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Watts, 25 Years Post-Rebellion

August 19, 1990

Having just returned from an all-day community conference commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Watts Rebellion, I could hardly contain my outrage upon reading "Family Unit's Not Sacred If the Children Are at Risk" by William Raspberry (Commentary, Aug. 11). Raspberry reviews the proposals put forth by conservative former Assistant Secretary of Education Chester Finn in a paper entitled "Ten Tentative Truths."

Finn states, "We need to be ready to impose real material consequences on adults when they or their children deviate from behavioral norms." So, what's the "consequence" Big Brother Finn wants to impose on underclass families? He proposes that we take away their children. Permanently.

Finn, apparently, isn't proposing this remedy for dysfunctional middle- or upper-class families. He knows damn well they have the resources to fight or obtain the social services they need to get for their families. He also knows they have political power and would raise hell. Finn is proposing that we do to underclass families what we did to villages in Vietnam--we should destroy them in order to save them.

It is absurd to divorce social behavior from the effects of economic conditions and the lack of even basic social services. Finn makes much of the "accountability" of parents. What of the "accountability" of society and government to provide its people with adequate health care, affordable housing, education, and the opportunity to work and make a decent living?

LARRY SIEGEL

Hawthorne

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