It's hard to criticize a story with a happy ending. However, racial insensitivity crept all over the articles on the recovery of Jeremiah Thate {Oct. 30}. The Post exploited the worst fears of white parents, appealing to the same racial hysteria that greeted the trial of the Scottsboro boys and the lynching of Emmett Till.

The Post's headlines screamed that this was a racial incident: "Jeremiah 'Stuck Out Like a Sore Thumb' "; "Alert Firefighter Suspects White Infant in Black Woman's Arms Was Abducted Baby"; "Kidnapped Infant Found in Filthy Anacostia Apartment." These stories gratuitously referred to Theresa Thate's "flicking her blond hair off her shoulders," to the child's "blue eyes darting" and to the notion that there was "something odd" about two black women carrying a white baby. Why is this odd in a country where black women have been hired as "nannies" for white children for generations?

Race is irrelevant to a kidnapping. A child doesn't recognize race.

Playing up the women's "filthy" apartment was easy and cheap. But one of the numerous reporters assigned to the story should have had sufficient insight to recognize Lillie Rose Baynes and Linda Faye Stancil as human beings for whom the incident was just as tragic as it was for the Thates. Why would two women take a baby -- any baby -- and keep the baby well fed when they had no food for themselves, live in subhuman conditions in vacant apartments, be deemed unemployable and, despite their destitute status, find themselves held on $50,000 bail (reduced the next day to $25,000)? The Post offered no answers and no insight.

DAVID HONIG Berlin, Md.