The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on January 28, 1986 · Page 4
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 4

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Tuesday, January 28, 1986
Page 4
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Opinion The Salina Journal Tuesday. January 28,1986 Page 4 npl zteMnfo T 1 1 he Journal Founded in 1871 HARRIS RAYL, Editor and Publisher KAY BERENSON, Executive Editor SCOTT SEIRER, News Editor LARRY MATHEWS, Assistant News Editor LORI BRACK, Weekend Editor JIM HAAG, JVigftt Editor MARY JO PROCHAZKA, Associate Editor Just say no If Kansas lawmakers want to set a good example for tightening one's belt to trod through lean economic years, they can start at home. In this case, that means their "home" of Topeka, where they should refuse to give in to the tempting freebies offered by lobbyists. One news account says 115 lobbyist- sponsored socials are planned for legislators during January and February — while lawmakers are in session for just 32 days. There are breakfasts, luncheons, dinners, cocktail receptions, buffets, dances. Insurance lobbyists put on galas for House and Senate insurance committees. Education lobbyists wine and dine the committees that will ponder the fate of education legislation. The goal of lobbying is clear, despite the lobbyists' usual protests that the groups aren't trying to buy votes but just to explain their concerns. If freebies were not successful at buying legislative support, lobbying groups wouldn't continue to fork out the money for dinners, cocktails and other "bribes." The desire to find out more about a special interest group's point of view also is a flimsy excuse for legislators to take the freebies. Lobbyists already have an ample, legitimate forum for their views — testifying before legislative committees about proposed legislation. Lawmakers have no financial excuse for accepting the freebies. They are paid $52 in salary and $63 for expenses daily during the 90-day session. Lobbyists obviously won't stop tempting. It's up to legislators to demonstrate that their votes can't be bought by refusing to accept freebies. A few good women What happened at Parris Island holds a moral for our times. At the Marine Corps boot camp at Parris Island, S.C., women recruits (undergoing the same training as their male counterparts) were required to qualify at the rifle range. The women matched and even exceeded the men in marksmanship. A Pentagon Marine spokesman reports that 97.8 percent of the 372 women who completed their basic training at Parris Island since the program began have won their marksmanship qualif ication. During the same period, men have qualified at a rate ranging from 96.6 percent to 99.5 percent, depending on their unit and class. What's more, an 18-year-old woman, Pvt. Anita Lobo of Uvalde, Texas, blasted a new range record for recruits as she scored 246 out of a possible 250 in her qualification trials. That earned her an automatic "Expert" designation. A training officer confessed, "Everybody expected a qualification rate of about 40 percent when women started firing..." The results, however, should come as no surprise. They demonstrate what women, racial, ethnic and religious minorities and handicapped people have been saying all along: "Give us a chance and we'll prove what we can do." Letters Coyotes, Charles Darwin Executive Editor Kay Berenson has now explained The Journal's position regarding the coyote-trapping coverage. Presumably the explanation is triggered by the volume of phone calls and letter-to-the-editor responses. Journal staff photographers did their bit for survival (of photographers). Journal staff writers did their bit for survival (of reporters). Coyote trappers did their bit for survival (of trappers, and photographers and reporters). Then came the letters and phone calls from people doing their bit for survival (of freedom of expression). The editorial staff does its bit for survival (of The Journal). Since 1859 people have debated Charles Darwin's theory of "survival of the fittest (most fit)." It is of interest that The Journal covered a rattlesnake story a few months ago in about the same way it covered this coyote story. Apparently, a big difference was in the response received. Evidently the editorial staff did not receive much response to the rattlesnake story, or didn't print much of it or just didn't judge the response as worthy of an explanation. So I think we might ask ourselves whether our responses to horror stories are more emotional than thinking. The talons of an eagle are adaptations for survival. The fins of a fish are adaptations for survival. For the human the most special adaptations for survival are said to be the revolving thumb and the extra large cranium housing the extra large brain. It is yet to be determined whether the brain is truly an adaptation for survival or whether, as Charles Lindbergh said it, "Humankind represents an over-specialized branch on the tree of evolution." There is documented evidence relative to the capacity of the coyote to adapt to "civilization." This observer is led to believe that coyotes not only will be survivors, but may very well remain as a surviving species beyond the time of human trappers, photographers, reporters, editors and those who write letters to the editor, i.e. after it is too late for Homo sapiens to admit that they were notthe "wise ones." — GEORGE F. TOLAND 908 Highland Craziness downtown Several years ago a foolish proposal was made to block off Santa Fe from Ash to Walnut and build a roof over the street. This proposal was so laughed at it was soon abandoned. I thought that had to be the living end in Disintegrating families are an American crisis WASHINGTON — Over the last 25 years, it is hard to think of two public figures who have