Either you like Will's verbalism, or you don'tFred...

Letters

March 03, 1997

Either you like Will's verbalism, or you don't

Fred Schock's Feb. 25 letter regarding the befuddlement of George Will's puzzling prose deserves an A-plus.

He beat me to the punch on this one, as I had just finished typing my own critique of Mr. Will's manufacture of mental hernias.

Mr. Schock and I refer to Mr. Will's Feb. 17 column, "A man of uncommon clay," regarding the filmed biography of Thomas Jefferson produced by Ken Burns.

Chris Kaltenbach of the Sun had a much better read on the subject (Feb. 18, "Thomas Jefferson, television star"). It was brief, to the point and required no decoding.

My hat is off to both Chris and Fred; each of them topped the genius. It is both a relief and a boost to my self-esteem to realize that I am not the only one who doesn't understand what Mr. Will is talking about.

Gene Deyette

Abingdon

I just don't understand why people continue to complain about George Will's syntax and vocabulary. If he isn't the most skilled practitioner of the English language, he's no worse than second.

Someone asked me what I thought of Paul Fussell's style. I said that anyone who can work ''verisimilitude,'' ''interstices'' and ''fictive'' into one sentence can't be all bad.

Let's grow up, and grow a little.

Bob Rothgaber

Baltimore

City school chief is well served

Please educate me as to why a school administrator requires a private bodyguard and a chauffeur.

How many other perks are there with the Baltimore City school system manipulating taxpayer dollars allocated to educate our children?

Mary Meagher

Baltimore

'Afro' actress' race didn't seem important

Stephen Hunter, in his Feb. 12 movie review, "Ice Cube's trampled 'Ground,' " faults the film ''Dangerous Ground'' for its lack of credibility. To Mr. Hunter, star Ice Cube's role and language are implausible because they are culturally incongruous.

Mr. Hunter, though, trips when in his article on unknown Oscar nominees (Feb. 12, "The great unknowns"), he calls Marianne Jeanne-Baptiste ("Secrets and Lies") the "Afro-British actress.''

I do not speak for Ms. Jeanne-Baptiste but point out, merely, that identifying an individual first by race, then by nationally, is a peculiarly American practice, unless the racial identification is key to understanding the story. In this case, it was not.

Jenny Thrasher

Columbia

Issue of conversion for Jews in Israel

The juxtaposition in The Sun Feb. 19 of an article about an Israeli rabbi accused of taking a bribe to effect a Jewish conversion with a photograph of the president of Agudath Israel of America and other Orthodox Jewish leaders meeting in New York with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was misleading, as was the photo's caption, which placed the meeting ''in the wake of the bribery report.''

That the Israeli rabbinate may harbor individual scoundrels bears not a whit on the question of whether or not classical Jewish law should determine issues of Jewish personal status in the Jewish state.

The former contention is disturbing and, if proven true, should be dealt with decisively. The latter question is one that is vital to the future of Israel's Jewish identity.

The meeting was planned for weeks before it took place and had nothing to do with the bribery report.

The scandal, however, only serves to underscore the need for clear and high standards for conversions in Israel, precisely what Agudath Israel and other Orthodox organizations endorse.

Avi Shafran

New York

The writer is a rabbi and director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America.

Glendening, Clinton agree on gun control

In his Feb. 16 column comparing Gov. Parris Glendening to President Bill Clinton, Barry Rascovar wondered if there are issues that these men ''support 100 percent, regardless of the political consequences?''

The answer is yes -- and a good example for both men is gun control. While previous candidates for president and governor avoided this issue like the plague for fear of ''political consequences,'' Bill Clinton proudly endorsed the Brady Law and the assault weapons ban in his 1992 campaign and Parris Glendening made comprehensive gun control a key part of his 1994 election platform.

Once elected, both men kept their pledges and won enactment of these measures despite strong pressure to back down from the gun lobby.

Vincent DeMarco

Baltimore

'Clever' acts threaten our natural resources

Peter Jay (Op-Ed column, Feb. 13) quotes Mike Hirshfield as saying, "Human beings are clever enough to over-fish any resources," to which I would add, "Human beings are clever enough to over-fish any resources." For example, with only 2 percent of the lower 48's ancient forests remaining, I'd say we've done a pretty good job exploiting that resource.

Sadly, some folks are still trying to get the rest. And if that goes, many other species will collapse as well. We may be clever as a species, but we're certainly failing to use our intelligence properly.

Ajax Eastman

Baltimore

The writer is co-chair of the Maryland Wildlands Committee.

Trying to stop domestic violence

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