Confirming Ashcroft would affirm distrust of Justice...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 25, 2001

Confirming Ashcroft would affirm distrust of Justice Department

The Maryland State Conference of the NAACP opposes the confirmation of John Ashcroft as U. S. Attorney General.

In our judgment, Mr. Ashcroft brings to this nomination a record of extremism, both in his views and in his actions, that can only exacerbate the tarnished perception of this nation's justice and law enforcement system that many in the African American community hold in the wake of the Supreme Court's intervention in the recent presidential election.

Mr. Ashcroft's denunciation of the nomination of Judge Ronnie White, the first black member of the Missouri Supreme Court, when Mr. White was nominated for a federal judgeship, parallels his equally distorted attack on Bill Lann Lee, when Mr. Lee was considered for assistant attorney general for civil rights.

Mr. Ashcroft's position on race issues has the dubious virtue of consistency; he also opposed legislation before the Senate to allow the gathering of racial statistics on traffic stops, at the height of a nationwide focus on police profiling.

The NAACP recognizes President George W. Bush's prerogative to name conservatives of stature to his Cabinet. Mr. Ashcroft's nomination not only falls outside this parameter, however; it undermines any credible attempt by the new administration to heal a divided nation.

We urge that senatorial courtesy must, in this instance, give way to the abiding distrust of the Department of Justice that would be engendered were Mr. Ashcroft to be confirmed.

Jenkins Odoms Jr.

Annapolis

The writer is conference president for the Maryland NAACP.

Banning bulletproof vests leaves civilians unprotected

I hope our legislators take a serious look at the bulletproof vest law Gov. Parris N. Glendening wants passed ("Governor seeks body armor ban," Jan. 10).

I am a utility worker who has done night work for more than 20 years. I work all over the state and, not being able to carry a gun like a police officer, I wear a vest in very bad areas for protection.

Am I just chopped liver? Don't I have the right to return safely to my family?

I think this bill has serious civil liberties implications.

Samuel T. Gibson III

Edgewood

Don't invest more money in aging Cheltenham prison

Vincent Schiraldi's recommendation that the Cheltenham Youth Facility be closed is on target ("Close Cheltenham," Opinion

Commentary, Jan. 16). It makes no sense to pour money into fire safety improvements for a dilapidated, unsafe facility, especially when a new facility will be opening in Baltimore next year.

Placing children in a debilitated, over-crowded, unhealthy and understaffed prison sends a message that they are worthless. It is a recipe for recidivism.

Rather than investing $1 million on fire-safety improvements for Cheltenham and continuing to pay its operating and maintenance costs, our tax dollars should be spent for effective, proven preventive and rehabilitative youth services.

Our children are, after all, our future.

Julia B. Rauch

Baltimore

The writer is director emeritus of the University of Maryland Center for Maternal and Child Health.

It's Arafat who scorns the Oslo peace process

A recent Sun headline exclaimed "Sharon scorns Oslo peace" (Jan. 11). Why has The Sun never written "Arafat scorns Oslo peace"?

While Israel has been preparing its people for peace, the Palestinian Authority continues to hand out textbooks calling for the destruction of Israel.

While Israel has closely guarded Moslem holy places, Palestinians have defaced and destroyed Jewish holy sites.

Joseph's Tomb has been ransacked and turned into a mosque. An ancient synagogue in Jericho was burned to the ground.

I don't think this is what the late Yitzhak Rabin had in mind when he took this chance for peace in Oslo. The Oslo accords were scorned a long time ago, by none other than Yasser Arafat himself.

Michael Langbaum

Baltimore

Why not use microchips to keep tabs on everyone?

It is a good thing that city Health Commissioner Dr. Peter L. Beilenson proposes legislation requiring some breeds of dogs to have implanted microchips listing relevant information about that dog ("Official calls for microchip tags in dogs," Jan. 17).

Then we can install them in our children, with their vital information. And in HIV-positive individuals, so their partners could see who is infected.

And we could link the microchips to a computer so that we could know the whereabouts of our children at all times.

And we could put microchips in people whose spouses suspect they are cheating, to monitor their whereabouts.

Yes, microchip installation is a good thing.

Ray Merryman

Rosedale

Owners of vicious dogs must face sterner sentences

The remedies so far proposed to curtail the attacks upon innocent children and adults by vicious dogs will, in all probability, have little or no effect. More stringent measures must be adopted.

Not only should pit bulls be banned, but legislation should ban possession, transportation and transfer of all vicious dogs -- just like other wild animals.

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