- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 11, 2000

Responses to Army general's harassment allegations

Responses to Army general's harassment allegations

I took exception to several statements in your April 7 editorial "Kinder, gentler warriors." Statements such as "a military in shambles" are a huge slap in the face to the hard-working men and women of all armed forces who, these days, must do more and more with less and less. If the military is in shambles, it has more to do with low pay, fewer and reduced benefits, lack of equipment and spare parts, longer duty hours and frequent and long deployments (often in service to a legacy) all of which are attributable to economic and political pressures and not the presence of women in the military.

However, your conclusion that Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy had a vindictive fit is what caught my eye. I read your publication every day (and feel deprived when I don't), so I distinctly remember the Page One article that headlined the previous day's edition ("Accused general is identified," April 6). In the last paragraph, it says that the post to which the accused general was being assigned was "one that would likely require him to oversee investigations of sexual harassment." That, in fact, is the salient point here, not that she didn't want Maj. Gen. Larry G. Smith to have "a plum assignment."

If Gen. Kennedy had information that Gen. Smith was a questionable candidate for the job, she had a duty to bring that to someone's attention. Moreover, the assignment likely would not be denied to the accused general without an investigation, and an investigation won't go forward without a formal complaint hence her complaint at this time.

Most of us can spin the story for ourselves. Please keep to a higher standard.

CATHERINE DUTCHER

Woodbridge, Va.

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I have viewed the spectacle surrounding Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy's claim that she was sexually harassed in 1996 with considerable amusement. Apparently, Gen. Kennedy felt she had been sexually harassed by a male general at about the same time the Army was deep in the Aberdeen scandal and the investigation of Army Sgt. Maj. Gene C. McKinney was just under way.

Yet Gen. Kennedy, assigned to the secretary of the Army's panel to teach soldiers about sexual harassment, failed to comply with the rules that she was teaching the troops. If it was sexual harassment, as she belatedly claims, she had a duty as an Army officer and general to take decisive corrective action at the time. Instead, she waited until, apparently, she was miffed that the supposed harasser received a decent assignment before she leveled her charges. This conduct is not indicative of the kind of character expected of officers, at least before the present administration took office.

The Army and no less Maj. Gen. Larry G. Smith, the officer Gen. Kennedy reportedly accused deserved to have the allegations investigated while the evidence was still fresh and recollections still were crisp. Gen. Kennedy's conduct delayed a timely investigation of the facts that would have been fair to all. It is right that Gen. Kennedy is about to retire. Her kind of leadership and attention to duty are not the stuff of four stars. The Army's feminist poster girl needs to go home. Surely there are female officers who are less concerned with promotion and more concerned with doing what is right, and at the right time.

CHARLES W. GITTINS

Middletown, Va.

Charles Gittins is an attorney specializing in military law. He represented Army Sgt. Maj. Gene C. McKinney in his court-martial.

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The belated and damaging accusations of a female general against a fellow officer raise many disturbing questions about her motives and leadership capacity.

Surely an individual who ranks as high as a three-star general in the U.S. Army would have the internal fortitude to combat an unwanted physical advance with the definitive old-fashioned method of "slapping the fool" out of him. Common sense would dictate that such a matter be settled within the day not years later in a court. It is all highly suspicious.

CAROLE CAMERON SHAW

Springfield

Not all children are ready for kindergarten

Thank you to The Washington Times for the April 4 article "Ready for kindergarten?" (Family Times). As the registrar at a Christian school in Maryland, I am faced with this question on a daily basis. Our school has a birthday cutoff date of Sept. 1, which is earlier than that of Maryland public schools. Maryland is one of only a few states left with such a late cutoff date. Some parents are very agreeable, but many parents find it emotionally difficult to decide whether a child is ready for kindergarten.

Those of us raised in the late '60s and early '70s remember the stigma attached to those who were "held back." That is no longer true. Several books and numerous articles have attested to the fact that students who are older when they begin school are more confident and successful.

The information is not being shared with parents that it is OK to give their child what we call "a gift of an extra year." Kindergarten is mandatory, but it is easy to waive kindergarten for a year. All parents have to do is call their local school board and request a waiver form.

I am a parent of a girl with a Sept. 23 birthday. Her older siblings have January and February birthdays, and the difference when it was time for them to start school was quite evident. Starting my daughter with the September birthday a year earlier would have been disastrous for my child. I never regretted providing her with the extra time, nor have I ever had a parent regret this decision. I have, however, had many parents who have had to make that decision later in their child's academic life, and it is difficult. Your article was correct when it said the best time to "hold a child back" is in the preschool years. The article also was right in pointing out that this is not an academic issue. It is an issue of maturity.

The research is in, and it all points strongly to children reaching the age of 5 before beginning a long academic career. It is time for Maryland and the District to rethink their birthday cutoffs and follow Virginia's lead in setting an earlier date.

GLORIA HENNING

Upper Marlboro

Diagnosis is that medical student group favors socialized medicine

Dr. David Grande, president of the American Medical Students Association (AMSA), took issue with my Heritage Foundation colleague James Frogue's characterization of his organization's support for socialized medicine ("Medical student group not supporting socialized medicine," Letters, April 4). Dr. Grande insists that his group does "not support socialized medicine." Dr. Grande may wish to consult his own Web site, where it clearly states that AMSA "supports single payer health insurance with one method of billing."

One of Mr. Frogue's points was that based upon answers to direct inquiry, many of the future doctors of America were rallying for a financial arrangement they dimly comprehended. It was not apparent to Mr. Frogue, or any other candid observer, that they were rallying for, say, a gigantic private monopoly. The safe assumption, based on other items from the AMSA Web site, is that the "single payer" envisioned is, indeed, the government: the public ownership of health insurance and monopoly purchase, and thus control, of the supply of medical services. If so, Dr. Grande and AMSA explicitly support "socialized" medicine. Perhaps the quaint old word "socialism" grates on modern ears. It should.

Dr. Grande is correct on a crucial point. Americans can "learn" from Canada. Canada consistently ranks ahead of only Mexico, Poland and Turkey in the 29-member Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in terms of available medical technology. The quality of health care suffers. It is not surprising that U.S. hospitals on the Canadian border report a booming business with Canadians desperate to avoid their country's long lines.

If Dr. Grande can find fault with the facts or arguments marshaled by the Heritage Foundation, he should do so, but he does not elevate the quality of public debate or the reputation of his own organization by calling his intellectual opponents names. Demonizing opponents in public exchange undermines the health of democracy.

ROBERT E. MOFFIT

Director of domestic policy studies

The Heritage Foundation

Washington

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