Hollow opportunism reigns as leadership is missing in...

Letters to the Editor

October 11, 1998

Hollow opportunism reigns as leadership is missing in action

I was dismayed to learn about the small band of folks who gathered at City Hall to call for the ouster of Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier and the resignation of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke should he fail to act according to its wishes.

Such a call demonstrates, in my view, a recklessness that is inconsistent with sound leadership. It is incumbent upon the electorate to demand of those we have given a mandate to represent us that they speak with genuine passion and conviction on the issues affecting us. I would offer that there is no place in this community for the hollow political opportunism the demonstration suggested.

Mr. Frazier is widely respected as a decent, honest man doing a commendable job under difficult circumstances. He has stood up and publicly addressed the decades-old issue of racism in our police force.

The record will show that more black officers have been promoted during Mr. Frazier's tenure than at any other time in the history of the force. Aren't we shooting ourselves in the foot by trying to railroad this man out of town?

There is no shortage of serious issues on which our community is in desperate need of civic engagement and real leadership.

In order for Baltimore to be a better place for all of us to live, we will have to let go of headline-grabbing, finger-pointing politics and be ready to sit down together to craft intelligent, courageous solutions to the many challenges we face: low birth-weight babies, children who cannot read, unacceptable levels of homicide, unprecedented numbers of heroin addicts, AIDS, regional interdependence and economic development and voter apathy.

Divisiveness and polarization are not the tickets to a better future for Baltimore.

Robin Williams Wood

Baltimore

Thomas C. Frazier is our soccer coach in the 12 and under girls' recreation council league. He practices with us on Monday nights and coaches our Saturday games. He is a good coach, and we like him. We on the team know that he is trying to make our city safer, and that he is very busy. I am writing to show my support of him.

Emily Brooks

Baltimore

Sensitive, graphic account of quadruplets with autism

Kudos to Diana K. Sugg for her graphic and illuminating account on autism and its behavioral and emotional impact on the Dize quadruplets ("Seeking answers and miracles in autism times four," Sept. 27). In addition to a sensitive description of what this poses for the children and their parents, Ms. Sugg delves into the historic background of this baffling disorder and the progress being made.

She notes that Bruno Bettleheim, a psychiatrist, theorized that autism resulted from frigidity on the part of birth mothers. She writes: "The idea stuck and for the next 40 years there was little further investigation."

Not quite -- at least locally. Dr. Leo Kanner, of Johns Hopkins, was recognized in the story as a pioneer in identifying autism in the 1940s. Not mentioned was the fact that Dr. Kanner advanced the theory, now generally accepted, that a genetic defect was the villain. With his support, the Linwood Children's Center was established in the mid 1950s. It was one of the first of its kind and pioneered in treating autism as a genetic defect.

Its first director, Jeanne Simons, had a background of working with emotionally disturbed youngsters.

As a field representative with the state's social services department, I had occasion to visit Linwood, which still occupies the same quarters. Behaviorial patterns followed along the same lines as those so aptly decribed by Ms. Sugg with respect to the Dize children. The patience and supervision by staff was clearly evident, a circumstance that I am confident still exists.

My comments aside, Ms. Sugg's article is one of the most comprehensive and enlightening in dealing with this enigmatic emotional problem.

Abner Kaplan

Baltimore

Baltimore and Washington will miss fired radio host

The article on the firing of C. Miles Smith was disturbing to me ("Radio talk-show host fired for on-air remarks," Sept. 30). Circumstances surrounding his departure seem rash, harsh and undue.

Mr. Smith brought sincerity and genuine concern for the African-American community with every broadcast. Though Smith

some of his comments bordered on the extreme, his honesty was appreciated and welcome to people who desperately needed it. If there was an issue to be brought to our attention, we could count on Mr. Smith to put it on the table. Radio One and the African-American communities of Baltimore and Washington will suffer dearly for the loss.

Unfortunately, it seems as though history has repeated itself once again in eradicating those who try to raise the consciousness of African Americans. Every time we have a voice that espouses black nationalism it is quieted. It is high time that we stop shying around topics, whether they concern those within or outside of our community.

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