- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 6, 2000

Japan is facing the truth about Nanjing horrors


I feel obliged to respond to your Jan. 29 editorial "Rape of history," lest The Washington Times' readers confuse the views of the few who deny what happened in Nanjing (formerly Nanking) in 1937 with the views of the Japanese government or the vast majority of the Japanese people.
The Japanese government considers it an undeniable fact that killings of Chinese non-combatants and plundering by Japanese troops did take place in Nanjing, and has stated so publicly on numerous occasions.
In this respect, the views of the conference organizers you reported could not be at greater odds with those of the government and most Japanese people. Still, no authority in a democratic country should prevent a person or group having views contrary to governmental or popular views from using public conference facilities.
Far from being "too often consigned to a historical footnote," a widely used middle school text (for ages 13-15) allocates six pages to "the Japanese invasion of China." In part, it states that, "In Nanjing, the army massacred large numbers of Chinese people, including not only prisoners of war, but also women and children." The other 32 history books used in middle and high schools also deal with this topic.
I hope readers of The Times understand that the government and people of Japan are committed to continuing to look into the past to learn from the lessons of history and to ensure that never again do we stray from the path of peace for all humanity.
KAZUO KODAMA
Minister of public affairs
Embassy of Japan
Washington

Times editorials show the need for vouchers


I found it refreshing to see someone strike a blow for "truth in advertising" ("NEA's virtual reality," Editorial, Jan. 30). With an eye on the sports page and an ear for the television, on first hearing how well schools are doing, my assumption was the TV ad was about parochial schools. On realizing it was the National Education Association claiming much progress in public schools, my thought was, "What planet are they on?"
Your companion editorial, "Dumb and dumber" (Jan. 30), pointed out the reality of the failing public schools: Student test scores decrease the longer they are in the public schools.
This verifies what Louis V. Gerstner, chief executive of IBM, said about public schools ("CEOs, governors urge tough education reforms," Oct. 1): "The longer our children are exposed to the public school system, the further they fall behind."
With the extremely poor results for children attending public schools, opposition to vouchers for poor children, especially minority students in our cities, is just plain discrimination. Opponents are depriving these children of the opportunity to get a decent education, which in turn will give them the skills necessary to compete with more well-to-do children for better jobs.
This de facto discrimination, because of its subtlety, is more insidious than de jure discrimination.
JOHN NAUGHTON
Silver Spring

SUV column revs up responses from readers


I read with interest Kenneth Smith's column on sport-utility vehicles ("Still hate SUVs?" Op-Ed, Jan. 27). While he makes some valid points, I think he fails to consider the most significant argument against SUVs: that their actual use in suburban America bears no resemblance to the purpose for which they are designed.
SUVs are indeed highly effective in mountainous or snowy situations, where all-wheel drive and high clearance give great advantage. However,in most situations commuting, shopping, picking up kids at school they are the wrong tool for the job. SUVs are generally less comfortable than cars, with extremely brutal and primitive suspension. The high clearance in ordinary driving is a snare and a delusion: The driver thinks that the vehicle is safer because the driver sees more. In fact, that driver is merely flirting with a great risk of rollover (SUVs have a greater rate of rollover than cars).
Finally, I live in snowy New England. I think SUVs are a catastrophe for another reason: They give a false sense of security. In bad weather, when people should stay off the roads if they can, these people seem to think themselves invulnerable. This is foolish. Here are two fundamental truths about SUVs in bad weather: 1) SUVs being heavier than cars generally don't stop as well as cars, and certainly are not an improvement in the braking department; and 2) an SUV doesn't prevent a collision with another vehicle whose driver may have lost control on a slippery road. In fact, the all-wheel drive, high-clearance design is only a help in a relatively small range of circumstances hill climbing in deep snow, for example. Most of the time, on relatively flat roads, these vehicles offer little traction advantage over a car with four snow tires.
As you can see, I am not a liberal tree-hugger yammering on about gas-guzzling. I am, in fact, a conservative and car lover who thinks that most SUV drivers are mindlessly following a dumb fad by buying a vehicle that doesn't suit their needs and which may injure them unnecessarily. I wonder how many of your vaunted hospital volunteers never made it to work because they ended up (rolled over) in a ditch?
DAVID MULHERN
Portsmouth, N.H.

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Kenneth Smith's column on sport utility vehicles (SUVs) was one of the most irresponsible that I have read in a long time.
So, by Mr. Smith's reasoning, SUVs are justified because we're always going to have circumstances like the one mentioned with the hospital? So people should be buying their cars with natural disasters in mind? If I am from Florida should I buy an SUV in case there's flooding? The Environmental Protection Agency is trying to save lives. Obviously, the federal government can be guilty of overkill, but I would rather be on the safe side.
SUVs are not only dangerous to other cars, but they give their drivers a false sense of security, thereby increasing chances of an accident. And of course they consume more gas than most cars. Sure, there's plenty of gas, but gas pollutes. We should be focusing on alternative forms of energy that are not as harmful to the environment. Mr. Smith probably doesn't give much weight to the global warming theory, but why should he? That may require making a lifestyle sacrifice. Well, it's unfortunate people such as Mr. Smith give other people a sense of justification in the actions they take.
We liberals are getting awfully tired of having to clean up the messes you conservatives think will never appear. But don't worry, once things get really bad, you'll come screaming to us again for help. Then in a generation you'll forget your follies and the cycle will begin anew.
DOUG PARSONS
Athens, Ga.

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There is certainly not anything new or unique to this situation in Kenneth Smith's column concerning sport utility vehicle (SUV) volunteers. I have been a four-wheeler since the mid-'60s and was for many years a member of an off-road vehicle club in Tulsa. This was long before the term SUV was even uttered. In those days they were all simply referred to as Jeeps. True, they were not nearly as plush and comfortable as now, but useful nonetheless. We did everything from delivering blood for the Red Cross to shuttling people to and from the hospitals.
The liberals that are always whining about SUVs are probably being driven around in limos that use twice the gasoline and, if justice prevails, sometime one may need to be extracted from a snow bank somewhere by a vehicle that can take on any of several names SUV, four-wheeler or Jeep but certainly none of the terms used by the Environmental Protection Agency.
CARL BRADLEY
Lewisville, N.C.

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Kenneth Smith wrote a fabulous column on sport utility vehicles. The fabricated hooey that is written about SUVs emits enough smelly gas to make me choke.
My question is, why don't communities employ roving, mobile "exhaust detector" cars? These vehicles could pull up behind others that appear to emitting noxious fumes, take a reading, and issue a citation on the spot. That way the offending drivers would be penalized for not taking care of their cars. The others of us, whether we drive Chevy Blazers or Yugos, who take care of our vehicles would be left alone. Dallas has wasted money on thought police who drive around in blue cars issuing tickets for "road rage" violations. Why not spend the money where it would do some real good?
RAY BOND
Dallas

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