Racial history should not be oversimplifiedI strongly...


September 23, 1995

Racial history should not be oversimplified

I strongly disagree with the Sept. 5 letter of John G. Barry. . . . Those who think they can offer any insightful views regarding the plight of African-Americans or the evolution of America cannot do so without serious study and devotion to the subject. . . .

The segregation that Mr. Barry accepts as the confirmed national way of life should also be acknowledged as the extended and transient ideal of racist, barbaric, European exploitation and expansionism. . . . War or no war, Euro/Anglo-Americans have never wanted to positively attend to this situation with any healthy resolve, which is why it worsens.

For Mr. Barry to subtly compare W.E.B. DuBois to Benedict Arnold is ignorant and unfounded. . . . America betrayed W.E.B. DuBois and Malcolm X. Benedict Arnold and Aldrich Ames were welcomed into this racist machinery and, because of principles of power and greed, chose to betray America.

It is an historical pattern for Europeans to bankrupt nations to benefit their own selfish tribe. I believe American citizens should be more responsible and find this unacceptable for our nation.

Mr. Barry writes of DuBois accepting the Lenin Peace Prize. Well, what about Joseph Brodsky, a Russian immigrant of five years who then became poet laureate of our nation? Would this have been so acceptable if he were a dark-skinned, kinky-haired immigrant?

Eric James

Havre de Grace

Alaska oil is good for nation

It has been 15 years since the question first was posed by Congress of whether to open the narrow coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska to oil exploration and development. Government-sponsored studies have concluded that it should be opened.

It has been eight years since oil began flowing through the trans-Alaskan pipeline from the Prudhoe Bay oil fields -- just 65 miles west of ANWR. So far, 10 billion barrels of oil have been produced in the region in an environmentally sound way. No harm has come to wildlife.

Now, just as Congress is moving toward opening the area to oil leasing to provide new revenues for the government, two ''draft studies'' from the Clinton administration -- which opposes ANWR oil development -- have suddenly been leaked to selected sources. Together they reportedly contradict the conclusions of

prior government studies by asserting adverse environmental impacts and less abundant resources.

In the Opinion * Commentary article, ''The Treasure in the Arctic,'' Aug. 25, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt downgraded the energy and economic potential of ANWR, ignored the successful record of the North Slope and brushed aside any notion of careful development of a tiny fraction of the refuge.

His comparisons to the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park were wildly inaccurate. National parks are reserved for recreational visits. Wildlife refuges are defined by law as multiple use lands. Oil and natural gas production have occurred safely for decades on many of the nation's wildlife refuges.

The logical question then is: Why not develop the oil resources in ANWR -- with appropriate environmental sensitivity -- when we are doing so in other refuges?

William F. O'Keefe


The writer is executive vice president of the American Petroleum Institute.

How America got its anthem

Having done some recent research on Francis Scott Key (1779-1843), author of the Star-Spangled Banner, it was most gratifying to find an article in the Sept. 10 Perspective of The Sunday Sun.

Perhaps it was a typographical error, but Key's wife's correct name was Mary Tayloe Lloyd, whom everyone called Polly.

Also, please note that according to the definitive biography of Key written by the late Edward S. Delaplaine, Key wrote a rough outline of the poem we today call our national anthem on the back of an envelope he found in his coat pocket, while standing on the deck of the cartel ship on which he had pursued the British fleet under a white flag.

Key, John S. Skinner and Dr. William Beanes, whose release was the object of Key's journey, were under British marine guard on their own ship during the bombardment of Fort McHenry and not on a British ship as many believe.

On Sept. 14, 1814, after he retired to a Baltimore hotel (perhaps the Fountain Inn, a popular travelers' rest stop), Key wrote the final text of his best-known poem. The next day, Key's brother-in-law, Judge Joseph Nicholson, took the poem to the offices of the Baltimore American, where he found an apprentice printer named Samuel Sands.

Sands, only 14 years old, set the poem in type and it was from this that handbills were printed and posted throughout Baltimore.

Delaplaine says the first newspaper to publish "The Defence of Fort McHenry" -- notice the correct 1814 spelling of "defence" -- was the Baltimore Patriot on Sept. 20. The American printed it the next day.

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