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Letters to the editor

April 20, 2004

George Bush's double standard


To the editor:

The AP article titled "Release of terrorism memo doesn't end debate" (April 12) contains at least one perplexing statement from President Bush.

Commenting on the contents of a pre 9/11 intelligence memo, Bush claimed the document "has nothing about an attack on America. It talked about intentions, about someone who hated America - well, we knew that," he said.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Saddam Hussein's alleged "intention" to build and deploy weapons of mass destruction the centerpiece of this administration's case for war with Iraq?

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So, for the Bush administration, intention is not sufficient cause for a heightened "defensive" security alert. Intention is, however, a compelling rationale for an unprovoked "offensive" strike against a sovereign nation, with little or no support from our traditional allies or the United Nations.

Defense generally involves less risk and cost than does offense. Was the administration being penny-wise and pound-foolish, is this a classic flip-flop, or has the war in Iraq really been about regime change and oil all along?

David Fitzwater
Smithsburg




An Italian insult


To the editor:

Regarding "Spielberg receives Italy's highest award," printed April 15, I find it hard to reconcile the famous and talented filmmaker who preserved the Holocaust experience onto film with the insensitive Spielberg who refuses to edit his upcoming film, "Shark's Tale," so it does not offend Italian-Americans throughout America.

Anti-discrimination groups, Italian-American as well as others, have appealed to the film giant to dispense with assigning the movie's cartoon fish characters Italian-sounding surnames. So far these appeals have fallen on deaf ears.

Spielberg can win Italy's highest award but he cannot admit the damage his shark movie can do to further the bias hurled at Italian Americans. He insists on riding the "Put-down-Italians" bandwagon because it is financially the thing to do.

Doesn't it matter, Mr. Spielberg, that mafia-tizing your fish characters feeds into a discriminating trend in the media today? Why must this false gangster image be projected over and over again? If you can be sensitive about the plight of the Jews, as all of us must, then how about a little sensitivity for Italian Americans, millions of whom have patronized your films down through the years?

Sal Amico M. Buttaci
Lodi, N.J.




Library an asset


To the editor:

April 19 marks the beginning of National Library Week. Its focus is to honor the public library, an American Institution that is unique. Our county possesses one of the most historic public libraries in our country, the Washington County Free Library. Our library was the first chartered county library system in the United States and the recognized home of the first book wagon.

In its role as our community's information arm, our children's first doorway to reading and the love of learning, the many different types of library materials available for checkout, and for all the other programs and services it provides, our library is one of the most valuable assets belonging to Washington County.

More than 62 percent of Washington County citizens have library cards. Last year we checked out close to 1 million library materials. That is 6.9 materials for every man, woman, and child in Washington County. With the average cost of a book now exceeding $25, our citizens received over $22 million worth of value for the price of simply signing up for a card.

In Maryland, Washington County ranks 12th out of 24 in circulation. Not bad for a county library that, out of 24 public library systems in Maryland, comes in dead last in per-capita funding support. Our knowledgeable, friendly, and courteous reference staff answered close to 120,000 reference and research questions last year. That is enough to fill every seat in Camden Yards, not once, but three times!

Our Washington County Free Library brings reading, books, and children together at one of the hundreds of children's programs held at every branch. We introduce parents to the importance of reading to small children and we work with our Partners in Literacy to help adult learners learn to read for the first time.

Our customers, the children, families, business and government communities enjoy the ability to check out the latest bestseller, explore the Internet, access a wealth of electronic information, participate in stimulating and informative programs, find the answer to that homework question, and take their first joyous journey into the wonderful world of reading. At the core of dedicated service to our county is a helpful, friendly and well-trained staff.

Through our public library, our citizens enjoy their fundamental right under the Constitution, the right to free access to information and the right to read. The library is much more than a collection of books. The library connects our citizens to the world of information, knowledge and ideas.

Mary Baykan
Director
Washington County Free Library
Hagerstown

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