Snake Oil Solutions

Letters published November 22, 2006

Creams and quack pills don't cure autism: The mercury myth ["Raising Joshua," November 15] is nuts. Mercury is not synonymous with mercury compounds. Thimerosal hasn't been used in childhood vaccines since 2001, and the autism rate has not gone down. The symptoms of mercury poisoning are nothing like autism.

The autism-cure industry is a cruel joke. These kids need acceptance and accommodation, not smelly creams and quack pills. Autistic kids, like my 11-year-old son, will make gains regardless of what you rub on their skin. But parents eager for a cure will attribute the improvement to whatever treatment they are using.

Ken Reibel

To Have and Have Not
Shared values transcend race:
I grew up with six brothers and sisters in East Cleveland. In the summer of 1987, we came home one evening after attending a religious event to see two thugs running out of our home. Shortly after that, my father moved us to a beautiful ranch in the Upper Valley area of Euclid.

Many of our neighbors welcomed and embraced our family. We receives apple pies from our white neighbors. My brother worked hard in the neighborhood as the paperboy. He was well respected and well tipped. White neighbors regularly stopped by to express their appreciation of my brother and my hardworking family.

We took care of our lawn and our home, inspiring our white neighbors to step it up a level. We were invited regularly to the homes of our white neighbors. We were asked to be members of several of the neighborhood clubs.

We only had a few incidents. One morning we found a bullet on the floor in the den. Someone had shot a bullet through our house, piercing four walls.

I think that the people who shot the bullet into our home were ignorant. I think that the East Cleveland thugs who broke into our home were ignorant. I think that when a person -- black or white -- has more ignorance than ambition and creativity, problems will happen.

What's happening in Euclid ["New Black City," November 8] is the same thing that happened to other cities like Cleveland and East Cleveland. East Cleveland was once a very beautiful city -- the place to be. Now it is largely dilapidated. The same thing very well may happen to Euclid.

As families with lower incomes and lower levels of ambition move out of Cleveland to East Cleveland, heads of households with higher ambitions move their families to Euclid. The Cleveland kids start beating up the weaker East Cleveland kids. The parents of the East Cleveland kids don't want their kids to get beaten up daily or robbed. They then move to "safer" cities like Euclid to try to give their kids a better life. The kids who move are frustrated. Even though they were punks in East Cleveland, they don't want to move to "white" Euclid.

So they start going to Euclid schools and taking out their frustration on everyone in their path. Though they were once honor-roll students, they become ignorant failures. Even though they were not troublemakers at Shaw High School, because they are feared and respected and given power over the weaker kids in Euclid, they start wielding their sword.

They could have been completely reclusive in East Cleveland schools, but now Euclid paves the way for them to be gangsters and playas. They have a flock of white girls that want to hook up with them because of their perceived gangster persona, and a flock of white boys who become their henchmen. They now have a level of power and authority that they never had, and revel in it.

The black boys on the corner, selling drugs in Euclid on East 185th, are not "real" drug dealers; they're "works" -- an imitation of the real thugs who oppressed them in their previous neighborhoods. Though still dangerous, the situation is not as critical as it is perceived.

So I don't think the problem is black or white. I think it's frustration and ignorance vs. creativity and ambition -- and these come in all colors.

Leland Pursley

Dollars and sense: As an American of African descent who's lived in Euclid for several years, in both a single-family home and apartments, I must respond to your recent article.

For openers, I have to toss in my vote with the guy who said it's about "disposable income." Indeed, for some decades now, the greatest difference among people in this country has not been race, but class. This assumes special significance for Euclid when one notes that, due to various well-intentioned but obviously ill-thought-out social programs intended to achieve a "complete cross section" of society, a substantial number of those nonwhites moving into Euclid have not been of the middle class, possessing the resources and values attending that sociocultural level, but rather a gang of "lowlifes," straight from the ghetto, replete with a number of undesirable habits and ways.

I remember shopping at Euclid Square Mall in its heyday. I also recall the chilling effect of encountering gangs of young thugs with their baggy pants down under their behinds, caps on sideways, acting rowdy and vulgar, and daring anyone to do something about it.

If one were a conspiracy theorist, one might be inclined to declare all integration efforts in Euclid a subtle and devious means of actually sabotaging the process by bringing into Euclid large numbers of those blacks who are the incarnation of racists' hatred and fear, thus making it seem less like bigotry and xenophobia than just plain common sense.

Bob Horn

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