Ramsey for Baltimore
Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon is by no means moving too fast in her desire to select a police chief (“Dixon may name police chief soon,” Metro, Thursday), and the best man is former Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey. Mrs. Dixon is astutely aware of the vital need to have a highly qualified police chief in place to fight crime in an area with a high homicide rate.
She also understands that the city’s police department needs to regain its equilibrium by having in place a chief with integrity who can stabilize a department that has been disgraced by previous police commissioners.
Mr. Ramsey is the best man for the job. Mr. Ramsey was an exemplary leader as the police chief in the nation’s capital. He had many successes, including a reduction in homicides from 301 to 169 when he left the department as well as a drop in total crime by at least a third. He connected with various groups in the community, including the gay, lesbian and transgender populations; Latinos; and the deaf — to name a few. Most important, what frames his legacy is that he restored pride and respect, long overdue, in the police department.
Mr. Ramsey has dedicated his life and career to public service. Mrs. Dixon should not hesitate to select him as the new top cop to lead Baltimore. She won’t be sorry.
Prince George’s County
State’s Attorney’s Office
The Battle of South Mountain
I really enjoyed reading the article on the Civil War Battle of South Mountain on Saturday (“South Mountain sets a bloody stage,” Civil War ). The important Battle of Antietam usually overshadows South Mountain, but most Civil War historians know that for one to understand the former, one must study what happened three days before at South Mountain.
There is one important fact that only a Delaware historian would know, and that was the connection between George Alfred Townsend and Col. Alfred Torbert and Crampton’s Gap. The key question is why did “Gath” (Townsend’s pen name) buy the land on the top of Crampton’s Gap and place a beautiful War Correspondents Memorial Arch on the top of the gap?
Interestingly, both “Gath” and Torbert, the Union officer who led his men to capture the gap, were from little Georgetown, Del. “Gath” admired Torbert, Delaware’s greatest Civil War soldier, and purchased the top of Crampton’s Gap in 1884 (four years after Torbert’s death) to honor Torbert’s memory and memorialize his efforts on that September 1862 day when he led his men on a bayonet charge to force the gap. If one looks in the middle of the arch, one will see a marker honoring the efforts of Torbert and his men. So, the efforts of two Delawareans are the reason that Gathland State Park exists.
GARY D. WRAY
American genocide claims
Theodore G. Karakostas brings a whole new dimension to the “Armenian genocide” issue (“Bristol’s bigotry,” Letters, Thursday) in his response to my assertion that Adm. Mark Bristol, who succeeded Henry Morgenthau as the U.S. ambassador to Turkey after World War I, had repudiated the Morgenthau claim that Ottomans committed atrocities against the empire’s Armenian citizens. Now, it seems that the Greeks were also the victims of “death marches.”
There is no evidence of any Greeks being forced to march anywhere in the Ottoman Empire. History records that the Ottomans relocated Armenians from the war zone in eastern Anatolia to other Ottoman provinces such as Syria and Lebanon in 1915 when many Armenians joined the invading Russian armed forces to fight against their own country. The progeny of the survivors from that experience call it “The Death March” with some justification because too many of the evacuees lost their lives on the trip.
Greeks, on the other hand, invaded Anatolia after the Ottoman defeat and were repelled from Anatolia by the Turks, who declared their independence from the Ottoman Empire, abolished the Islamic caliphate of the sultans and founded the republic of Turkey we know today.
As for Adm. Bristol’s bigotry, he may have been an anti-Semite bigot but his view that the “Armenian genocide” claim is bogus has been upheld by disinterested historians including Bernard Lewis, who is a Jew, and Heath Lowry, both of Princeton University.
ALI F. SEVIN
Burton right on Kosovo
Muhamet Hamiti calls “mendacious” and “off the mark” Rep. Dan Burton’s suggestion that the problem of Kosovo should be solved by negotiation and compromise. (“Mendacious rhetoric,” Letters, Tuesday, in response to Mr. Burton’s Aug. 20 Commentary column, “Negotiating for peace in Kosovo”). In fact, it is Mr. Hamiti‘s letter that should win some kind of award for distortions and outright falsehoods.
Mr. Hamiti cites numbers (12,000) for the purported killings of Albanians in Kosovo. These numbers have long since been discredited, even by the anti-Serb Hague Tribunal; fewer than 3,000 bodies have been accounted for, of persons of all ethnic groups and involving all causes of death. Regarding Mr. Hamiti’s assertions about Albanians being “deported” from Kosovo, it should be remembered that Albanians fled in large numbers only after NATO’s attack began and after the launching of a Serbian counteroffensive against the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Indeed, tens of thousands of Albanians fled into Serbia, their supposed oppressor.
Besides, former President Slobodan Milosevic is, first, out of power and, second, dead. Should the United States demand an immediate and unconditional breakup of Iraq, regardless of the consequences, to grant independence to Kurdish and Shi’ite areas because of the late Saddam Hussein’s much greater crimes against those communities?
Mr. Hamiti says two-thirds of Kosovo’s Serbs still live in Kosovo. Their pastor, Bishop Rashko-Prizrenski Artemije of the Serbian Orthodox Church, says there are just 130,000 left out of a prewar population of slightly fewer than 400,000. Even if we accept Mr. Hamiti’s number, should we reward the Albanians for clearing from their homes, in supposed peacetime, “only” one-third of the Serbs, Roma, Croats, etc.?
Mr. Hamiti accuses Serbia’s current Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and former Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic of trying to create a “Greater Serbia.” By contrast, any Web search will turn up maps of a Greater Albania encompassing portions of Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), part of northern Greece (Cameria) and additional portions of southern Serbia. Several towns in FYROM recently announced they would secede and join Kosovo as soon as it becomes independent.
According to standard works on the Holocaust, including data available from the Yad Vashem memorial (which I recently visited) in Israel, the small Jewish community in Albania proper (200 persons) did survive World War II, as Mr. Hamiti asserts. However, though a handful of Albanian “righteous gentiles” should be lauded for their bravery in sheltering their Jewish neighbors, the main credit belongs to the Italian army, which protected Jews (and Serbs) in its occupation zones both in Albania and along the Dalmatian coast. Meanwhile, Kosovo’s much larger Jewish population was decimated by the Albanian Skanderbeg SS Division, along with massacres of Serbs.
Contrary to Mr. Hamiti’s claims, Mr. Burton’s column is a factual and brave indictment of a misguided policy. He should be commended, not slandered.
JAMES GEORGE JATRAS
American Council for Kosovo