Faith in institutions lets 'ordinary people' combat racial violence
Although Sherrilyn Ifill ponders this century's most vexing question - how "ordinary people" could sit by while unthinkable atrocities occur outside their doorsteps - in light of America's history of racial violence, her agenda for vetting white guilt and finger-pointing through a truth and reconciliation commission clouds her thinking ("Ordinary Complicity," June 17).
How different is the phenomenon she describes from the blood-letting that has occurred on Baltimore's inner-city streets for the last decade? Almost every night, thousands of "ordinary people" lay cowering in fear while young black men are murdered outside their doorsteps.
Should we also say they "condone," "foster" or "support" such bloodshed because they don't run into the streets with bats to chase the drug dealers away?
Ms. Ifill doesn't appreciate the power of the core issue at hand - violence. When citizens lose faith in the ability of social institutions to regulate moral behavior, the repeated intrusion of violence by seemingly powerful minorities leads people to think in terms of self-preservation (which is very different from "complicity").
Perhaps instead of therapy sessions for past wrongs, we need to help citizens recognize that the racial violence of today can only stop through concerted faith in our civic institutions (including courts, juries, citizen testimonies and police).
Otherwise, racial violence will continue - only this time, at the hands of a supposed brother.
Jeffrey P. Jones
Palestinian leadership causes current violence
The writer of the letter "Peace process only adds to the Palestinians' misery" (June 19) obviously doesn't keep up with the news.
Last summer, Israel offered the Gaza Strip and 95 percent of the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority. Rather than continue negotiations on this unprecedented offer, the Palestinian leadership decided to launch a violent uprising.
They are the ones responsible for the current misery.
Frank B. Cahn
County election board had to refer activist to prosecutor
I read with interest The Sun's article concerning the Calvert County activist accused of "barking up the wrong tree" when she allegedly registered her dog to vote and the remark that "Neighbors and the owner of a local general store wondered why the county would want to prosecute her" ("Activist accused of barking up wrong tree," June 7).
The local election board had no choice under the law but to refer the matter to the state's attorney's office. If charges are placed against her, it will be by the state.
But isn't it a conflict of interest for the president of the state Senate to represent someone accused of violating the law?
Is it just me, or do others feel it's wrong to allow the same state legislators who write the laws to defend people charged with violating them?
John Douglas Parran
The writer is a Calvert County commissioner.
Burning nation's flag cannot be tolerated
R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.'s column "Flag burning better than killing freedom" (Opinion
Commentary, June 12) did not address one important fact: 49 state legislatures, representing millions of Americans, have approved an amendment that would ban burning the flag.
The amendment says: "Congress and the states shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag ... "
It would not infringe upon free speech. Citizens may speak on any subject, but flag burning can't be tolerated.
Tax cut will take a big toll on needed public services
The average income of America's 400 richest taxpayers rose from $50 million in 1995 to $110 million a year by 1998. Their average tax bite, however, fell from 30 percent to 22 percent during those years.
The recent tax cut will save these 400 multi-millionaires an additional $1 million a year each.
That's $400 million that could have gone for better schools, European-type universal health insurance, research and development of safer, cleaner, renewable energy, or a federal employment and job training program to eliminate unemployment and poverty.
A. Robert Kaufman
Winning right to sue HMOs won't secure access to care
I recently received a letter from my HMO, FreeState Health, announcing its dissolution. The letter generously offered application to other company plans and a hearty guarantee that "all current members will qualify for health coverage under our indemnity open enrollment product, regardless of their health status."
That means the following: If you have a pre-existing condition, you're up the creek. Indemnity plans require excessive fees and offer prohibitively limited coverage for people with serious chronic illness.
And so I read with some cynicism that the U.S. Senate intends to again debate the merits of suing HMOs ("Patients' rights bill will test new Democratic majority," June 19). You want to know what will happen when we start suing our HMOs? They'll dissolve and reorganize.