December 02, 2008

Stereotypes based on ignorance, bigotry

Ron Smith wrote an otherwise wonderful and warm commentary but ruined it with the statement that "all stereotypes are more or less true or they wouldn't endure" ("Holiday binds families, brings to mind blessings," Commentary, Nov. 26).

So, I guess that it's "more or less true," in Mr. Smith's view, that Jews are miserly, that African-Americans love to feast on fried chicken and watermelon and are great dancers, that Muslims are radical anti-American terrorists, etc.

No, Mr. Smith, the reason for stereotypes in the first place is ignorance and bigotry. The reason they endure is more ignorance and bigotry.

I am sure that there are some who are Jewish who are miserly, but I've known just as many (if not more) people of other faiths who are miserly. I am sure that there are some African-Americans who enjoy fried chicken and watermelon and love to dance, but I also know at least as many whites, Latinos and Asian-Americans who enjoy the same things.

We live in a time of deep crises for our country. We all need to come together to get through these things, and that means that at least for the time being, we must put aside our often petty differences and prejudices.

This includes our stereotypes of one another.

Paul Matlin, Perry Hall

Wonderful reminder of value of family

As a left-leaning liberal, I rarely, if ever, have had occasion to read Ron Smith's column. However, "Holiday binds families, brings to mind blessings" (Commentary, Nov. 26) caught my eye. Wow, what a revelation.

Mr. Smith truly captured the spirit and meaning of Thanksgiving past, present and, I hope, future. I was so impressed with his column that I asked my wife and children to read it as well. We were all very moved by Mr. Smith's obvious sincerity and insightful reminiscences about the importance of staying connected with family and friends.

As my own father used to say to me, "When you have nothing else, you always have family."

Mr. Smith's excellent column really confirmed the critical importance of this truth for my family and me.

Thanks for a great piece of writing.

James McCabe Jr., Baltimore

Kathleen Parker certainly no liberal

I had to laugh out loud when I read former Republican congressional candidate Michael Hargadon's letter to the editor, in which he called columnist Kathleen Parker a "shallow liberal" ("Readers speak out: the religious right and the election," letters Nov. 29).

If Mr. Hargadon had read Ms. Parker's columns on a regular basis, he would know she is far from a liberal; if he had just Googled her name, he would have seen see "conservative columnist" and "conservative ideology" come up repeatedly.

Jim Maher, Baltimore

Poultry produced in unhealthy ways

Thank you for the article "Study ties chicken trucks to bacteria" (Nov. 27).

If there is that kind of concentration of bacteria in the trucks hauling the chickens, one can only imagine what the concentration is in the chicken houses and in the chickens themselves.

And just how healthy is a chicken that has been raised in a cage with barely enough room to turn around, is surrounded by manure and breathes its fumes, gets no sunlight and no exercise and is loaded with antibiotics to ward off the bacteria it is exposed to in confinement?

Is it any wonder that the Chesapeake Bay continues to deteriorate with so many chicken houses polluting it?

Anne Hackney, Parkton

Upholding life in face of terror

I was both saddened and sickened by the murder of innocents at the hands of the terrorists in Mumbai ("Indian forces end attacks," Nov. 29).

The war on terrorism is between those who wreak death in the face of life and those who uphold life in the face of death.

My heroes in this war are those like the members of the Holtzberg and the Scherr families who tried to pursue the sanctity of life and beauty in the face of those who wreak death and destruction cloaked in religion.

I do have hope for the future as I believe there are more people pursuing life than death.

Stuart R. Varon, Lutherville

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