GOP House leaders showed insensitivity to anti-Catholic...


March 15, 2000

GOP House leaders showed insensitivity to anti-Catholic bias

In The Sun's article on the rejection of a Catholic priest, the Rev. Timothy O'Brien, to be the chaplain of the House of Representatives, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and the House Majority Leader Richard K. Armey, who were criticized for the decision, angrily protested "any suggestion of bias" on their part ("Speaker rejects panel's choice for chaplain, stirring tempest," March 8).

They blamed the Democrats for making this a political issue.

The article quotes political science professor Mark Rozell, who claims that Mr. Hastert and Mr. Armey "were clueless about what the reaction would be."

Is being clueless in this situation different from being biased?

Catholics are the largest religious denomination in the country. Yet the House chaplain has never been a Catholic.

Father O'Brien was the first choice of a bipartisan committee appointed by Mr. Hastert. Yet Mr. Hastert and Mr. Armey chose the committee's third choice, a Protestant who happened to have the support of conservative Republicans.

In my opinion, an unbiased perspective would have recognized that appointing a Catholic as chaplain was long overdue. Mr. Hastert and Mr. Armey should have understood that the only reason a Catholic has never been chaplain is bigotry.

Anti-Catholicism has a long history in this nation. These leaders had an opportunity to address a historic wrong and make a positive statement.

When you are that "clueless," you are biased.

Individuals like Mr. Hastert and Mr. Armey, who are infuriated when their actions are exposed for what they are, need to look to themselves, not the Democrats.

Stan Markowitz, Baltimore

Gov. Bush should reach out to women and minorities

Texas Gov. George W. Bush is the undisputed front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination.

He has consistently won most of the Republican conservative vote. But now it's a good time for Mr. Bush to invoke the "I" word or "inclusiveness," and reach more out to women and minorities.

He has done fairly well with women in the past primaries but could do better.

Mr. Bush should not be afraid to go to town meetings in black neighborhoods. He should see what minorities want.

After all, we helped to build this country and have just as much a stake in its future and its success as anyone else.

Minorities, for their part, should not rule out a Republican candidate. We have to be willing to listen.

We have been taken for granted by the Democrats for so long we have failed to notice they have often abused our trust, or subjected us to "benign neglect."

The Republicans are different. They have not turned a blind ear. They just don't think minorities want to listen.

Mr. Bush should add the "I" word to his speeches and vocabulary. After all, this is a country for all people. It was not built solely by conservatives, nor are its benefits solely for them.

Yolanda R. White, Randallstown

Cuban people are eager to join the world economy

Bravo for DeWayne Wickham's column "An obsolete exercise" (Opinion Commentary, March 5).

I was part of a group of senior citizens who visited Cuba in January under the auspices of Essex Community College.

Havana is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. It is a treasure of Spanish colonial architecture.

We traveled from one end of the island to the other, and we were greeted everywhere with friendly interest.

Fidel Castro liberated Cuba from a corrupt dictatorship under which most people were illiterate, poverty-stricken and had no access to medical care.

While people are still poor and food is rationed, schooling and medical care are available to all.

The Cubans we met were eager to join the world economy. They are hardworking, ambitious people, and it is my belief that once the U.S. embargo is lifted, rapid change toward a more open political system will follow.

Irma Weinstein, Baltimore

Circus cruelty should be banned

Now that The Sun has glorified the circus coming to town, how about some equal time for animal rights and the fact that the circus is exploitation at its most visible ("Big man under the big top," March 2)?

Busloads of children attend the spectacle of captive animals forced to act in ways that are unnatural and foolish. What are we teaching children?

The circus is animal cruelty on display. It is a disgrace.

Baltimore should consider banning live animals used in entertainment. We would not be the first city to do so.

Susan B. Nestler, Towson

Harford County must raise taxes to keep good teachers

The Sun's editorial "Harford County faces financial headaches" (Feb. 26) states the county's situation exactly: "citizens all have to recognize that services aren't cheap to deliver. If Harford countians want better policing and teaching, taxes may have to be raised."

I am the chairman of the technology department at Aberdeen High School. This school year we lost half the members of my department because of the low salaries paid by Harford County.

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