Four R'sI read that the state has come up with a way to...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 19, 1994

Four R's

I read that the state has come up with a way to save Patterson High School by dividing it into four academies: humanities, fine arts, technical education and career preparation.

This sounds vaguely familiar to me. From 1927 to 1931 I was a student at Forest Park High School, the first coeducational high school in Baltimore City.

Students there were offered four courses: general, academic, technical and commercial.

It boggles my mind that it has taken all these years of trial and error for the school system to realize that what we were offered 63 years ago was a system that really works.

Ruth H. Taylor

Towson

Simpson No Hero

I am appalled by the (July 7) comment in your letters to the editor section by a Richard Spencer from Towson.

He said O. J. Simpson's domestic exploits may "be limited to simple wife beating." . . There is nothing simple about an act as hideous as spousal abuse.

I'd like to compare [O.J. Simpson as a "hero"] to myself. As a decorated combat Vietnam vet, among other things, I and others carried wounded and dying men to waiting helicopters while under fire.

At no time have I even considered that event to be of heroic proportions. It was but a matter of taking care of business.

But I do consider that event and other exploits of mine to be a cut above carrying a football, hitting a baseball or shooting a hoop.

I personally cringe every time I hear the word "hero" used in describing an athlete. It is, without a doubt, unwarranted.

It is because of those who apparently are in need of others to make them feel alive or to give their lives some sort of meaning that O. J. Simpson and many other athletes are put on pedestals. . .

As for O. J. Simpson, who whined like a spoiled little kid when he was told he had to return to a holding cell, he's a sorry excuse

for a man, and he's sure no "hero."

Chris Keleher

Annapolis

Latvia Struggles to Regain Identity

I would like to comment on Richard Reeves' column "When the Cheering Stopped in Riga" (Opinion * Commentary, July 12).

This article touches upon Latvia, a subject about which Mr. Reeves obviously has very little knowledge. One has to research history to understand what is happening in that country today.

We have to go back to the beginning of World War II, when the two notorious allies, Hitler and Stalin, made an agreement according to which the Soviet Union invaded and occupied the three independent Baltic states -- Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania -- at about the same time Hitler occupied Denmark, Holland and Belgium.

The occupation of the latter countries has long since ended. The occupation of Latvia ended in 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed.

Nearly a half century of occupation has produced a devastating effect on this nation. The killings, deportations and forced Russification brought the nation almost to the point of no return.

Today only 53 percent of all the population is Latvian. The Latvians were about to become a minority in their own country.

The Russian colonists, who enjoyed a privileged status in Latvia, not want to go home. Some openly advocate disobedience and resistance to the new Latvian government.

Several propaganda campaigns have been launched to discredit the Latvian people. Numerous international organizations, including two delegations of the United Nations, have visited Latvia to investigate Russian complaints of human rights violations. No violations were found. On the contrary, it was found that there is no discrimination of any minority groups in Latvia.

Human rights, however, should not be confused with citizenship. No one can obtain citizenship on demand. It is conferred upon by the respective state after certain qualifications are met.

This is so in Latvia, as it is in the U.S. and any other countries. The Russian colonists, many of whom are hostile to the Latvian state, demand instant citizenship.

The Latvians offer them gradual citizenship. And here is the grist for the Russian propaganda mills.

President Clinton was very well aware of the situation when he visited Latvia. He had to perform a difficult balancing act.

The president had to side with the Latvians in their just demand to get the Russian troops out of Latvia. At the same time, he had to placate Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who had declared himself as the "defender and protector" of Russians living in the "near abroad." The line in the president's speech about the troop withdrawal was enthusiastically cheered. However, the line about protection of minority rights, indeed, evoked no audible response.

Latvians are struggling in the shadow of a wobbling giant to reclaim control of the land on which they have lived for centuries.

The Soviet Union has collapsed, but the dream of an Imperial Russia, inherited from the time of the czars, is very much alive.

The Latvians are fighting for the survival of their nation -- nothing more, and nothing less.

Mr. Reeves has jumped to conclusions without investigating the facts of the case. That is bad journalism.

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