George Will misses the point on nomineeGeorge Will's Oct...


October 26, 1997

George Will misses the point on nominee

George Will's Oct. 12 Opinion Commentary column, ''Stop this nominee,'' urging the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject the nomination of Bill Lann Lee to be assistant attorney general for civil rights, totally missed the point.

Mr. Will gives two reasons for rejecting Mr. Lee's nomination. First, he opines that because Lee has spent his life litigating on behalf of civil rights, he is too liberal to fill this position. His second reason for rejecting the nomination is payback for the Democrats' rejection of an unqualified nominee.

Under the Constitution, President Clinton can choose the candidate he feels is best able to fill this position. The Senate is only supposed to decide whether or not the nominee is qualified. And clearly, Mr. Lee, who has spent 23 years as a civil rights attorney opening doors and achieving justice for those who have been shut out or suffered discrimination in our society, is more than qualified for the job.

The members of the American Association of University Women believe that the Lee nomination represents neither the time nor the place for a debate on affirmative action.

It is up to the Senate, which appears to have two choices. Pursue the path of labeling and obfuscation, as advocated by Mr. Will, or simply consider whether Bill Lann Lee is qualified to direct the federal government's civil rights enforcement policy.

Sandra Bernard


The writer is president of the American Association of University Women.

Mistaken criticism of political cartoons

Robert L. Taylor's objection to The Sun's editorial cartoons in his letter of Oct. 14 is both misplaced and dangerous in its implications for free expression.

Mr. Taylor complains that a recent cartoon ridiculed Ellen R. Sauerbrey's capacity to govern by displaying her with piranha-like teeth chomping at Gov. Parris N. Glendening. In my view, editorial cartoonists often magnify a public figure's physical characteristics to poke fun of an immediately recognizable person. Remember Ross Perot's big ears? Indeed, the offending cartoon depicts the governor juggling with his eyes invisible, his glasses being opaque. Does this mean the cartoonist thinks the governor cannot see? If so, is that political?

In context, this reading of the cartoon makes no sense. The artist merely wants to capture some memorable element of how the governor looks, in cartoon form, so that readers immediately recognize him.

Mr. Taylor's principal complaint -- what ''disturbs'' him most -- is that these sorts of cartoons ''so vividly recall the vile caricatures of . . . Jews that appeared in the Nazi organs of the 1930s and 1940s.'' That the Nazis grossly depicted their opponents as subhumans is atrocious, but any similarity to The Sun's editorial cartoons is at most an unfortunate coincidence.

Political cartoons of all stripes, by definition, take political stances. To suppress cartoons in a legitimate forum of ideas would represent the very censorship Mr. Taylor rightly accuses the Nazis of using against their critics.

Mr. Taylor's stylistic equation of editorial cartoons and Nazi propaganda is absurd. I respectfully suggest that Mr. Taylor spend his time focusing on something more important.

Candler Gibson


Saving racing will save horse farms

I am responding as a private citizen to Barry Rascovar's Oct. 19 column, ''Keeping racing on track.'' Although he is generally accurate, I would note that horse racing supports not only ''horse farms in Central Maryland,'' but also about 80 standardbred farms, 60 on the Eastern Shore alone.

Keeping these farms as green spaces should be a major component of Gov. Parris N. Glendening's ''Smart Growth'' initiative; in addition, for many residents these farms also allow families to keep their children employed on the Shore. This is important for family and community stability.

As citizens and taxpayers, we need to keep in mind that the racing industry pays millions of dollars in payroll to tens of thousands of Marylanders, not just to a few stars. The state should treat racing on a par with other professional sports.

And incidentally, Maryland has four race tracks, not three, as well as the ones at Fair Hill and the Timonium fairgrounds.

Carol M. McGowan


I= The writer is a member of the Maryland Racing Commission.

Let down by Gilchrest on Pfiesteria issue

Wayne T. Gilchrest has been a tower of environmental leadership in the U.S. Congress. His knowledge of and support for programs to help save the Chesapeake Bay are exceptional.

It was, therefore, with deep regret that we read of his reaction to the suggestion that a requirement to reduce chicken manure used as fertilizer might be needed to address the Pfiesteria problem.

Mr. Gilchrest said, ''If you created those mandates today, you would shut down every farm, virtually, in the state of Maryland. . . . Agriculture as we know it in Maryland, or in the United States, would cease, just like that.'' (The Sun, Oct. 11)

Mr. Gilchrest has exaggerated the facts beyond what is conceivable even in a worst-case situation.

Such an extreme position reduces a legitimate concern for Maryland farmers to polemics and serves to confuse the public, distort reality, and polarize an already difficult situation.

William C. Baker


The writer is president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Pub Date: 10/26/97

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