- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 13, 2000

Calling these guys 'fathers' is a big mistake

Your story on the new federally funded study concerning male delinquency and sexual behavior ("Fatherhood doesn't help troubled teens," Feb. 7) could perhaps draw a finer distinction in terminology.

While it is dismaying to learn that "a majority of young fathers were … sexually active by age 16, frequent drug abusers and involved in gangs and violent behaviors" and that "fathering a child is associated with an even greater increase in delinquent behavior," one wonders whether a more appropriate term than fatherhood could be found for the activity in question.

Fatherhood, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, carries with it the implication of assuming personal responsibility for one's child and includes the notion of a continuing, care-giving relationship.

The behavior that is described in the study is different, consisting most frequently of getting a vulnerable girl pregnant outside of wedlock and then moving along. The men in question might be genitors of the offspring, or even sires, but, as witnessed by the study, of all the things that they are not, most prominent among them would be fathers.

DAVID MURRAY

Fairfax

The 'black hole' of international abductions

Kenneth Smith's Feb. 3 Op-Ed column, "Friends of abduction," doesn't even begin to speak of the atrocities committed by the State Department not only in its refusal to get involved in international abduction cases, but in its sabotage of all my efforts in 14 years to have my daughters released from their medieval prison in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

My case was the model for the U.S. signing of The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction in 1987, and it was through my influence that former Sen. Alan Dixon of Illinois sponsored the International Parental Kidnapping Act, which finally was passed in 1993 after six years of debate.

I lobbied long and hard for my children and hired three teams of mercenaries to rescue them. Two men died on their way to grab my daughters and get them out of Saudi Arabia through the Gulf.

Twice during this 14-year nightmare, I almost got my daughters back through diplomatic channels, but both times the State Department sabotaged the plans that I had put into place (after the Saudis had agreed to return my daughters).

My daughters are now young women who have wasted 14 years in an oppressive society where they are denied all their rights under the Constitution. They are denied freedom of movement, freedom of choice, freedom of travel, freedom of religion, freedom of speech all their human rights. As women, they can never leave that desert without a male member of their family signing their exit visas.

At least in Mr. Smith's example, Thomas Johnson's daughter lives in a sophisticated Western European country that she can leave in a few years and make her own choices for her life.

My daughters have fallen into a black hole, and the State Department has betrayed them and sold their lives for cheap oil and business deals. What a price to pay, America.

PAT ROUSH

San Francisco

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Kenneth Smith's concern for the victims of international parental abduction is well-placed. But then he seems to take a sharp turn in logic. The cases he cites at least involve disputes between the parents of children.

The Elian Gonzalez case involves only one living parent. The United States, if it wants any credibility in cases of parental abduction, must return Elian to his only living parent. Otherwise, we will be accused, correctly, of hypocrisy when we ask other countries to return children to American parents.

The cases cited represent strong arguments for getting Elian on a plane sooner rather than later. I am sure the Swedish, German and other foreign authorities can come up with no end of specious reasons why they don't want to return children to American parents. (There could be a handgun in the home; there is capital punishment in Pennsylvania.)

Our reasons for not returning Elian to his only parent are no better.

FRED CARROLL

Dallas

Thank economic reforms, not population control, for Indian improvements

Georgie Anne Geyer's Feb. 5 commentary, "Family planning inertia in India," with its apocalyptic warnings about "demographic disaster," ignores the many positive portents on the Indian subcontinent.

Though it is true that India has more than 1 billion people (having reached that mark in August), rates of poverty, illiteracy and malnutrition are on the decline. India's population may be growing, but economic development is more than keeping pace.

Consider, for example, that in 1977, when India had fewer than three-quarters of a billion people, its per-capita income was about $150. Today it is $1,600, more than 10 times greater. This means that even though India has about 250 million more people today than 20 years ago, the average income has increased by a factor of 10.

Between the years of 1983 and 1997, the Indian gross national product and gross domestic product have experienced remarkable growth. We think of the United States as being in the midst of an economic boom, but the Indian economy has experienced four times the growth rate of the U.S. economy in the past 16 years.

Another measure of Indian progress is lengthening life spans. An Indian male born in 1981 could expect to live to age 53; his sister could expect to live to age 50. By contrast, a male born in 1998 probably will live more than 62 years, while his sister can expect to live more than a year longer. These statistics refer only to those babies who lived. In 1985, out of every 1,000 babies born, 101 died. By 1998, the infant mortality rate had been cut almost in half, to 63 out of 1,000.

Literacy in India also has increased substantially. When India achieved independence in 1947, only about 16 percent of the population could read and write. The literacy rate had reached 36 percent by 1981 and 52 percent by 1995. This, too, is an impressive gain.

With an area of almost 1.27 million square miles, India has a population density of about 790 people per square mile. In real terms, this means that an Indian family of five would have an average of four acres of space in which to live. I don't think the average American would be unhappy with that much elbowroom. Certainly, there are some very crowded cities in India, but almost three-quarters of India's people still live in the countryside.

India's economic boom owes little to population control and everything to economic reforms introduced in 1991. These moved India away from central planning, helping the country attract foreign investment and compete in the world market.

The resulting new opportunities for Indian businesses, along with 300 million middle-class consumers, have pushed the subcontinent's economy ahead at a double-digit pace.

Population controllers would have us believe that there are too many people in the world, but even India demonstrates that this is untrue. Miss Geyer should not have bought into the myth of overpopulation, with its dark history of racism and its continuing practices of contraceptive imperialism and cultural neocolonialism.

Rather, she should join with the Indian people in celebrating their improving economic, social and health conditions.

STEVEN W. MOSHER

President

Population Research Institute

Front Royal, Va.

Unconstitutional

Carl Derek Cooper may well deserve to die ("The Starbucks murders," Editorial, Feb. 9), but the federal government has no business executing the sentence.

There simply is no reason for "murder in the course of using a firearm during a crime of violence" to be a federal crime. Laws against murder such as those against robbery, rape and other crimes are beyond the scope of Congress' power under Article I of the Constitution. These matters properly are the subject of state and local law.

The federal government should keep out.

JONATHAN H. ADLER

Arlington

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