Shootings reveal need for crackdown on hate groupsBuford...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

August 19, 1999

Shootings reveal need for crackdown on hate groups

Buford Furrow opens fire on children at a Los Angeles Jewish community center. Benjamin Smith goes on a shooting rampage in Chicago targeting blacks, Asians and Jews. Three Sacramento synagogues are firebombed.

Teen-agers enter Columbine High School prepared to murder classmates and teachers. Timothy McVeigh blows up the federal building in Oklahoma City.

The common denominator driving those responsible for these heinous acts is not only a deep-seated hatred for minorities and those they perceive as "other," but the violent acting out of ideologies espoused by the white supremacist organizations with which they affiliate.

The Aryan Nation, The Order, Christian Identity, The Freemen and dozens of similar groups across the country preach racial holy war as the answer to what ails our country. Too many members of their "congregations" are ready to heed the call.

In the wake of recent tragedies, national discussions on gun control and television violence are warranted. But perhaps even more critical is the realization that, while America has made great strides against anti-Semitism and racism, there is a cancerous spread of fringe movements that not only justify, but glorify, violence against Jews and other minorities.

We can no longer dismiss these groups as a renegade band of freaks, kooks or wackos. We must take them seriously and insist that our government open full hearings and investigations into their activities and consider appropriate strategies for dealing them.

The lives of our children depend on it. Who can afford to gamble when the stakes are that high?

Los Rosenfield

Baltimore

The writer is executive director of the Baltimore Chapter of the American Jewish Committee.

Rhetoric of hatred must not be tolerated

No parents or grandparents in America should have to fear for the lives of their children and grandchildren. No children should have to be afraid in their neighborhoods, churches and synagogues, their places of education and entertainment.

No citizen in America should find it acceptable that the rhetoric of hatred and violence be dispensed with such reckless abandon -- so that the unhinged and disgruntled feel free to torment and murder.

It is not enough to demand restrictions on the proliferation of guns. This must be coupled with a vigilance that punishes purveyors of racial, religious, ethnic and gender-based violence.

We are one with the victims of the Los Angeles shooting. But we Jews will not become a community of victims.

We must be, instead, the proud possessors and defenders of the faith and culture we bear, a culture that has a legitimate place in this nation whose very soul depends upon pluralism.

It was George Washington who wrote: "May the children of the stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants, while everyone shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid."

Rabbi Gustav Buchdahl

Reisterstown

The writer is the rabbi at Temple Emanuel.

Violent talk-radio chatter incites angry men with guns

The Sun's editorial "More innocents, more gunfire, more pain" (Aug 12) was food for thought. Especially timely was its description of talk radio's reflexive support of gun rights.

Despite their tortured interpretation of the Second Amendment, those gun worshipers can never justify the unchained violence that has shocked us this summer.

Although their settings were very different, those shooting share a common strain: All involved angry white men and boys with guns -- a deadly combination.

Their anger feeds on right-wing rhetoric, such as that which daily saturates the airwaves of urban and rural America.

We know about the dangers inherent in actions based on distortions of the Second Amendment. First Amendment distortions demand equal vigilance.

George W. Collins

Baltimore

Passing along Furrow's message of hatred

On its Aug. 12 front page, The Sun published, below the photo of Buford Furrow Jr., a caption which summarized his diabolical intention.

I do not believe that it was the intention of The Sun to support his agenda. But the caption gave Furrow's message a powerful platform to share his hate with the most casual browser of the front page.

The message this sends is that if you want to spread your message to the masses, commit a heinous crime and the media will pass it along.

Gregg P. Landry

Baltimore

War on secular science is another form of intolerance

The Sun's Aug. 12 edition reports a state school board stripping Charles Darwin from science education ("Kansas erases evolution from science curriculum"), a local school district letting "Volunteers post Ten Commandments in rural Ky. school" and a hateful killer surrendering to authorities after issuing "a wake-up call to America to kill Jews" ("Suspect in Calif. shootings gives up").

Proponents of the first two initiatives believe they would forestall the likes of the third.

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