- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 23, 2000

Boos for scouts low point of Democratic convention

It is difficult for me to select what was the defining moment, as they say, for the Democrat convention. Certainly among the contenders would be President Clinton's audaciously narcissistic entry into the arena and the release of the entire second night to tired and increasingly tiresome icons of failed liberalism such as Jesse Jackson and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. And then there was Al Gore's speech, in which he promised the delegates that his administration would (no kidding) find the cure for diabetes and HIV.

Yet even with these golden moments, the one that I think best sums up what it means to be a modern Democrat was when a group of Eagle Scouts was boorishly booed by the California delegates of Mr. Gore's next frontier ("Democratic delegates boo the Boy Scouts of America," Aug. 18). The reason: last month's Supreme Court decision that protected the Scouts from being forced to promote homosexuals into leadership positions.

One delegate defended the booing of the Eagle Scouts on the grounds that their very presence was insensitive. He argued that the Boy Scouts have been so blatantly discriminatory, it was a thoughtless thing to let the youngsters appear. Once again, the absurd spectacle of intolerant behavior in the name of tolerance is shockingly obvious to all but the willfully dumb. Make no mistake; this moment alone should convince any objective observer the party of Harry Truman is certainly no more.

DENNY HARTFORD

Omaha, Neb.

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It is saddening that representatives of one of America's two major political parties found it necessary to boo kids during the opening ceremonies of the Democratic National Convention.

These young Eagle Scouts came proudly to the stage at the invitation of convention organizers. They were booed before the American people not for anything they said or did, but because delegates disagreed with the position that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has taken on homosexuals in positions of leadership. California delegates were at the forefront, hurling their invective at these models for America's youth.

To add further insult, rather than admonishing those delegates for embarrassing themselves and their party, the Democratic National Committee's spokesman used the incident as an opportunity to reaffirm his party's support for gay and lesbian rights. Has our political process devolved to the point that we now must embarrass our kids in order to push our political agendas? How much longer will the antics of America's fringe be allowed to overshadow the innate decency of the majority of Americans?

STEPHEN F. MINGER

Fort Washington

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Booing the Boy Scouts of America for standing up for its core values is shameful.

Yes, I am a former Boy Scout. I was a member from age 8 to 18, and I continued to work at my local council's summer camp until age 21. Both my brothers are Eagle Scouts and worked at summer camp for several years each. I am now a warrant officer and helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army. My father has volunteered his time, efforts and leadership for more than 20 years as an adult leader, and he continues to be actively involved, despite the fact that his three boys are no longer active.

In this age where it is cool, hip and perhaps even politically correct to be homosexual or a gay-rights activist, the BSA is constantly taking a beating in the press and at the hands of protesters. All the while, it continues to help boys become better men.

The Boy Scouts have served as a great influence in the lives of millions of boys during their young formative years, helping to produce this country's heroes and leaders at the local, state and national level for 90 years. By heroes, I don't mean those of the MTV generation (rock stars, models and actors), I mean policemen, firemen, officers and noncommissioned officers in the nation's military, teachers, astronauts, U.S. presidents and elected officials at all levels.

The BSA continues to have its rights validated by the U.S. Supreme Court and in public opinion. The BSA is a private organization, and as such can set the code of conduct and standards for its membership. Leave it alone. If you don't like the Boy Scouts and what they stand for, you should start your own organization. The world would be a better place if more men were Boy Scouts in their youth.

ANDY MILLER

Waipahu, Hawaii

Buchanan candidacy spotlights neglected issues

It seems to me that William Murchison's column "Placing faith in political princes" (Aug. 19), which mocks and demeans Pat Buchanan's candidacy on the Reform Party ticket, misses the whole point.

Political parties are one of the vehicles through which candidates express ideas and concerns to the citizenry. The others, the media, are unreliable. Mr. Buchanan is employing the Reform Party to bring people's attention to very important problems that the two major parties and the media have completely ignored.

Does Mr. Murchison want us to continue running a $30 billion trade deficit each month which our grandchildren will have to pay? Would Mr. Murchison like our grandchildren to be sent off to war in some Godforsaken jungle or desert for the mythical world order? Or maybe we won't have any grandchildren we are aborting over 1 million fetuses yearly.

Mr. Buchanan is not afraid to tackle these heavy matters, but his fellow journalists' flippant article makes light of these efforts. It would be nice if Mr. Buchanan got into the debates just to see how unpopular his ideas really are.

JOHN S. PULIZZI

Alexandria

Chinese growth is threat, not step towards democracy

James A. Dorn makes two dubious claims in his Aug. 18 Commentary article, "China's Next Step."

First, he argues that China will have to allow greater freedom of expression and tolerate differences of opinion if it wants to be on the leading edge of the global economy. Next, he contends that, as China becomes more open to the outside world and more liberal, the chances for peaceful interaction will increase and conflicts diminish. These have more to do with airy 19th-century liberal theory than with how the world actually works.

As long as Beijing has aims at odds with American interests, any increase in Chinese resources will be to our detriment. Hitler's Germany had private business ownership, which made it the strongest economy in Europe, but its wealth was used for aggression. And as brutal as its dictatorship was, the Nazi regime still brought forth such scientific advancements as the first jet aircraft, ballistic rockets and radio-guided cruise missiles, and, almost, the atomic bomb. After the war, its scientists even gave our aerospace programs a lift. And during the war, the German people did not revolt but fought to the end.

Likewise, the Soviets managed to achieve scientific advances and wield great power on a global scale for decades despite a totalitarian system.

Japan, with an authoritarian regime and only one-tenth our industrial base, designed warships, torpedoes and aircraft that were better than ours at the start of World War II. Tokyo attacked despite knowing its overall economy was inferior to ours, believing it had a moral edge.

China felt much the same when it intervened in Korea. Beijing was well aware of its inferior firepower but believed that more creative tactics would defeat the decadent Americans and the Chinese were partly right. Vietnam is another example of a dictatorship that commanded greater loyalty and sacrifice from its people than the United States could sustain.

To believe that it's a good thing for a hostile regime to gain the benefits of economic growth, and that we should help that happen, is not just naive, but dangerous. As China's capabilities expand, so will Beijing's ambitions. And as long as the regime appears successful, it will retain public support even for policies that risk war.

WILLIAM R. HAWKINS

Burke

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