- The Washington Times - Friday, March 17, 2006

With neighbors like these …

I read with interest your article “Couple told to raze Chevy Chase home” (Metropolitan, yesterday). My parents have lived on the street in question for almost 50 years, and I was born and raised there and still visit frequently.

The story is indeed a sad one — a young couple with children bought the property, were forced to pull down a large portion of the home because of extensive damage, applied and received the proper licenses, started work on the new house and were taken to court over a question of offsets. Apparently, after some disgruntled neighbors and their lawyers brought the matter to court, it was decided that the county had made a “mistake” in granting the licenses, and the county rescinded them, leaving the young couple saddled with an insurmountable debt that surely will drive them to bankruptcy.

The parties driving the lawsuit, among them an editor of The Washington Post, a staff writer for the New Yorker, an ABC news reporter and a prominent lawyer, were “simply not willing to overlook violations of the law,” according to their attorney, David W. Brown. Apparently, this zeal to see justice served prompted them to hire lawyers to ensure the enforcement of zoning regulations and convinced the county of its errant ways.

In the meantime, the sacrificial lamb in this is a young family, forced to liquidate all of their savings (not an issue for those bringing the lawsuit, I’m sure) and driven from a neighborhood they had thought would be their home for many years to come. Yes, as Mr. Brown says, it is a “long and tearful story,” and it is appalling that he would level accusations against this family for trying to “manipulate neighbors by explaining their plight in handwritten letters.” Theirs is a tragic plight engendered by Mr. Brown’s clients.

And the polarization of the neighborhood? I can say that from my long-distance view, it is indeed a sad thing to have happen to my parents’ neighborhood where, when I was growing up, the doors were open to all the children, and the neighbors helped one another without question. I think it is a terribly sad reflection on Chevy Chase that the people who brought suit are able to sleep with clear consciences at night.

I am privileged, in my neighborhood, to be blessed with neighbors like the Duffys. The complainants should be so lucky.

DOROTHEA STUBBS

Callaway, Md.

Let men be, well, men

Suzanne Fields made a few good points regarding the situation of manly men and the effect it has on women and what women want (although even if you tell us guys what you want, we are still mostly clueless as to what the heck women are actually saying) (“A man’s a man, for all that,” Op-Ed, Thursday). What is not mentioned here and elsewhere is the stress men have been put under by the feminization of our culture.

I find guys who reject the total feminization of the male role to be better adjusted, happier and, overall, more positive about life. Most of these well-adjusted fellows are manly and tough but don’t engage in boorish behavior. That they are indifferent to the disdain liberals and feminists heap upon them no doubt causes great angst to the feminists and their fellow travelers, although I know that a lot of women find it comforting when a man can defend, shelter and feed her and the children they brought into the world. To suppress this natural desire to engage in life as a man should is harmful to men’s egos, and the aggressive nature, when suppressed in that manner, finds other outlets, many that are not nearly as healthy and proper as caring for one’s family.

The great social experiment regarding men’s and women’s roles is over, and though there may be a few aspects we should keep (such as men learning to cook and clean, do laundry and other things that make it possible for a woman to work outside the house, and women learning to shoot, fish, mow the grass and take out the garbage) society needs to forget about this notion that men and women are emotional equals, because nature has dictated that this most decidedly is not the case.

NORMAN HENDRICKSON

Bowie

It’s a question of ‘honor’

When lofty honors are given out, strange things sometimes happen. This observation is prompted by an item in “U.S. ‘atrocities’ ” (Culture, et cetera, Thursday). In 2002, President Bush awarded “the highest civil honor our nation can bestow” to “12 outstanding individuals,” including Hank Aaron, Bill Cosby, Katharine Graham, Irving Kristol and Nelson Mandela.

Granted, any president must have his political ear to the ground on such occasions. Certainly, a respected baseball player, entertainer, publisher and intellectual can’t hurt him.

But why honor Nelson Mandela? His sad eyes and grandfatherly manner should not blot out his past involvement with Marxist “freedom fighters” who sought to overthrow the South African government armed by violence. Mr. Mandela understandably opposed the apartheid regime, as did thousands of other South Africans — black and white. He was jailed not for his views, but for his direct involvement in acts of sabotage and for inciting violence along with other guerrillas armed with thousands of grenades and tons of ammunition.

After the peaceful transition to majority rule, Mr. Mandela assumed the role of an elder statesmen, but he didn’t renounce his revolutionary past. From time to time, he reverted to his earlier role by denouncing the United States for committing “unspeakable atrocities in the world.”

In 2002, President Bush might have chosen British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

ERNEST W. LEFEVER

Chevy Chase

Blowing smoke

Columnist Jacob Sullum bemoans the outdoor smoking ban in Calabasas, Calif., claiming “there’s no evidence outdoor smoking jeopardizes bystanders’ health” (“Calabasas clean air Cossacks,” Commentary, Thursday).

However, there’s so much evidence that almost 800 jurisdictions — including Washington — ban smoking in certain outdoor areas, and California has just declared outdoor tobacco smoke to be a “toxic air pollutant” from which bystanders must be protected.

VELMA DESSUIT

Action on Smoking and Health

Washington

Basic training

I can understand how Flagg Youngblood feels, and I do not question his criticism of his alma mater (” ‘Deeply ashamed’ of Yale,” Op-Ed, yesterday). A great deal of political effort has been expended to compare the current war in Iraq to that of Vietnam in the ‘60s, which I think is invalid in most respects. However, the disrespect and lack of support shown to the military by the faculties and administrations of elitist universities is quite similar.

As I look back on my days at the University of Michigan, before I was drafted into the Army in 1970, I recall a faculty similar to Yale’s. However, something happened to me on the way to the war: I got a healthy dose of honesty and reality never experienced before in my academic cocoon. My Southern drill sergeant was adamant about teaching me basic first aid, how to shoot, and the basic rules of military culture because he wanted me to survive, and he was quite open about where I was headed. This was in strong contrast to the disingenuous academic culture I had left behind, in which prospective draftees or recruits were encouraged to head to Canada regardless of the consequences. I am convinced that those faculty members who encouraged this were more concerned about their politics than their students. They can be certain that to this day, I have more respect for my old, “lifer,” drill sergeant than I ever will have for them.

SAMUEL BURKEEN

Reston

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