Biased blacks lack the power of white racists Gregory...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 24, 2002

Biased blacks lack the power of white racists

Gregory Kane continues the maddening habit of journalists who confuse the public by regarding every kind of racial bigotry as "racism" ("Mfume's dreaded words offer a much-needed dose of reality," July 17).

NAACP President Kweisi Mfume was right: Blacks can and do practice racial prejudice -- of the "I don't like you because of your race" variety. But Mr. Kane is wrong when he equates black bigotry with white bigotry.

Power is indeed important because although individual prejudice can be harmful, institutional racism is systemic and, therefore, far more devastating. The test here is that no black person in America can make a decision that has negative racial consequences for whites that cannot be undone by an authoritative expression of power controlled essentially by whites.

The opposite obviously is not true.

Ronald Walters

College Park

The writer is a professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Lack of punishment causes city's crime

Apparently without realizing it, Daniel W. Webster and Nancy Lord Lewin touch upon the true source of Baltimore's crime problem in their column "Attack city gun violence at source" (Opinion Commentary, July 19).

They point out that people are "rarely arrested" and, if arrested and convicted, "rarely go to jail" for violating current gun control laws. Yet they imply that Baltimore, which has a homicide rate nine times higher than the rest of the state, would benefit from more restrictive gun laws.

But the true cause of Baltimore's stunningly high violent crime rate is obvious: Criminals have learned through experience that most crimes go unpunished. If Baltimore has a true desire to reduce violent crime, we need only to start enforcing current laws.

Enacting new laws that will criminalize currently legal behavior, while allowing currently illegal behavior to go unpunished, is a crime-fighting tactic that defies logic.

Roger Goff

Baltimore

Teen who was killed is the real victim

I felt appalled and saddened at the sentiment expressed in one of the letters titled "Man who shot bike thief is not a `murderer,'" July 18).

The writer questions whether the boy, David Stewart, deserved to die. Her answer, "Maybe not," sent chills down my spine. She also calls Mr. Stewart a malicious criminal, and supports the actions of Vietnam Veteran Edward Day.

But Baltimore is not the war zone of Vietnam, and citizens are not entitled to defend their bicycles by killing children. Children make mistakes, and if private citizens are allowed to punish these mistakes with death, then what kind of society do we have?

Mr. Day should be charged with murder and sent to prison. And we should remember that the true victim in this tragedy was not a man who had his bicycle stolen, but a boy whose life was.

Kevin Morrison

Columbia

State should block sale of race tracks

The sale of Maryland's major thoroughbred race tracks to Magna Entertainment Corp. appears unwise ("Canadian firm to buy Pimlico, Laurel tracks," July 16).

The firm's leader, Frank Stronach, has been described as a visionary who believes he can make the tracks prosper with a dazzling display of shops and entertainment and betting by telephone.

But although he has spent some money on the race tracks he owns in the United States, there is no evidence to show that he has significantly improved any of them.

If Mr. Stronach fails to deliver what he's promised, the result would be disastrous for racing in Maryland. To prevent this, the state should not approve the sale.

Instead, slot machines should be allowed at the tracks to boost their income and improve the quality of racing.

Bail L. Rao

Pikesville

Take responsibility for our city parks

It seems that while Mayor Martin O'Malley was trying to make up his mind concerning his future political career, our city's parks were gathering more trash and debris.

But while Baltimore's parks may be a disgrace, the garbage that is dumped there did not get there by itself.

Cleaning up the parks is one thing, but unless stricter rules are enforced and citizens held responsible, our parks will be nothing more than a drop-off point for all sorts of litter.

Richard B. Crystal

Baltimore

WellPoint's lawsuit menaced Maryland

It is alarming that the for-profit company seeking to acquire CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield of Maryland pursued a lawsuit all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court that would have killed a key consumer protection law for people in need of medical care.

While WellPoint Health Networks has said it would support Maryland laws governing health insurers, had its lawsuit succeeded it would have overturned the appeals and grievance laws of 42 states, including Maryland. Fortunately, the Supreme Court rejected WellPoint's arguments.

That's a victory for Marylanders who belong to HMOs. This state has a solid external review process that protects patients against health insurers who unfairly deny them coverage for appropriate and necessary medical treatment.

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