Letters to the editor

Are black leaders hypocritical in their response to hate crime? Plus: Limbaugh's rush to judgment on McCain; do teachers necessitate tutors?

Topics: Rush Limbaugh, Consumerism, John McCain, R-Ariz.

Why are black leaders silent on black hate crimes?
BY EARL OFARI HUTCHINSON
(03/06/00)

Right on! How refreshing it is to see a black person (other than myself) point out the hypocrisy of black leaders. This latest racially motivated assault by a black person on white persons should have been a prime opportunity for these leaders to demonstrate their commitment to equal treatment and equal consideration. If this were a white-on-black incident, there would be no end to the very public and grandstanding demands for justice. By remaining silent on this revolting incident, black leaders unwittingly empower our enemies, and prove their own inadequacy in moving the struggle for equal rights forward into the next century.

– Andrew Ricks

I agree with Hutchinson that black leaders greatly risk losing the moral high ground when they fail to condemn black-on-white hate crimes. In fighting for equal treatment under the law for all individuals, minority groups must show the moral understanding to express outrage when majority groups are attacked simply because of their ethnic or racial background.

While I also share his opinion that there has been little comment by national black leaders, Hutchinson misses the fact that the first group to make a statement about this tragedy here in Pittsburgh was Tim Stevens, the NAACP’s Pittsburgh Chapter executive director. He made it very clear that at least his local group is outraged by the actions of Ronald Taylor, even if the national NAACP has been conspicuously quiet.

– Teddy Carroll

Pittsburgh, Pa.

Unlike Earl Ofari Hutchinson, I’ve heard no silence on black-on-white crimes such as the sickening spree murders last week in Pennsylvania. Blacks, as a group, are deeply upset and embarrassed by the actions of a deranged Colin Ferguson, or this apparently equally deranged gunman. If black folks aren’t taking to the streets over the bestial acts of a few of their members perhaps it’s because no one really believes the justice system will fail in any of these instances whether from inertia or miscarriage.

– Camille Goodison



The premise of the article — that no one in the “black community” has decried the killings in Wilkinsburg (near Pittsburgh) — is false. Here in the city where the crime occurred, the lack of “outrage” seems to have more to do with a sense of sadness and of a violation of the progress that has been made in black/white relationships in Wilkinsburg. Wilkinsburg has made tremendous strides in reducing gang-related crime, in improving poorly funded schools, in creation of jobs and in making available low income housing. In the midst of all this improvement, along came this horrific crime.

That the alleged killer hated whites is probable, based on literature found in his room, and his personal history, including what he said as he shot his victim. But the overwhelming sense that one gets reading the details of the crime is that he is utterly mad. And that madness seems to stand in contrast to a longer history of white on black crimes, where those who committed such crimes were quite mainstream in their behavior.

The easy rhetoric of the author aside, his words do not resonate as true here in Pittsburgh, where blacks and whites together are mourning the killings. The Reverend Healy, a former priest killed as he sat in a restaurant, was mourned by his brother who led prayers for an end to anger and violence, for the recovery of two victims who remain hospitalized, for the family of the man who shot them and for better community support of all people touched by mental illness.

Perhaps “outrage” is not the best response. Perhaps the words of Rev. Healy, chosen before his death for his liturgy, say it best: “God is personal and like a parent; thus we are all related, as sons and daughters, as brothers and sisters, as long-lost kith and kin. Life — on Earth and beyond — is the process of discovering and responding to each other as related to and therefore, responsible for each other. The kingdom of heaven is a family reunion: memories and laughs, apologies and forgiveness, promises and hopes.”

– Timothy Murphy, M.D.

The big, less-fat bully
BY ERIC BOEHLERT
(03/04/00)

As a long-time Limbaugh listener (and no-time caller) I, too, am dismayed by Rush’s tirade against McCain. Early in the campaign, when Dubya was expected to take the nomination without any serious fight, Rush emphasized two points to McCain-supporting callers: (1) Republicans should not beat each other up in the primaries, and (2) keep your eye on the ball — the November election.
Rush has obviously abandoned these two guiding principles by putting outlandish spins on McCain (e.g., on Dubya’s BJU visit: McCain — not Dubya — is a “divider,” because he has pointed out the school’s backward racist policies and anti-Catholic stance) and by failing to see that McCain is positioned to take the decisive swing vote in November. It’s obvious that McCain would also get the Republican vote in the general election if he’s the Republican candidate. Dubya, on the other hand, is setting himself up to get a Dole-sized portion of the vote in November. Limbaugh’s eye is off the ball.

