Letter To The Editor


August 12, 2008

Fund alternatives to use of violence

Congratulations to Mayor Sheila Dixon and the city Health Department for recognizing that violence is a largely preventable public health issue and supporting Operation Safe Streets ("Giving youths safer choices," Aug. 9).

I wonder if others noted the irony of the article's placement next to a photo describing the commissioning of a $1.3 billion destroyer ("A harbor nudge," Aug. 9) even as the article outlined the need for an additional $345,000 to keep this proven program alive.

How sad that we think we must spend hundreds of billions annually on defense systems while our children are dying of a preventable "disease" for want of funding.

I'm not saying we shouldn't have a strong national defense; I'm saying we needn't have it at the expense of neighborhood safety.

By applying the same public health model the city is using to the root causes of violence internationally, we could expand our capacity to nonviolently resolve conflict before it erupts into violence, and save billions of dollars and many lives each year.

There is a citizen movement to establish a U.S. Department of Peace and Nonviolence that would work in partnership with existing departments (including the Department of Defense) to do just that.

There's no need for programs such as Operation Safe Streets to go without.

To prevent that just requires a change in strategy, from reaction to prevention, and the expansion of our capacity to resolve conflicts before they need force to be resolved.

It will take citizen commitment and action to make that shift happen.

Wendy Greene, Columbia

The writer is managing director of the Peace Alliance.

Passing the torch to new generation

I read with interest and frustration Paul West's article "White seniors energize McCain campaign" (Aug. 10).

I am a white 74-year-old who takes great pride in his accumulated wisdom. So I am very frustrated when I read or hear a member of my generation make comments such as: "The candidate is too young" or "The candidate is black."

This is the very sad truth: Many white people in my generation were taught that being white was the norm and that people of color were somehow inferior. I am angry and frustrated that some members of my generation have dragged this preconception into the 21st century.

There has never been a candidate who has had the experience to be the president until he becomes president.

Both candidates should be reviewed based on their potential to lead and not by any other criteria, especially race or age.

Older folks do tend to hold on to the past. This was OK 20 years ago but not today. Today, we have to use a computer, an ATM machine and the gaggle of modern gadgets as a way of life.

How about giving the kids a shot at leading the country?

God knows we did our share to bring this country to where it is now. It is time for my generation to make way for future generations.

John Holter, Baltimore

Blind skaters imperil others

I skate at Northwest ice rink, and I think the idea of a large group of blind people skating with others is dangerous ("Blind skaters back on rink," Aug. 7). This is not because of any prejudice against the blind but a concern for everyone's safety.

I have the utmost sympathy for blind people. But in this case, I think they are being unreasonable.

Skating is a high-risk sport for everyone but especially for people who cannot see.

The rink manager was right to offer to cordon off an area of the rink for the blind skaters.

The skaters say they want to be treated like everyone else, but they are not like everyone else. Offering to give them their own skating area was a way to protect everyone's safety, not to ostracize them or make them unwelcome.

I think that group needs to stop being so self-centered and realize that fitting in means considering the needs and safety of everyone around and not just what it wants.

M. A. Korman, Baltimore

Blaming others blocks solutions

The column "The last gasps of black victimology?" (Commentary, Aug. 10) makes a compelling case.

Throughout the world, there are many places where a solution to problems would be within reach if people could stop focusing only on past injustice.

This is particularly true in China, where memories of past humiliation prevent solutions for Tibet, and in the Muslim world, which, although much of it is swimming in oil wealth, can't accept Israel's existence as a result of a culture of victimology. And the paramount example today is in Zimbabwe, where much of Africa looks the other way only because the evildoers are black like they are. If Zimbabwe's Robert G. Mugabe were white, he wouldn't be coddled by South African President Thabo Mbeki and other African leaders.

In short, I think we have to get beyond blaming all of our failings on others and wallowing in the past to escape responsibility for the present.

Leonard Oberstein, Baltimore

Why clone pet when the shelters are full?

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