Don't let ethnic hatred divide us Since Sept. 11, the...

SATURDAY MAILBOX

September 29, 2001

Don't let ethnic hatred divide us

Since Sept. 11, the world has become a sea of red, white and blue as a people grown complacent come to grips with their gut-level love of country.

Yet how many of those same born-again flag-wavers are speaking and acting in utterly un-American ways toward their Arab and Muslim neighbors, colleagues and local shopkeepers?

If we learn anything about love of country in the wake of these terrible evens, we must learn to live the ideals upon which the country was founded and grew strong: tolerance of others, respect for diversity and the utter commitment to freedom for all.

Yes, there have been too many years in which too many of us weren't as faithful to these ideals as we should have been.

But now, perhaps as never before, we need to stop and think about what the words "one nation ... indivisible, with liberty and justice for all" really mean as we wave those flags. If we don't, we may as well wave old rags.

Sue Feder, Towson

I mourn for the victims, their friends and families and the way of life we knew before Sept. 11. My heart also aches for fellow Americans being attacked because they look like the enemies we seek.

The people now attacking Arab- or Islamic-Americans are the same ones who dress in white sheets, deface homes of African-Americans, paint swastikas on synagogues and fly Confederate flags. They spread as much hatred as the terrorists we seek.

We need to embrace our neighbors, mourn and grieve together and put a stop to the hatred and fanaticism that threaten to further divide us.

Wini Frye, Baltimore

Beating terror takes force, compassion

Kudos to President Bush for a suburb performance on Sept. 20, one reminiscent of Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill leading their nations into war.

We found comfort that evening in his resolve that justice will prevail and we will win the war against terrorism.

But in the reality of morning there is grave concern. To rid our land of terrorism, we must wage and win not one but two wars.

The first war is against a small group of men with minds enslaved by hate and a passion for killing.

They conceive and plan heinous acts of terrorism; they recruit and poison the minds of young men. They must be hunted down and removed from civilized society, by whatever means necessary.

Forget nonviolent approaches: These men are like rabid dogs in our midst and must be treated accordingly.

But isolating these men from society will not win the war against terrorism. We must also win a second war. We must also win the hearts of the oppressed and struggling peoples in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Iraq and elsewhere. And we cannot win this war with military might alone.

We must win it by addressing human needs - for food, economic opportunity and freedom from corrupt and repressive regimes. To win this war we must tap deeply our collective reservoir of human compassion and tolerance.

If we do not, if we just fight to neutralize the extremists, we will be faced with a never-ending supply of replacements, because extreme poverty and oppression are the breeding grounds for revolution - and revolutions are now fought by terrorists.

I pray that we, as a great nation, can display the great compassion and tolerance needed to win this war on global terrorism.

Doron Antrim, Reisterstown

Sun doesn't shine in its coverage of local controversies

The crusading daily newspaper holds a place of honor in American mythology: a check on the powerful, a goad to the self-important, a voice for the downtrodden.

Then there is The Sun - disinterested observer of the local scene, as uncritical as a company newsletter.

Not only does The Sun lack passion in pursuing important public issues, it is barely inquisitive about them.

Exhibit No. 1 is the news that our governor is having an affair with a subordinate who, in one of life's happy coincidences, has experienced a meteoric rise through the ranks of his administration.

The Sun reported comments by our state comptroller about the influence of this staffer, but mentioned neither the personal dimension nor the obvious potential for conflict of interest ("Schaefer appeals to `big boss,' " Aug. 30). Rather it was left to an out-of-state newspaper, the Washington Post, to expose the controversy.

Still shy of offending anyone, The Sun was reduced to reporting reactions to the Post story ("GOP leader criticizes Glendening's reported relationship with aide," Sept. 1), followed a day later by a plaintive column by Michael Olesker in which he pined for a full explanation of the matter ("Watching with interest as public, private matters collide in politician's life," Sept. 2). Sounds like a job for the local newspaper.

A second example is the controversy over Baltimore's State's Attorney's Office. A series of botched prosecutions has inevitably generated criticism of current leadership.

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