- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 4, 2000

Bad grade given to cop killer at commencement address

I was shocked and appalled upon reading the article "Ohio college invites cop killer to give commencement address" (March 31). I am a father of two and a police officer in Maryland. This article struck me on two fronts. As a police officer, I could not believe that another university would have a convicted cop killer address our youth at such a pivotal time in their lives. What kind of message does that send to our youth on cop killing?

I do not pretend that our judicial system is flawless or that every police officer is a saint, but this does not mean the system never works or that all police officers are devils. We should be promoting the values and principles of the title of police officer to our young people, not the values and principles of a convicted killer. Our country and judicial system are based on the premise of innocence until proved guilty, but Mumia Abu-Jamal has been convicted and has exhausted all appeals to date. Do we want this type of person as a role model for our young people?

I would invite all of your readers to think of all the times a police officer has been there to help them or a family member or all the times they may have been made to feel a little safer by the sight of a police officer. Think of all the faces behind the badge that we see every day. Now think of Abu-Jamal holding a gun and shooting those faces. Has our society been so turned upside down that we root for the Joker and despise Batman? Have we lost sight of what makes a good role model? As a police officer, I hope my children never have to deal with my death in the line of duty, but the thought of my killer speaking at their (or their peers') graduation sickens me to no end. Is this the kind of person we want to have launch our graduates into the next step of their lives? Can we find better messages to send them on their way?

Just when I, as a father, thought my anger was at its limit, I read that the other speaker at the college will be a "transgendered activist". As I think back to my graduations and graduations in which I have been involved, I know I would have been embarrassed to say I had a convicted killer or a transgendered activist as a commencement speaker. As I think back to the true heroes or role models I have known to speak at such a ceremony, I see this as an insult to all of those quality people. I spend much of my parental life trying to shelter my children from these stories and life choices. I try to instill in them the values that will make them a productive, positive influence on our society. To think that I would send them to a so-called "institute of higher learning," where the best role model they can find is a convicted killer or a transgendered activist, is absurd.

I hope all parents share my concerns and hope for far better for their children.

GORDON D. PRACHT

Greenbelt

Columnist was gentle calling Vietnam War 'senseless'

Anthony Lutz expresses intense umbrage at Col. David Hackworth's comment that the war in Vietnam was "senseless," saying: "It is not 'senseless' to defend your own life or that of an innocent victim" ("Defending the South Vietnamese was not 'senseless,' " Letters, March 30). Certainly, that is a noble way to feel, and I wish Mr. Lutz well as he personally defends every innocent victim that comes to his attention.

However, with regard to that war, I recall various people justifying our participation by talking about the "domino effect" and implying that if South Vietnam fell to the communists, that would bring that "evil empire" closer to us. Well, we lost the war, and the evil empire is no closer to us; but about 58,000 of our military people who had sworn to defend our Constitution, not other countries lost their lives in that futile effort.

Frankly, I think Col. Hackworth was being very gentle in calling the war senseless, and all of us citizens should have a heightened awareness of the terrible consequences possible when we allow those in power to bamboozle us.

JAMES A. ROSS

Manassas

A solution to the military readiness problem

The March 28 article "Record deployments take toll on military" accurately describes many of the readiness problems plaguing our armed forces. However, it fails to mention that many of these concerns could be remedied easily without reducing overseas deployments or increasing defense budgets.

Congress and the administration should simply stop spending so much money on Cold War weapons and reallocate the funds to operations and maintenance (readiness) and personnel accounts. Over the next six years weapons-procurement funds will account for more than one-half of the Pentagon's $37 billion increase. Meanwhile, readiness funds will stay relatively constant, and family housing programs actually will lose money.

From 1995 to 1998, Congress added $27 billion to the defense budget. Only $3.5 billion went to readiness accounts; the rest went to pork. In fact, readiness funds often are used to offset expensive pork projects. Last year, Sens. Christopher S. Bond and John Ashcroft from Missouri robbed readiness accounts of $170 million to buy four unrequested F-15E fighter jets. In 1998, 81 senators opposed an amendment sponsored by Sen. John McCain that would have restored $3.1 billion cut from readiness programs by reducing unneeded pork.

Neither the administration nor Congress is willing to sacrifice unneeded but politically expedient weapons programs to fund important readiness and quality-of-life shortfalls.

DAN KOSLOFSKY

Senior analyst

Council for a Livable World

Washington

Medical student group not supporting socialized medicine

The March 24 commentary "Prescription for trouble," by James Frogue of the Heritage Foundation, attacked the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) for rallying recently on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in support of a single-payer health care system. Mr. Frogue cited long lines, rationed care and frustrated doctors as the inevitable result of such a system. He drew upon statistics, mostly from Great Britain, to demonstrate the failures of "socialized medicine." What he failed to mention, however, is that the future doctors of America including AMSA's 30,000 members do not support socialized medicine.

Tomorrow's doctors want to learn from the Canadian experience and implement a unique single-payer health care system that provides comprehensive, affordable and equitable insurance coverage for all. Canada spends approximately half per capita ($2,095) of what the United States spends ($4,090) on health care. Also, while Canada spends only 11 percent on administration, the United States diverts 24 percent of its health care dollars to profit and administration.

Mr. Frogue mentioned that among the 29 countries that belong to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Canada ranks 19th in availability of MRIs. He neglected to mention that among OECD nations, the United States ranks 20th in life expectancy for women, 22nd in life expectancy for men and 23rd in infant mortality. Does Mr. Frogue deem the number of MRI machines a better indicator of the quality of our health care system?

Mr. Frogue and the Heritage Foundation can try to muddle the issues all they want, but one thing won't change. The future doctors of America are willing to stand up for patients and fight for a fair and equitable health care system. Physicians in training have daily contact with uninsured patients. We witness firsthand the difficulties working Americans and their families face in obtaining access to care.

While not surprising, it is morally reprehensible that Mr. Frogue and the Heritage Foundation would try to undermine our attempts to establish a universal, comprehensive health care system that provides medical care based on need rather than the ability to pay.

DR. DAVID GRANDE

National president

The American Medical Student Association

Reston

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