Morality still matters, even during the heat of military...

Letters to the Editor

July 30, 1998

Morality still matters, even during the heat of military combat

In response to your movie review on "Saving Private Ryan," is no one else troubled by the director's handling of the ethical questions in combat ("Grace under fire," July 24)?

Having seen Oliver Stone's "Born on the Fourth of July" last week also, I was struck by a common theme: War leaves no room for moral choices and actions. Steven Spielberg takes this point of view in portraying the last clearly justifiable war, as some have called World War II.

In order to make that point, Mr. Spielberg oversimplifies choices. He also reinforces a cultural disdain for physically slight males who think, talk and write too much. The translator is a simpering, ineffectual coward until he can bring himself to shoot a prisoner.

Once we can shoot prisoners in the "fog of war," we can more easily rationalize destroying villages and villagers to keep the enemy from controlling them. Thankfully, two brave soldiers with moral qualms at My Lai acted quickly at great risk to themselves to stop that massacre. Lt. Col. Frank Herbert also wrote a book on ethical fighting in Vietnam. Good soldiers not only can, but must, make moral choices in the heat of battle.

Of course, most of us would prefer to end war. But should one occur despite our best efforts, I trust individuals can learn to tell the difference between an armed combatant and an unarmed prisoner or civilian. That is not too fine a sensibility. To insist they neither can nor should make that distinction is very dangerous and downright irresponsible. It works for its shock value in an antiwar polemic. But what if our future enemies watch this movie and take no prisoners?

D. J. Lilly

Baltimore

Remember Czar Nicholas II and later victims of Soviets

Russian President Boris Yeltsin and his wife's participation in the religious service for Czar Nicholas II and his family was really a historic step. Mr. Yeltsin's eulogy was particularly outstanding and statesmanlike.

The murders of Czar Nicholas, his family and others were horrible crimes, but basically a Russian matter. The tens of millions who were murdered using different methods in the Soviet Union, however, are not exclusively Russian matters. Nobody knows where their bones are. Those bones are everywhere in Russia and countries that were members of the Soviet Union.

What is known is that those Marxist-Leninist Bolsheviks mercilessly fought for their power. No Russian should be silent about those horrible crimes.

Alec Kecskes

Kensington

Legislators deserve kudos for pushing cleft coverage

The article "Maverick's mission dims GOP allegiance" (July 23) described U.S. Rep. Greg Ganske of Iowa showing a picture of an infant with a cleft lip and palate and explaining that too many health maintenance organizations (HMOs) dismiss treatment needed for clefting as "cosmetic" and unnecessary.

The same unfortunate situation was true in Maryland until this year when Maryland's State Advisory Council on Hereditary and Congenital Disorders proposed legislation that was sponsored by state Del. Dan K. Morhaim of Baltimore County and state Sen. Joan Carter Conway of Baltimore.

The legislation requires HMOs in Maryland to include benefits for expenses arising from orthodontics, oral surgery, audiological and speech/language treatment involved in the management of cleft lip and/or cleft palate. Gov. Parris N. Glendening signed this legislation on April 28, and it will go into effect Oct. 1.

I commend Representative Ganske for his stand to increase national awareness and ensure HMO coverage for individuals born with clefts. I am also thankful that the Maryland General Assembly responded to the need for this legislation when it passed the legislation.

Ginny Patzer Ellicott City

The writer serves on the State Advisory Council on Hereditary and Congenital Disorders.

The more, the merrier on city's Inner Harbor

The Sun was wrong about the Wyndham hotel, and it is wrong about the Bubba Gump barge restaurant. We all owe James Rouse, John Paterakis, David Cordish and Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke our thanks.

The National Aquarium is selfish and shortsighted. Neither my friends nor I intend to support it in the future.

The city needs more attractions. They all help each other.

Dennis Seufert

Baltimore

Bubba Gump must pass the Baltimore taste test

Based on the review of other Bubba Gump restaurants, opponents of the establishment can perhaps hope for the following scenario -- it opens, it's lousy, it closes.

Richard Crystal

Baltimore

Sauerbrey didn't apologize for criminal accusations

Ellen Sauerbrey's tantrums when she lost the 1994 gubernatorial race in a close but fair election included serious criminal charges against many duly sworn election officials, particularly in black majority Baltimore City and Prince George's County.

Ms. Sauerbrey has neither proved her accusations nor apologized to the citizens of Maryland.

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