Saturday Mailbox


December 31, 2005

Carroll family keeps state's history alive

As the curator of Homewood House, the 1801 country house of Charles Carroll Jr. (the only son of Charles Carroll of Carrollton), I was pleased to read of the Carroll family's current efforts to ensure the ongoing stewardship of Doughoregan Manor, the family's ancestral home and one of the most intact early American plantations in existence ("Preservation mixed with profit," Dec. 25).

In the early 21st century, it is almost impossible to find a historic structure that stands in its original context. Even Homewood House, built as a country retreat far from downtown Baltimore more than 200 years ago, is surrounded today by the Johns Hopkins University's Homewood campus and Charles Village.

However, Doughoregan's setting is nearly unchanged from what it must have been when Charles Carroll Jr. visited his father there in the early 1800s.

The group of structures, including the main house, attached chapel, slave quarters and numerous outbuildings, makes Doughoregan unique in its survival and an extremely important architectural and cultural resource that illuminates our state's past.

The difficult issues the Carrolls face today - including the possibility of selling a portion of their property for development to fund the upkeep and preservation of Doughoregan for generations to come - are all too familiar to stewards of historic properties everywhere.

Even Homewood House, a museum that is open to the public, has a devoted membership and is owned and operated by the Johns Hopkins University, is always looking for new funding sources to address ongoing maintenance needs and augment our ability to offer quality programming.

As is true of many other privately owned historic properties, the easiest solution for the Carrolls might be to sell their land to the highest bidder.

But Doughoregan is lucky to have descendants of its original owner looking after it, and crafting a thoughtful plan to ensure it continues to be one of Maryland's most important historic sites.

Catherine Rogers Arthur


Spying undermines our core principles

Under the Fourth Amendment, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

The Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978 forbids the president from violating the Fourth Amendment.

But since 2002, Mr. Bush has admitted authorizing the National Security Agency to spy on Americans without a warrant.

The FISA rules offer little barrier to speed. Intelligence officials can even spy first and get a FISA order three days later.

So the president's circumvention of the law was not only unnecessary but comes off as an act of hubris.

There are those who argue that our preoccupation with our civil liberties takes away a necessary anti-terrorism protocol from our intelligence community ("Preoccupation with civil liberties could end up costing us much more," Opinion*Commentary, Dec. 21).

But it is clear that Mr. Bush could have complied with FISA and accomplished his purpose at the same time.

Yes, our intelligence people need to use clandestine operations to achieve their mission, but we shouldn't violate the U.S. Constitution to do it.

In the process, we abrogate the principles of democracy on which this country was founded. And, after all, isn't that what the terrorists want?

George L. Darley

Glen Burnie

Munich attack sign of horrors to come

If the Munich assault on Israeli athletes was as suicidal as Richard C. Gross argues, why did it take all those years for Israel to hunt down and kill the terrorists who perpetrated it ("After the massacre, into the maelstrom," Dec. 25)?

But this dastardly attack was indeed as prophetic as the events in Munich in 1938 were, as suicide bombings have now become almost legitimized in the minds of many who support the political objectives of the terrorists.

And so there's a direct link not only between events in Munich in 1972 and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks but also to the more distant past.

And that link remains the all-too-common international appeasement that is not entirely dissimilar from the way British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain gave in to Adolf Hitler back in the 1930s.

Jack Eisenberg


Critical thinking disqualifies `design'

I concur with the writer of the letter "Using judicial fiat to quash inquiry" (Dec. 26) that critical thinking should be taught as the heart of science. Indeed, I include a class on intelligent design in my college course on "Cosmic Origins."

However, critical thinking is hard to evaluate.

Our current primary and secondary education system is driven by standards enforced by high-stakes, multiple-choice testing.

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