- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 2, 2004

Lessons in black history

Your article “Black history: A yearlong lesson” (Page 1, yesterday) has me concerned. No matter what we as parents do to try to eliminate racism, the Maryland State Department of Education has just perpetuated it.

Why does the department feel compelled to emphasize accomplishments made throughout our history based on one’s ethnic background? Never has there been a history book written or lesson given that states, “Thomas Jefferson, a white man, wrote the Declaration of Independence” or “Thomas Edison, a white man, was a great inventor.”

Give our children the proper education that we send them to school for. Teach them about all the great Americans, but remove the race factor, and soon enough, that factor will not be a factor at all, anywhere.

JAY R. MORGAN

Great Mills, Md.

I believe Charles Christian’s assertion that Maryland’s new black-history curriculum has never been done before is incorrect. When I was growing up in the small town of West Columbia, Texas, years before Martin Luther King Day, we were taught history in chronological order without color distinctions.

I can remember in fifth grade (1974-75) studying Phillis Wheatley, Frederick Douglass, Dred Scott, Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver, Mahalia Jackson and others as we reached their time period. Apparently, all Maryland has done is update an old Texas curriculum.

BRAD ANDERSON

San Antonio

Post-divorce families

As a divorced father, while I was reading Suzanne Fields’ column (“Tilting for the children,” Op-Ed, yesterday) I found my thoughts drifting to the children of divorce and particularly to those living under sole maternal custody. Mrs. Fields, and everyone else, is right to cite data showing that children of divorce are put at greater risk, particularly when they are abandoned and unsupervised during the teen years by their parent(s) to casually hang out and hook up.

In my view, the optimal solution for America is to join an emerging worldwide social movement that seeks a paradigm shift in our thinking about post-divorce family life. The paradigm shift involves a change from seeing the post-divorce family as sole maternal custodian to seeing the post-divorce family as equally shared physical custodian and — most critically — enhanced childhood and adolescent supervision by two involved parents, rather than just one. While divorce severs marital bonds, it should do the opposite for both mother-child and father-child bonds.

Personally, I do not like getting up at 6 a.m. to see my high school daughter off to the bus. But, then again, we sometimes get a chance to talk, and I get a chance to write letters to the editor before moving on to my day job. In any case, she knows where I am.

GORDON E. FINLEY

Miami

Save the mustangs

Thank you for publishing the article regarding the wild mustangs Sen. Conrad Burns is trying to have slaughtered (“Provision targets wild horses for slaughter,” Nation, Tuesday). I’d be interested to know if he, or anyone else, is getting any financial compensation for the slaughter of these horses.

Someone should investigate the impropriety of this whole issue.I’d be willing to bet the majority of his constituents are against this.

LAURI BARR

La Porte, Texas

Shame on us

As someone who has spent his entire career working for and with nonprofit institutions, I am embarrassed by the list of examples of pork barrel spending in Donald Lambro’s column “Glutted on pork” (Commentary, yesterday).

Though lawmakers get and deserve criticism for putting these provisions into spending bills, there are others who may be even more culpable but are not being recognized. These are the trustees and directors of nonprofit institutions who lobby their legislators to insert these provisions in the first place.

Contributions to nonprofit institutions are at an all-time high, and experts in the field believe that the potential for private support of nonprofits likewise has never been higher. The practice of asking legislators to insert provisions to fund nonprofit causes that should be funded by local communities is as reprehensible as the act of legislators doing so.

Whether trustees, directors and legislators are acting out of laziness in undertaking the work involved in raising these funds from private sources or out of hubris (“because we can”), it is wrong.

As a taxpayer, I resent having any of my money used for causes that I would not support with my own tax-deductible contributions. I support my community and national causes in which I believe. That is my choice. I do not want legislators who are doing favors for influential trustees and directors in their communities making those decisions for me.

VICTOR G. DYMOWSKI

Alexandria

Pentagon, Red Cross and Gitmo prisoners

You have to admire the Pentagon’s chutzpah. In the face of another prisoner-abuse scandal, this one at Guantanamo, the Department of Defense dispatches a team of surrogates to accuse the International Committee of the Red Cross of cruel and inhumane criticism (“Pentagon, analysts hit anti-U.S. bias at Red Cross,” Page 1, Wednesday).

Please, spare me the righteous indignation. If the president and the Pentagon can apply a double standard on human rights — that as an enlightened superpower under attack, it’s OK for us to bend the rules, but not other nations — should they be so surprised that the Red Cross applies a double standard and outwardly criticizes U.S. mistreatment of “detainees”? What does it matter whether the criticism is public or private? Torture is torture, after all.

Once again, the Bush administration is displaying its greatest strength: not the protection of human rights, but a superhuman ability to avoid accountability. If the government won’t be straight with us, we should be glad that the ICRC will.

ROBERT J. INLOW

Charlottesville

A fresh perspective

I really appreciated Wesley Pruden’s comments (“Wanted: a bottom with ego to match,” Pruden on Politics, Tuesday) on a successor to Dan Rather at CBS. It was refreshing to hear a journalist take a realistic view of what the media has become and to call them on their actions.

While I do not always agree with every angle The Washington Times takes on issues, it is wonderful to have a paper that is bold enough to look at things from more than one perspective. I hope that audiences are encouraged to support a fresh face on CBS, someone who will not be played like a marionette to the tune of whatever the mainstream media has to offer. Hopefully someone with less of an ego and more of a desire to report unbiased news will fill the spot.

HEATHER MACQUILLIAM

Hollywood, Md.

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