more consistently and constructively addressed the major concerns of this nation than Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Bill D. Moyers. That both of them now have chosen to focus on the breakdown of the family, especially the black family, strongly suggests that the rest of us should pay attention. Moyers' documentary on CBS Saturday night brought to life the painful reality of which Moynihan, the senator from New York, wrote in his newly published book, "Family and Nation." That reality is that a growing portion of America's young people — a large majority of blacks and more than one-third of the whites — will spend a substantial portion of their first 18 years in a "family" with no man as its head. Many of them will have started life as children born out of wedlock, often as children of females still in their teens. They are part of a "culture of poverty" that mocks the economic gains the rest of us are enjoying. Alice Sondra Jackson, one of Moyers' subjects, was 20 when the first of her three children was born. She had graduated from high school, taken a year at a business school and was working steadily when she got pregnant. "I wanted to be a mother, you know," she said. "It was exciting to me. I just thought I'd have something of my own, a little child that's gonna call me Mama ...." Two more pregnancies followed in the next three years. Alice now lives on welfare, though she says, "It makes you lazy just to sit around and wait for a monthly check to come in." The father of her children is Timothy McSeed, who has three other living children by as many other women — none of whom he supports. Born to a 16-year-old unmarried woman, Timothy is a high-school dropout who has not worked in almost three years. He David Broder WASHINGTON POST will marry, he says, when he can afford "a big wedding'' with all the trimmings. Stories like this are what made Eleanor Holmes Norton, a distinguished black scholar, lawyer and public official, say: "Repair of the black family is central to any serious strategy to improve the black condition." But not just the black family. As Moynihan writes, "By the mid-1980s, it was clear that family disorganization had become a general feature of the American population and not just an aspect of a frequently stigmatized and appropriately sensitive minority community." In 1965, Moynihan described an "approaching new crisis in race relations" because one-fifth of the non-white families had a female head of household. Today, he notes, "single-parent families with children accounted for more than one-quarter of all family groups — white, black, Hispanic, et al ... What was a crisis condition for the one group in 1960 is now the general condition.'' What lies ahead for the growing number of one-parent children is indicated by a 1980 Kettering Foundation study cited by Moynihan. They are poor students; 40 percent are rated low achievers. They are sick more often, absent more often, more likely to be truant, and twice as likely to drop out short of graduation. At which point, they are far more likely to be unemployed — and perhaps unemployable. And procreating another generation like themselves. So what is to be done? Everyone acknowledges that to the extent the problem is most severe in the black community, as it is, it challenges the total leadership of that community — its stable families, its churches and its growing middle-class. But the larger society cannot turn its back on the problem, for it is our problem, too. Moynihan, perhaps over-optimistically, suggests that both conservatives and liberals may be able to see the need for something he has long championed, a "family policy." Such a policy would consciously shape every area of government — taxes, Social Security, welfare, housing, anti-crime and anti-drug measures — to strengthen incentives and supports for two-parent families. It remains to be seen whether that concern will inform decision-making in this age of budget-cutting. But even if an immediate response is unlikely, the challenge must be posed, as Moyers and Moynihan posed it this month. Carolyn Wallace, who with her husband runs a community center in the heart of the Newark ghetto, closed Moyers' program by assuring him that preaching greater personal and social responsibility was not in vain. "They won't listen to me," Moyers said. "It doesn't make any difference," she replied. "You've got to say it anyway. They may not listen to me, either. But... if you say it in your corner and I say it in my corner, and everybody's saying it, it's going to be like a drumbeat, and sooner or later it will sound... I think it's going to surpass color. And you're not going to be safe, I'm not going to be safe, and nobody's going to be safe unless we all send out this drumbeat — hey, let's deal with it. Let's deal with the problem." ideas to improve downtown Salina. Now someone comes up with the idea of making downtown alleys off limits to cars and trucks. This is an all-time, ignorant proposal by the downtown committee. They seem to be grasping at straws to convince the public they have something going. Alleys were not built for arcades but for delivery of goods to the back doors and for trucks to pick up waste material. Robert Bostater, vice chairman of the Business Improvement District advisory board, said the success of the downtown facelift will depend on attracting shoppers. Forcing pedestrians to duel for alley space with delivery trucks and other vehicles, he said, would defeat the goal. I ask him, what goal? I wonder how many times he's had to fight vehicular traffic to cross an alley. I wonder if he has ever driven a truck in an alley. I drove one for 24 years with no problems with other trucks, cars or pedestrians. I really can't understand the downtown committee's obsession with spending several million dollars