ran after they had worked on it for only 45 minutes, without considering the work they had done before or the work they would do later?

The evaluation process involves too many variables to make this cut-and-dried issue.

Beverly Thomas

Manchester

Neighbors' Rights

On May 7 you published a letter from Margaret Ann Reigle, chairman of the Fairness to Land Owners Committee, a national private property rights group.

In her letter she attacked the last 20 years of the environmental movement, saying it has pushed its agenda and its version of environmentalism on to every inch of private land and into every facet of business and community living.

It would certainly be a less complicated world if activities on private property had little or no effect on its neighbors. Unfortunately, the rights of others are often infringed upon by activities on private property.

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