Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 22, 2005

Funding formula must be changed to boost security

While I welcome the president's comments and attention to our port, I believe our federal leadership has not done enough on port security ("Bush urges Congress to extend Patriot Act," July 21).

Federal homeland security funding has disproportionately addressed airline security issues at the expense of the needs of port, rail and mass transit security. This must change.

Currently, homeland security grants are not awarded based on threats or high-risk areas. And it is simply wrong, for instance, to give Wyoming more federal security funds per capita than Maryland.

Maryland faces more threats because it is home to such high-risk targets as the port of Baltimore, Baltimore-Washington International Airport, the National Security Agency, Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, Fort Detrick and Aberdeen Proving Ground.

I believe we need to change this security funding formula to better protect our country while we hold grant recipients accountable for how they spend the funds. One step in this direction is the first responders bill I have supported, which would change the funding formula to base it on risk.

I believe that this change and others are critical to put money where it is needed most.

We must give our local, state and federal agencies the resources they need to keep the terrorists far away.

And al-Qaida and other terrorists are not going to wait for us to act.

C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger

Washington

The writer represents the Maryland's 2nd District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Stamp shows Mexico lacks full sensitivity

Clarence Page's column "Judging Mexico's racial sensitivity by the content of its caricature" (Opinion * Commentary, July 15) trivializes the controversy surrounding Mexico issuing the Memin Pinguin stamps.

Mr. Page fails to fully appreciate the continuing anti-black bias implicit in Mexico's notion of mestizaje (racial mixing) and the reason for that country's attempt to erase its third root - African ancestry.

Although Mexico did not have a formalized Jim Crow system after African slavery was abolished there, many legal restrictions were imposed on Afro-Mexicans.

And while Mr. Page correctly acknowledges that some of Mexico's heroes are Afro-Mexicans, he fails to mention that their African heritage is often overlooked or denied.

Further, while Mr. Page acknowledges the existence of Afro-Mexicans in the Costa Chica area, he neglects to mention that Afro-Mexicans, like black Americans, protested the issuance of the stamps.

Today, most Americans, I hope, realize that stereotypical images of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans such as Speedy Gonzalez or the Frito Bandito are inappropriate.

But President Vicente Fox's dismissive attitude toward complaints about the Memin Pinguin stamps suggests that Mexico still has a long way to go on racial sensitivity.

Taunya Lovell Banks

Baltimore

The writer is a professor at the University of Maryland School of Law.

Roberts nomination changes the subject

President Bush has dragged out his tried-and-true tactics to deal with the difficulties facing his administration and the federal investigation into the Valerie Plame outing.

When he's in trouble, he changes the subject.

The nomination of John G. Roberts Jr. to the Supreme Court, at this time, is nothing more than a diversion to take the heat off the White House and Karl Rove ("Roberts has avoided tipping his hand," July 21).

One can hope that the media will not fall for this one as they did for the attacks on Sen. John McCain's private life, the Swift Boat veterans' claims and the manipulative terror alerts - to name just a few.

Paula Baranowski

Havre de Grace

Family's leap puts kids in harm's way

While I do not understand the strong desire of the Jaspers to emigrate to Israel, I respect it ("A Leap of Faith," July 17). However, the decision to move to a settlement over the Green Line with their children earns my disapproval.

While the politics of their choice are open to discussion, one reality is not: The Jaspers have deliberately moved their five young children into harm's way. Certainly, as adults, they have the right to make that move themselves, but I think taking their children is unconscionable.

The Torah may demand that Jews live in Israel, but it does not require them to live in Gaza or the West Bank.

Lisa Snyder

Owings Mills

Alsop headed for top of the music world

I am a full-time studio and jazz musician living in New York, and I have worked on many occasions with the Baltimore Symphony's next conductor, Marin Alsop ("BSO names music director despite musicians' protests," July 20).

I was born and raised in Baltimore, and I studied piano and percussion in the 1940s at the Peabody Institute. I am still very active in the music world.

I have always known that Ms. Alsop was going to ascend to the very top of the conducting world. And that is for only one reason: She is the best conductor I've ever played for.

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