Sports teams enhance sense of community, help fill city...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 21, 2002

Sports teams enhance sense of community, help fill city coffers

Thank you for the timely, insightful and totally correct editorial concerning the benefits of building a new basketball arena to bring the NBA back to Baltimore ("Pro basketball in Baltimore," Jan. 12).

People are always complaining about wasteful uses of tax dollars; the problem is that so many of those same people complain about good uses of tax dollars as well. And even though our new baseball park and football stadium have generated astonishing financial returns and promoted a refreshing community spirit, we can nonetheless expect the whining over the idea of a basketball arena to begin immediately. Major league sports are a solid hallmark of a major league town.

We should avoid the usual invalid arguments against building a new arena. Schools, along with police and fire services and other social necessities, are clearly helped - not diminished - by the gain in revenue and civic pride that comes from bringing people downtown.

Baltimoreans generally seem commanded by some sort of cosmic power to be against any form of progress - witness the battles over the stadiums and Harborplace. This issue will likely be no different.

But it should not stop us from doing what is right. And building a new arena to bring back pro basketball is very much what is right.

Howard B. Caplan

Hampstead

`Big box' retailers destroy what makes the city special

The author of the editorial "Target, Marshall's eye Howard Street" (Jan. 15) just doesn't get it: Replacing historic buildings with "big box" retailers would simply add to the decline of Baltimore.

People do not move to the suburbs to be closer to the strip malls where such retailers can be found. They move because of lower crime, lower taxes and better schools. Thus, they will not move back to Baltimore simply because there would be a Target store nearby.

Historic buildings, on the other hand, offer something that cannot be found in the bland, generic suburbs. These buildings are part of what makes Baltimore unique. Anyone can build a generic "big box" retail building, but no one can build a 100-year-old historic building.

Charlie Shettle

Baltimore

Why publish address of a smutty Web site?

I think The Sun did the city of Baltimore a disservice by printing the Web address that leads to pornography rather than information on the city ("Web site owner links city to smut," Jan. 14).

Joyce E. Gorsuch

Hockessin, Del.

Ignoring issues of class causes integration to fail

Two items in The Sun's "Finding the limits of integration" (Jan. 6) perhaps pointed to the real reason integration has failed in Topeka, Kan.

The president of the local NAACP was quoted as saying, "Man, it ain't cool to be intellectual," citing the philosophy of the hip-hop culture. No, it isn't. In the United States, "intellectual" is a class distinction, as evidenced each evening by the TV parade of expert commentators. The message is clear: "Some people are better than others, and here they are."

But we avoid discussing class overtly and settle on race. Schools Superintendent Robert McFrazier was correct: Race is for the statistician.

The NAACP chapter president also bemoaned the failure of black children to value education, thus ensuring "their second-class status." This seems to imply that they already are at a second-class status before the children can even choose whether to value education.

Perhaps the grand failures of integration in Topeka and elsewhere are in part the result of pretending to ignore that class distinctions do indeed exist and pretending social inequities can be resolved at another level of abstraction - race.

Michael Folker

Owings Mills

How far will the Army go to meet recruiting goals?

The Sun's article regarding the Army's updated policies for hairstyles, body piercings, etc., left me and, I am sure, many others (especially former military personnel) in total shock, anger and disbelief ("Cornrows, nail polish and dyed hair are OK in updated Army dress code," Jan 9).

Although I realize hair alone cannot attest to a soldier's ability to perform a military task, most people have always understood the strict rules governing appearances of military personnel. And most young men entered the service to gain a degree of that discipline.

I am very aware times have changed dramatically since my days in uniform. But I can't help but wonder how far or how low the "new Army" will go to meet its quotas.

Garland L. Crosby

Baltimore

Most Americans voted for Al Gore's agenda

The letter "Time for `Gore losers' to stop their whining" (Jan. 16) is inaccurate. More people voted for Al Gore nationally than voted for President Bush.

More people in Florida also intended to vote for Mr. Gore. It was only a bad voting system and deliberate Republican wrongdoing that prevented their votes from being counted accurately. Thus it is untrue that Bush was "voted into the White House."

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