- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 29, 2000

Anti-FAIR column distorts group's image, goals

Ben Wattenberg's attack on the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) was unfair ("FAIR unfair to Abraham," Commentary, April 20).

His column was a crazy quilt of selective quotes, distortions and fabrications about FAIR's efforts over a large part of its 20 years of activism. His effort was to tar us with ulterior motives in questioning Sen. Spencer Abraham's support for a huge increase in foreign workers allowed to take American high-tech jobs.

The reasons for our media campaign to bring this issue to the attention of Michigan voters has been clearly stated by us from the start and is fully known by Mr. Wattenberg. We firmly believe that there is no credible, demonstrated need for additional hundreds of thousands of foreign high-tech workers. There is ample proof of fraud in the H-1B visa program and abundant evidence that the program allows employers to discriminate against American applicants and hire foreign workers who work for lower compensation.

It is not in America's interest to depress wages and working conditions in the high-tech area, because these are among the best jobs in the country for our youth. As long as employers can get the cheaper foreign workers they want, minorities and older workers will be especially disadvantaged.

Mr. Wattenberg clearly has taken this opportunity to attack FAIR because he is in league philosophically with Mr. Abraham and the business interests that are pushing this increase in H-1B visa legislation.

Instead of attacking FAIR, Mr. Wattenberg should use his column to try to explain why he thinks American businesses should be able to discriminate in favor of foreign job applicants or why the free enterprise system of offering higher salaries is not the appropriate way to attract American youth into these jobs.

DAN STEIN

Executive director

Federation for American Immigration Reform

Washington

Flagging down another burning issue related to the Elian case

I agree with your editorial's general assessment of the positive contributions Cuban Americans have given to the United States ("Flag burning in Little Havana," April 27).

Cuban Americans helped turn Miami into an economic center with hemispheric reach and, among other things, fought for the American ideal of freedom during the Cold War. Many died defending democratic principles that President Clinton has been trampling for so long. Does that give a minuscule number of them the right to burn the flag?

The Supreme Court has recognized flag burning as a protected form of symbolic speech under the First Amendment. I do not like it and I would never do it. But if draft dodgers, civil-rights marchers and other "mainstream" Americans are protected by the police while exercising their civil liberties, why not the Cuban Americans, particularly when their angry reaction is directed at the betrayal of all that the flag represents?

They were repulsed by the denial of liberty and the pursuit of happiness to a traumatized 6-year-old whose mother lost her life seeking a better life.

This is not a Cuban but an ongoing American tragedy.

FRANCISCO WONG-DIAZ

Greenbrae, Calif.

Francisco Wong-Diaz is a professor of political science at City College of San Francisco.

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Regarding the editorial about flag burning in Little Havana, all I can say is that every segment of society has a small percentage of idiots. Unfortunately, these are the ones who attract TV cameras.

As a Cuban American, I can assure you few ethnic groups are as fervently patriotic or as flag-waving American as the Cuban-American community. This is something that we Cuban Americans are used to being ridiculed for by the "America is always wrong" crowd. It largely explains why the liberals hate us so.

In the early 1980s, I returned to the United States after a one-year overseas tour of duty with the Navy. The joy of watching American television again was ruined by the news of the 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Beirut and the deaths of 241 Marines and sailors.

I still remember one network news segment where some families of the dead Marines were interviewed and asked for their reaction. A lot of bitterness was expressed. Why were they sent to Beirut? What good did it do?

One family, however, just held a portrait of their Marine son posing in his uniform with the U.S. flag behind him and said, "Our son died serving his country."

That family was Cuban American.

CMDR. FERNANDO E. LAMAS

U.S. Naval Reserves (Retired)

Port Townsend, Wash.

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I thank you and applaud you for the editorial "Flag burning in Little Havana."

I am the daughter of Cuban Americans who came to this country in 1960. My parents always told me this was my country, that this is where I was born and that my country has afforded me many freedoms. My parents have worked hard since they arrived in this country. They pay their taxes and raised me and my sister to think for ourselves and to use the freedoms that we are afforded (freedom of speech, the right to vote, etc.) to change things that we do not like.

I agree that the flag burners in Little Havana were a few people who did not speak for the rest of the Cuban-American community, who were outraged but peaceful.

I am disappointed with the decisions of the Clinton administration and the manner in which it has handled this situation. To instill change, I am using the tools that my parents and my country have afforded me: I am telling elected representatives how I feel (and anybody else who will listen).

I am glad to see that The Washington Times has the integrity to stand firm under the pressures of this administration. Thank you for your honesty and integrity.

GABRIELA BEECHER

Chicago

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My father fought for what the U.S. flag represents in three wars. He served the Stars and Stripes in Asia and Europe back in the 1950s, when it stood for liberty for all. My heart has been broken day after day for seven years while I watched the Clinton administration desecrate this flag and the Constitution.

I gag when I hear the words "rule of law" coming out of the mouths of officials in this administration. The administration doesn't govern America by law but by a trumped-up rule of sheer brute force.

I treasure what our flag once stood for, and I still salute it with tears. But President Clinton sided with flag burners during the Vietnam War. He and Attorney General Janet Reno dishonored the flag by using brute force to terrorize an innocent 6-year-old.

And you worry about a handful of Cuban Americans who burn a flag one time in the heat of justified anger?

FRANCES KELLY

Huntsville, Ala.

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It was an American act to burn Old Glory as a sign of protest against a government that is corrupt, resorts to smashing into a family's home and confronts them at gunpoint to get its way rather than let the courts decide.

I think all liberty-loving Americans ought to burn the flag in protest over this issue and the way the Clinton-loving news media look the other way at the corruption that anyone paying attention should be able to see.

JOE PEIN

Scottsdale, Ariz.

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Cuban Americans are intimately aware of Cuba's harsh reality. They are ethically opposed to returning any individual to an island prison from which they are not free to leave. This explains Little Havana's vehement opposition to sending Elian Gonzalez back to Cuba.

Cuban Americans' protest of the raid on the Gonzalez family's home was an American reflex. The flag burning, on the other hand, was inexcusable. But Cuban Americans are overwhelmingly hard-working, law-abiding people. They inject the country with freedom-loving vigor. America must continue to open her door to them.

EDENIO L. GONZALEZ

North Miami Beach, Fla.

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Burning the flag suggests these Cuban Americans hate the United States. If they hate this nation, they should leave. If they don't hate America, they should be more specific in their protests and burn effigies of the objects of hatred, such as President Clinton or Fidel Castro or whatever it is they hate.

SEAN SCHULTZ

Brandywine

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Your April 27 editorial says, "America shouldn't let the actions of a bad few define its attitude towards Cuban Americans in general." Why isn't that same thought applied toward black Americans, most of whom are not on welfare or criminals?

EDWIN BROWN

Gaithersburg

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