Letters To The Editor


May 24, 2004

What will it take to stop the crisis at DJS facilities?

Conditions at the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School and at other Department of Juvenile Services facilities have reached a state of emergency. As reported in what seem to be countless Sun articles, most recently "For jailed kids, service as usual" (editorial May 18), youths are routinely beaten, sexually assaulted and abused within the halls of the Hickey School, and no one seems willing to do anything about it.

Appropriately, there has recently been a massive public outcry against inhumane treatment of Iraqi prisoners of war. But where is the outcry for Maryland's children?

Maryland's DJS has failed, and for as long as it allows the atrocities to continue at Hickey and other youth facilities, the Ehrlich administration has failed as well. Children are at risk every single minute of every single day, and it is time for the current administration to stop talking and start doing something about it.

Apparently, it is not tragic enough that children are dying emotionally and psychologically in these youth jails. Shamefully, I suppose nothing substantive will be done until a physical death occurs.

When this happens, as it inevitably will if conditions are allowed to continue as they are, the blood of that child will be on the hands of the Ehrlich administration, DJS and, yes, the idle and apathetic hands of the Maryland citizenry.

T. Davis


Democracy is not imposed by force

Anthony H. Cordesman ties himself in knots trying to find a middle ground to our self-imposed problems in Iraq and, by extension, the entire Middle East ("Before it boils over," Opinion * Commentary, May 20). But in spite of his well-intentioned efforts, his ideas still come off as another "stay the course" clichM-i that echoes the delusional policies of the Vietnam War era.

Even if one joins in Mr. Cordesman's efforts to be as charitable as possible in portraying our motives in Iraq, our invasion was anchored in one tragic, foolhardy fallacy: democracy imposed by force.

No nation can impose democracy on any other nation at the point of a gun. No amount of verbiage from the left, right or center can get around that.

Joe Roman


Gaza tunnels hide weapons that kill

The Sun's article "Several are killed as Israelis fire on Palestinian march" (May 20) was most misleading.

The article should have included the fact that since September 2000, the Israel Defense Forces have uncovered and demolished more than 85 tunnels in the Rafah area in the Gaza Strip.

These tunnels are part of a large-scale smuggling industry, used to bring rockets, launchers, explosives, rifles and ammunition into the Gaza Strip from Egypt, which, together with the Palestinian Authority, has turned a blind eye to these operations.

For the safety of all Israelis, it has become of paramount importance not only to destroy these tunnels but to demolish the buildings used by terrorist groups to conceal the openings of these tunnels.

The weaponry successfully smuggled into the Gaza Strip from Egypt has been used in the murderous attacks that have left more than 900 Israelis dead and 6,000 injured in the last four years.

Michael Lowenstein


Oil prices can serve as a wake-up call

All we have been hearing about is the high price of gasoline (editorial cartoon, May 19). People are complaining about not being able to fill their tanks, and some people are looking to trade in their SUVs for more fuel-efficient vehicles.

But has anyone considered the consequences for General Motors, Ford and DaimlerChrysler if they have to shut down shifts at plants that build SUVs, much less close those plants completely when 12-miles-per-gallon behemoths are no longer fashionable?

Detroit seems particularly dependent on SUVs and personal trucks, and it takes years to bring new products to market. Let's hope rising oil prices are a wake-up call for Congress to raise fuel-efficiency standards and to Detroit to prepare for the inevitable.

Tim Sharman


We must still learn to be more sensitive

H. George Hahn II ("The `multicultural' lie," Opinion * Commentary, May 18) is certainly correct that the English-Western cultural tradition is still dominant in the United States.

The problem is that, along with a concern for civil rights, due process and the freedom of speech and religion, our culture also includes racial intolerance and the dislike of foreigners as well as sexism and homophobia. We own both the good and the bad aspects of our tradition, even in the 21st century.

Given this reality, the "curricular virtues" of toleration and sensitivity, which Mr. Hahn belittles, are still in short supply. Today's headlines about the systematic mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners and continued opposition to gay marriage provide ample evidence of this.

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