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More War Years?

Posted 1/5/2005

On the few occasions on which I have heard Rep. Ben Cardin speak, I have been favorably impressed, but in this instance I must agree with Max Obuszewski that the congressman is all wet in his views on the current (and soon to be expanded) war in Iraq (The Mail, Dec. 29; Q&A, Dec. 15). One of the reasons that the Democrats lost the last national election is that their candidate was a me-too, I-support-the-war, mealy-mouthed spokesman for a continued war there, and he also floated the idea of sending an expeditionary corps to Africa.

The problem with our political system is that we now have two war parties, and the real reason is, I believe, that the leaders of both major parties know something that we don’t. That is that the U.S. economy since Dec. 7, 1941 has been on a war footing and simply can’t kick the habit. Since 1946, we have had eight shooting wars, for whatever reason, right or wrong. The current President Bush has already floated the idea of invading Syria, Iran, Cuba, and North Korea. Those of you who are my age (58) may recall the inauguration of a president from Texas 40 years ago. By the fall of 1965, there was a viable anti-war movement on every U.S. college campus, and I believe that by November of 2005 we shall witness history repeating itself in this regard.

The lost war(s) will wipe the smiles off those cocky Republican faces, and I for one am ready for the Annapolis chapter of same to get the boot now. Nationally, they have shown that they can’t govern without a war and locally that they can’t get a decent bill on anything through the state legislature. If they were CEOs in private industry, they would all have been fired over a year ago, and they know it. There’s no hope for the Democrats, however, without the loss of four more national elections, so I hope that we see the rise of more national “major” parties like we did before the (first) Civil War.

Blaine Taylor
Towson

Hope It Isn’t Copyrighted

Having just devoured the article on Morgan Rosenberg (“Stranger Than Fiction,” Dec. 22) I immediately went to his web site, found a picture of him in the shower (sadly, covering his genitalia with a towel), and created a brand-new screen saver. Thanks, Morgan!!

Richard B. Crystal
Baltimore

Taking The Other Side

Gadi Dechter’s article “Taking Sides” distorts the relationship between the Johns Hopkins Center for Social Concern and Hopkins Anti-War Coalition (Mobtown Beat, Dec. 22). Mr. Dechter paints a picture in which the Center has a political agenda and pursues that agenda at the exclusion of other opinions. This picture is false.

The Center supports student service activities and the groups that perform them. Ideology is not a criterion in determining which groups qualify for the Center’s support. If some of our service groups wish, outside of their service activities, to take part in a coalition against the Iraq war, or in support of the Iraq war, it is their prerogative to do so. We will not censor our groups’ politics, whatever they are.

The Center for Social Concern requires its funded student groups to be active in service activities, but aside from guidelines of ethical behavior, helping others, and accountability, we allow them a degree of autonomy. To work otherwise would make us de facto censors and impinge on student freedom of speech. Still, Mr. Dechter criticizes our “open-mindedness” approach as contributing to “a left-of-center” agenda. This equates open-mindedness with Leftist politics, which suggests that only liberals are open-minded. I disagree.

Regarding political freedom and professional behavior, university employees are free to be politically active outside of their professional duties. But to imply that the Center for Social Concern staff has no sense where personal politics end and professional responsibilities begin is unfounded and irresponsible.

This irresponsible article completely ignored our student groups’ good deeds, such as tutoring children, providing aid to the homeless, and many other actions of inspiring enthusiasm in service to the people of Baltimore. These students’ actions rise above ideology. They are the real story.

Matthew P. D’Agostino
Assistant Director
Johns Hopkins University Center for Social Concern
Baltimore

The Carrollton Record, a conservative undergraduate newspaper at Johns Hopkins University, takes pride in penning Ann Coulter-style provocations, so when it tried to stir up a controversy by denouncing a mild-mannered staff member at a university social service agency for supporting an anti-war concert, it was cause for amusement. But when Gadi Dechter lends his pen to this ludicrous campaign, it is cause for concern. The university provides a regular forum for pro-war speakers. Is it too difficult for Mr. Dechter to abide by the fact that a pair of folk singers, a veteran of the Iraq War, and a woman who lost her son in the war might also be allowed to use university facilities to question the war? The aim of the Record’s editors was clearly to intimidate university employees, by presenting support for an anti-war event as some kind of malfeasance and grounds for prosecution. What was Mr. Dechter’s aim in joining this odious effort?

Furthermore, the way in which Mr. Dechter obtained his information was dubious at best. When he called me personally on Dec 16, he did not inform me before he began questioning me that he was writing an article for publication, nor did he ask my permission to cite me, on top of misrepresenting my statements. This type of “journalism” would be considered unethical by even the most modest standards.

Amy Holmes
Baltimore

The Hopkins Center for Social Concern ought to be commended for providing the logistical support for the “Voices of Dissent” event. It is unfortunate that the reactionary forces of the campus Democrats who admit that their party supports this war in partnership with the neo-con Republicans who brought it to us are trying to stifle the dissent that is so crucial for a real democracy.

All people of good conscience should be permitted to express themselves on issues that affect themselves and the rest of society. We should applaud a very conservative university when it permits free expression on its campus. Those who support the war have their own ways of expressing it. Their very tuition goes to JHU’s own support for the war effort through their enormous financial ties to the war industries. For once, JHU showed a modicum of balance.

Myles Hoenig
Co-chair Charm City Green Party
Baltimore

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