Society's ills don't limit themselves to city lifeI do...


August 03, 1996

Society's ills don't limit themselves to city life

I do find quite moving Lalita Noronha-Blob's expression (July 23) of her sense of loss and insecurity resulting from the theft of her family's vehicle.

But I cannot agree with the sentiment implied when she writes: ''Maybe it's time to leave Baltimore, move to the suburbs. Find a place where we are entitled to own a new car, walk through the neighborhood . . .'' etc.

Of course, she is entitled to live where she pleases. But she is mistaken if she thinks that the suburbs will provide a haven of escape.

I, too, am a city dweller who suffered the theft of a new vehicle two years ago. My refusal to leave is due not only to my fondness for this quaint old town of Poe and Mencken, but also my realization that there is no American community to which I can escape the ills of American society. I know suburbanites who have suffered cars stolen or homes pillaged. I know that drugs, violence and, increasingly, poverty and homelessness also afflict the cozy havens of suburbia. And these ills do not usually migrate to suburbia from the city, but are as native to the suburb as to the city.

Wherever we flee, our troubles will follow -- or simply await our arrival.

We are faced with a profound crisis of our entire American civilization. If we are to meet our democratic duty to master the crisis and transform our society, we must abandon the pleasant illusion of a suburban oasis free of society's ills. No private escape is possible. Our only hope lies in a rebirth of America's social conscience.

Robert Birt


Lalita Noronha-Blob told us in her July 23 commentary ''Why I must leave Baltimore." Why is it that nearly half the population that once inhabited Baltimore has, in the past 20 or so years, left?

Increasing crime, pollution and property taxes. But most importantly, they left because they no longer cared enough to stay.

When Baltimore City residents leave, they take two things. They take their tax potential with them (property and income), and they take the difference they make as powerful individuals.

The tax gap will in essence have to be filled by the remaining populace. City Hall's response is ''we need you 600,000 die-hards to compensate us for the revenue your 400,000 brothers and sisters took with them.'' I have no idea how the ''difference gap'' can be filled except by a return of the city populace.

And what of the crime gap? A city that in earlier years breathed heartily with the lungs of 1 million cannot breathe as deeply with the lungs of a mere 600,000 -- meaning that those who stay will most likely endure the pilgrims' share of being victims of crime, as well as their own unfortunate share.

Baltimore City is limping, but not defeated. It suffers division, racially and politically, and as long as it remains so divided it will inevitably collapse on itself, either in bankruptcy or in utter hopelessness.

It can be argued that the populace is already lost, replete with chronic absentees from public schools, subsequent illiteracy and teen pregnancy, public indifference (the most dangerous of conditions) and political recklessness.

What is it that city residents really want? To leave? No, I think Ms. Noronha-Blob wants what the remaining residents want. Revival and unity. And that is why she struggles.

In piloting Baltimore City toward revival and unity, perhaps the first step is to care, simply and eternally.

People are leaving, or want to leave, because it is the nature of human beings to disregard what does not bring them joy, specifically those things that are difficult to love.

But Baltimore is a worthy cause. And because there are moments, indeed, when Baltimore is difficult to love, it is for that reason we should love it still more, give still more, and not abandon it to an orphaned city fate.

Jamie David Kane


Olympic switch in '36 due to anti-Semitism

Michael Ollove's July 28 article, ''Olympian evil,'' describing the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's exhibit about the 1936 Berlin Olympics, includes a comment that indicates either a lack of information or perhaps a personal agenda.

He writes: ''[Marty] Glickman and Sam Stoller, the only Jews on the American track and field team, did not compete in Berlin. On the day of the 400-meter relay, their coaches replaced them with Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalfe, winners of the gold and silver medals in the 100-yard dash. Glickman has always maintained that he and Stoller were replaced because of anti-Semitism."

Ollove leaves the impression that the replacement was an athletic decision, and Glickman's complaint merely the bitterness of a disappointed old man.

I remember the first time I heard about this incident, a television documentary about Jesse Owens and the Berlin Olympics. In that film, a fellow Olympic athlete was interviewed and noted that Stoller and Glickman were pulled not because the relay team might have lost (as Ollove implies), but because they very likely would have won.

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