Letters To The Editor


August 15, 2008

Activists blazed trail toward equal rights

Lawrence E. Harrison is right that Sen. Barack Obama's candidacy marks a new period in the black cultural experience ("The last gasps of black victimology?" Commentary, Aug. 10). However, his attempt to paint the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson and other activists as simply complainers who play the race card is unfounded.

The fact that such leaders rise up to speak in defense of the oppressed is appropriate. That's what real leaders do.

Black Americans have been the victims of incredibly unfair treatment, and we, to this day, continue to be affected by the legacy of slavery and discrimination that scars the opening portion of American history.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke up - and when he was alive, many people in the mainstream vilified him as a troublemaker and an agitator, just as they now often seek to vilify Mr. Jackson or the Rev. Al Sharpton for speaking out when things need to be said.

From his undoubtedly comfortable university post in Massachusetts, Mr. Harrison (who is not an African-American) announces the end of an era in black politics with a comparison to a Beethoven symphony. How elitist is that?

From the trenches in West Baltimore, I can report that there continues to be injustice in America, much of it cultural but much of it also racial.

Americans - red, brown, white, black and yellow - have made a lot of progress, but some of that progress is certainly the result of the work of those Mr. Harrison calls the "depleted and increasingly irrelevant old guard."

Those so-called irrelevant complainers had the courage to protest, practice nonviolent disobedience, be arrested and, in some cases, be murdered to point out what was wrong and to work to make it right.

Unfortunately, to be black in America is still to be at a general disadvantage. But times have changed. And those of us who have benefited from the changes understand that they did not change without people agitating for change.

We will not be told by pencil-pushing academics that people who put themselves on the line for equality are now irrelevant.

Philip Hodge, Baltimore

New way to treat shortage of doctors

The Sun's article describing the shortage of primary care doctors in the state calls attention to a health care workforce problem that has several solutions ("Family doctors called scarce," Aug. 12).

In addition to increasing the number of physicians in primary care, another way to address the shortage of physicians would be to pair them with physician's assistants.

PAs can be trained relatively quickly to extend the practice capabilities of physicians. Yet the Maryland Physician Workforce Study mentioned in the article did not consider the use of PAs and similar providers, who could work with the existing cadre of primary care doctors to extend health care in rural communities.

Having PAs work with physicians has been widely accepted across the nation as a solution to rural health care needs, and this strategy has been endorsed by most rural health associations as well as the federal government.

Maryland should embrace this concept as well.

James F. Cawley, Washington

Richard C. Rohrs, Randallstown

The writers are, respectively, the director of the physician assistant/master's in public health program at George Washington University and the director of hospital medicine for Northwest Hospital in Randallstown.

Judges failed to protect public

The Kent County District Court did Candy Lynn Baldwin, the 19-year-old who reportedly crossed the center line in the recent Bay Bridge tragedy, no favor by granting her probation before judgment in both of her speeding convictions ("Two-way traffic to continue on span," Aug. 13).

In their misguided leniency, the courts also failed to protect the public from a real danger.

When will the rights and safety of all drivers be respected by sending a clear message to those who make our roads more dangerous?

Eileen Shryock, Catonsville

Flex-fuel pumps for the rest of us

It's very nice that Gov. Martin O'Malley wants to set up E-85 (ethanol) pumps so that the state's fleet of 1,200 flex-fuel vehicles can use them instead of gasoline ("State to increase ethanol pumps," Aug. 6).

I have a flex-fuel vehicle that can use E-85, and so do many other people.

Where is the governor's emphasis on getting everyone access to such pumps?

Frank F. Braunstein, Pikesville

Finding the funds to unclog roads

Michael Dresser's article "Road Block?" (July 31) accurately framed the growing challenge of funding transportation infrastructure.

The current ebbing of state revenue for transportation projects is just the beginning of a downward funding spiral.

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