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    Letters to the Editors

    Could there be two Bill Maxwells?

    © St. Petersburg Times
    published January 27, 2002

    Re: Serving ourselves in the name of King, by Bill Maxwell, Jan. 20.

    I have come to the conclusion that there are two Bill Maxwells: There is the one who wrote this column about the intent of Martin Luther King Jr. in his approach to racial diversity, and there is the polar opposite who subscribes to the theory that Palestine can do no wrong and appears to have the right to kill Israelis in the name of fairness.

    I would hope that they might have the opportunity to meet one another soon and have the former influence the mind of the latter -- and perhaps return to Israel and try to teach the Martin Luther King message to present-day Palestinian leaders.

    I believe that if he were to be successful, the problems faced in that region would diminish and people could venture out and live a life free of the attacks we witness today.

    Good Luck Mr. Maxwell No. 1. Mr. Maxwell No. 2, please listen up!
    -- Ronald Rosenwald, Homosassa

    King on Zionism

    Re: Serving ourselves in the name of King, Jan. 20.

    Considering Bill Maxwell's obvious respect and reverence for Martin Luther King Jr., it might be well for him to be reminded of what the reverend had to say about anti-Zionism.

    "What is anti-Zionism? It is the denial to the Jewish people of a fundamental right that we justly claim for the people of Africa and all other nations of the globe. It is discrimination against Jews because they are Jews. In short, it is anti-Semitism. Let my words echo in the depth of your soul: When people criticize Zionism, they mean Jews -- make no mistake about it."
    -- Nathan L. Belkin, Clearwater

    A nonviolent approach

    As I read the recent tributes to Martin Luther King Jr., I couldn't help thinking how different the situation in the Middle East would have been had Yasser Arafat been of the same mind as the nonviolent Dr. King.

    Dr. King also had trouble reining in his violent counterparts, but he always stuck with the nonviolent approach. No wonder we honor him today and will apparently never honor Yasser Arafat for his peace promoting. I hope that, when denigrators are abusing the memory of Dr. King and his birthday, they will realize it makes no sense to sully the reputation of this man who changed history the peaceful way.
    -- Thomas Cooper Jr., St. Petersburg

    Voting his conscience?

    Re: Angry Georgia senator is a pariah among his fellow Democrats, by Philip Gailey, Jan. 20.

    Being a lifelong Republican, I read this column expecting the usual liberal bias of the St. Petersburg Times, but this time I am confused. What is the problem? Is it that Sen. Zell Miller doesn't follow the line of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle or that he votes his conscience?

    Clearly, the Daschle line has minimum traction either in the Senate or nationally, so that shouldn't be troubling.

    On the other hand, Gailey may have answered his own question by noting that the senator is 70 years old and doesn't fear re-election problems. Perhaps he is voting his conscience instead of his party. Would that there were more like that in Washington on both sides of the aisle!

    In raising the question as to why he was such a firebrand and then seems to have changed, there may be a further simple answer. Specifically, we all know that most of the 100 senators look into the mirror and see a future resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. That may have accounted for the party firebrand in earlier years. Now, however, it is pretty clear that Sen. Miller will not be a candidate. On that basis, he may be liberated from the ambition for higher office. Again, he may just be voting his conscience. Is that so bad? I think not.

    Don't worry. There are plenty of Democrats who will follow their leader no matter what!
    -- John J. Christman, Tierra Verde

    Lessons in lying

    Re: The truth is, it becomes easier to lie, Jan. 20.

    Stephen Buckley opens his essay with the question: "Is truth dead in America? If it is, what killed it"?

    "What killed it?" Is Buckley kidding?

    Is he not aware that for the eight years of the Clinton presidency, Americans, especially the impressionable youth of America, had as ethical role models in the White House serial liar Bill Clinton and his equally disingenuous spouse, Hillary?

    During the sordid Clinton era, the devious art of lying was "raised" to a previously unprecedented level of perfection. Those eight years exposed Americans to an almost daily display of finger-waving lies, "I don't recall" lies, look-them-in-the-eye lies, oral-sex-is-not-sex lies, and the redefinition of highly complex words like "is."

    And Buckley asks what killed truth in America. Give me a break.
    -- Anthony J. Wickel, Clearwater

    Undermining of truth

    Re: The truth is, it has become easy to lie.

    In addition to all the reasons Stephen Buckley gives as to why the United States has become a nation of liars, I'd like to add another. When we took prayer and the Bible from schools, educators began teaching, "There is no truth . . . Everything is relative . . . What is truth to you, may not be truth to me . . ."

    Having been a teacher, I know. How can young people grow up to be truthful adults if they're taught, there is no truth?
    -- Bobbie Lynch, Spring Hill

    A questionable approach

    Re: Business leaders are involved with education, Jan. 20.

    Al Hoffman sums up exactly what is wrong with public education in Florida: Lawmakers are trying to run our educational system as a large corporation instead of the tax-supported, public institution that it is.

    What exactly do our business leaders know about learning theory, educational psychology, curriculum development and, most important, the daily rigor of teaching abused, neglected, poverty-stricken children, many of whom do not speak English as their native language, and/or have a multitude of learning disabilities?

    Furthermore, Hoffman's statement that, the governor and his appointed Florida Board of Education "will be singularly responsible for putting together the plan for Florida's K-20 education system" is scary, indeed. Donating money and time to educational programs in order to reach out to certain individuals is noble, but revamping the entire educational system and placing its fate in the hands of hand-picked business leaders rather than educators is a dangerous game.

    In addition, Hoffman's claim that, "Gov. Bush has reported that over the last three years, the education budget for K-12 has seen an increase of 17.7 percent," fails to consider inflation, nor does it consider funding for Florida's public colleges and universities, which has greatly suffered under the "new and improved" K-20 plan.

    As a graduate music education major in Florida's public university system, I see firsthand, the problems that can arise with such tactics. If there is a budget increase, then why do I have to reduce the number of credit hours I take each semester because of reduced funding for graduate assistantships? Why are students at USF taking classes in the University Mall movie theaters where they pay a $30 surcharge and do not have desks to write on? Why am I teaching a music course, which requires playing recorded and live music, in a chemistry lab because there is no room in our current facility? Why have there been teacher hiring freezes off and on in various counties all over Florida this past year, making it virtually impossible for recent graduates to obtain teaching positions, even though there is currently a teacher shortage in Florida? Why are K-12 students taking night classes and college/university students prolonging graduation because not enough summer classes will be offered this year?

    The fact is, until Florida lawmakers and residents realize that they need to pay for public education through taxes, and stop trying to run it as "big business as usual," education in Florida will continue to suffer.
    -- Amber Turcott, Tampa

    A spreading stench

    Re: Enron.

    The unbearable stench of insider corruption, spreading across America from Washington and Houston, has to give even the most staunch conservative pause to reflect on a society in which right and wrong no longer matter, much less exist.

    The question we must all ask is: Does our pride of living in a country governed by the rule of law mean anything when those laws are designed to create gluttonous wealth for the already wealthy, while at the same time, avoiding the social responsibility necessary to sustain society?

    If change does not come we might be seeing the final chapter of American democracy.
    -- Erik H. Thoreson, St. Petersburg

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