– Matt Twomey

May I suggest that Rush Limbaugh doesn’t really want a Republican to win in November? His show seems to be predicated on bashing those he disagrees with. Therefore if Gore succeeds Clinton, Rush will continue to have a good supply of Democratic red meat to feed to his fans! The problem with McCain is that his potential for success creates a problem for the right wing, in that they may need support from those they love to hate.

– Carl Caldera

The truth about the polygraph
BY SUSAN MCCARTHY
(03/02/00)

Susan McCarthy’s article reminded me of the time I “went on the box” in 1978 as screening for the “high-security” job of stock-puller in a catalog store. I passed and got the minimum-wage job; but I felt humiliated by the questions in particular and the experience as a whole. It set a bad tone for my employment and I quit two weeks later. I’m glad those tests went away (mostly) as a routine pre-employment tool.

Unfortunately, they have returned in the form of personality tests. As part of the interview process, many employers are now probing deep into our psyche to determine if we’ll be one with corporate culture, are easily led, er, managed, and so forth. As with polygraphs, there is concern as to their validity.

If personality tests are inaccurate, they do both the employer and employee a disservice. If they are accurate, they are an invasion of privacy.

– Austin W. Troxell

Lessons in consumption
BY NICK GILLESPIE
(03/06/00)

I‘ve never believed in shielding children from the big, bad world of consumerism (or, when they’re approaching their first decade, the big, bad world of sex). It’s always been about education, plain and simple.

My folks let me watch all the TV I wanted and read all the comics I could get my hands on — and while they were at it, they taught me to really pay attention to what was being said (or omitted), and how being told to buy something doesn’t mean I (or they) had to. I’m looking forward to passing on the same kind of media savvy to my kids.

– Emru Townsend

Hooked on tutoring
BY CATHERINE DAVIS
(02/29/00)

I read this week’s Mothers Who Think column, “Hooked on Tutoring,” with interest. I would like to clarify several points raised in the article about Score! and invite Catherine Davis to learn more about us:

Score! Educational Centers work with schools and teachers, not against them. In fact, many students come to Score! as a result of a school or teacher referral. Our staff collaborates with teachers, sharing student progress reports with them at a parent’s request. Schools and teachers in the communities we serve understand Score!’s role: to supplement, not replace, work that students do during the school day. By helping children to build critical basic skills, self-confidence and a love of learning, we enable them to go even farther in the classroom.

Davis points to a discrepancy between the cost advertised on our Web site, “as little as $30 a week,” and the cost she was given on the phone: $129 per month with a $100 registration fee, or $1,648 a year. Kids come to Score! twice each week for hour-long sessions. Based on our calculations, the cost comes to approximately $29 per week, below the price cited on our Web site and within reach of many families.

Score! is committed to providing its services to as many children as possible. One of our most successful locations is in Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, one of the nation’s most economically depressed neighborhoods. We offer our services at a slightly lower rate to families in the community, and the center is operating at full capacity. In addition, our newly launched site eScore.com brings free and low-cost educational resources to parents and kids worldwide.

Score! is not a chain of franchises. All centers are wholly owned by Score! Learning Inc., enabling us to guarantee uniformly high quality services at more than 100 locations nationwide.

Score! applauds teachers for the good work they do every day to educate the nation’s children. We offer them our unequivocal support in this mission.

– Robert Waldron

chief executive officer, Score! Learning Inc.

Teachers themselves have collectively done a bang-up job at undermining their own authority and expertise. Davis has conveniently forgotten that most of those parents electing to have their children tutored were themselves once students of public schools. If they do not wish to abandon their offsprings’ education to the tender mercies of that system, one can hardly blame them, since they do know whereof they speak.

Indeed, the entire article was a delicately veiled attack on the judgment of parents. What Davis really wants to do, evidently, is flame those no-good parents who won’t let teachers play god with their children. But since most people won’t sit still to be told how invalid their experiences are, Davis instead portrays parents as dupes of tutoring services. Parents, she argues, are well-meaning fools taken in by the evils of corporate tutoring.

Perhaps that is true. Perhaps tutoring services are nothing more than leeches attached to parents’ pocketbooks. Perhaps parents who recourse to supplemental instruction are the dupes of tutoring services. At least that’s better than being the dupe of an arrogant, incompetent, corrupt school system.

– Vanessa Layne

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