to beautify the alleys. Couldn't the money be better spent to entice businesses to enter the many empty buildings on Santa Fe? With alleys closed to trucks, we'll have Santa Fe double-parked with delivery trucks and sanitation trucks. Maybe some good- hearted, public-minded citizens will pitch in and help the truckers and trash haulers load and unload their trucks and help avoid traffic congestion on Santa Fe. - GEORGE KATHARY 205 N. 13th Story was disturbing I, too, was very disturbed with the half- page, retouched picture of the trapped, defenseless coyote in your Jan. 12 issue. Granted, coyotes cause some problems with domestic livestock, and the population may need some control, but it was most inappropriate to enlarge the picture and show its inhumane qualities. These wild animals were created and put on this earth for a purpose, not to be tortured for entertainment and publicity. A short time ago our beautiful Irish Setter was caught in a coyote trap on our farm and we could not locate his cries for help for several hours. Late on that bitterly cold night, we found him dragging a post to which the trap had been secured. One front paw was snarled in the vice-like trap with teeth. If some animals have to be destroyed, let's not make a public spectacle of it. — RUTH PERRY '' Scandia The time is right to put families back together BOSTON — The poster on the wall of the Urban League office in Detroit carries a direct message from one black generation to another: "Don't Make A Baby If You Can't Be a Father." A black machinist interviewed by a Washington Post reporter says forthrightly and for publication: "We're not living up to our ideals." "We" are blacks. A black community worker talks into the television camera and into millions of homes about the breakup of black families: "If the parent is 17 and 18, uneducated and unmotivated, fooling around, wanderin' around — what's the child going to learn? .... See, I'm not even talking about racism, maybe later on we'll get back to that. But I think we're destroying ourselves." The old conspiracy of silence that kept blacks from criticizing their own in public has been broken. At first tentatively, and now openly, they have begun to ah- their troubles, especially family troubles. Even in front of white folk. A flurry of stories — updates, series, focus pieces on black Americans — accompanied the Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations in the past two weeks. The most devastating of them was Saturday night's "CBS Reports" on "The Vanishing Family." They were, for the most part, filled with black voices, expressing an honesty and outspokenness that was a long, long time in coming. Two decades ago, an assistant secretary of labor named Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote a report on the Negro family, warning that: "The evidence, not final, but powerfully persuasive, is that the Negro family in the urban ghettos is crumbling." The report was at- Ellen Goodman WASHINGTON POST tacked by civil-rights leaders who feared that such talk would allow whites to blame blacks for black problems. Even Martin Luther King Jr. said, "It wasn't the right time." The' entire subject became taboo, and the family kept crumbling. Today, the willingness of blacks to speak among themselves and with whites is both a measure of trust and despair, of much progress and of terrible slippage. There has been enough progress that blacks don't fear being lumped with the "underclass." There has been enough slippage to make the situation of the poorest one-third of American blacks desperate and threatening. In 1965, when Moynihan wrote his first report, one-quarter of black births were out of wedlock. Now 58 percent are born to unmarried mothers. Nearly half of all black children under 18 live with one parent. When Moynihan, now a senator, returned to the same themes last spring, he said: "Social policy must flow from social values and not from social science." It is "values" that are being talked about by black leaders as well: The values lost to a subculture of 30-year-old grandmothers and young men who are disconnected "free- lancers." The values lost in a self- perpetuating and self-destructive life cycle of poverty. First grassroots blacks and then black clergy and academics broke the taboo. The leadership followed. In 1984, the National Urban League and the NAACP held the first "Black Family Summit Conference." Now this subject is a centerpiece for one study after another and for the mass media. A delicate centerpiece. When Bill Moyers previewed the "CBS Reports" to a press preview, he admitted the concern that it would feed racism. The relentless camera eye on young mothers with no sense of future and fathers with no sense of responsibility probably did reinforce ugly stereotypes for those who hold them. For that matter many were probably eager to quote the words of the black minister in the Washington Post series: "We must start by instilling new values — or, rather, old values. We must start with the young boys who think that the way to be a man is to inject semen into a woman." The troubles of the black "third world" of American urban life are not exclusively those of values, or morals. There is a relationship between racism and the economy — the enemy without — and the erosion of self- esteem and family—the enemy within. But it is a mark of security that blacks are willing to take a risk, to outline the hopelessness, violence and despair of the underclass, without retreating to defensive rhetoric. And it's also a measure of the catastrophe. Doonesbury WELCOME BACK, ZONK. lUJAHTTOTBLLHOUJ De&t-YSOPRflAM THANK YOU, CURTIS. I LOSS, MAN. DUKB UffN ALL'S 5AIP/WPPONZ, AFTER. & &M£MBfK£PA$..A$..UH.mLYOU KNOW. NO, WHAT? JteGOTTO SAYSOMETHING n THATtlT!

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