- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 19, 2000

Column on youths and marriage is divorced from logic

This letter concerns Kathleen Parker's column, "A generation says 'I don't' to marriage" (Commentary July 8). She cites a study on marriage by Rutgers University's National Marriage Project, which examined the attitudes of people in their 20s about marriage, sex and divorce.

Anyone with a shred of decency, much less a semblance of an idea about moral and social order, would have been appalled and distressed by the results of this study.

Miss Parker, however, makes the fatuous comment, "young Americans are smarter than ever, if not wiser." She gives as an example, "They are correct in fearing divorce, which is assuredly an economic liability."

If economics is the primary reason for fearing divorce, then one could easily believe that divorce is to be feared only if your spouse is poor. If your spouse is rich, however, then divorce may not be an economic liability at all, for it could result in a rather nice windfall. Need divorce be feared then?

The column offers many more examples of this kind of flawed thinking, but I will cite just one more.

Miss Parker writes that young people are "not wrong to believe living together is a substitute for marriage. They just don't know any better." She contradicts herself in this statement because if these young people are "smarter than ever, if not wiser," as she asserts, then why don't they know any better?

The research she cites to the contrary has not exactly been a secret. Why do these young people not know that chances of success at anything comes from being smarter and wiser and not from avoiding commitment and ignoring moral standards?

Too bad The Washington Times chose to print such a sophomoric column on a subject that is not only itself serious, but also has serious consequences for society.

PAUL A. PANGALLO

Indianapolis

More to EPA report on climate change

Christopher Horner's column "Apocalypse soon" (Op-Ed, July 5) quoted an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) review criticizing the first draft of the U.S. National Assessment on Climate Change report.

However, Mr. Horner failed to note that a subsequent EPA review of the revised report concluded that it "is a scientifically credible, defensible, unbiased document in which the findings are presented in a balanced way. It fairly reflects the scientific literature, the historical record, and the output of extant models."

EPA applauds the extensive and thorough peer review process that the National Assessment report has undergone and believes it is an excellent example of how an open, inclusive and scientifically sound peer review process should work.

NORINE E. NOONAN

Assistant administrator for research and development

Environmental Protection Agency

Washington

Millennium monument good for D.C. neighborhood

The July 3 editorial "A Millennium what?" is misleading and mischaracterizes the groundswell of broad-based support developing for the Millennial Gateway Project. In particular, residents of Barney Circle, including its grass-roots organizations, such as the long-standing Barney Circle Neighborhood Watch and the newly forming Capitol Gateway Neighborhood Beautification Committee, are actively engaging their neighbors, local businesses, community leaders and city officials to support this initiative. We disagree with your tone and inference that Barney Circle is not an appropriate location.

First, your editorial mocks our grass-roots advocacy for the monument. Such a myopic view of community activism does a disservice to your readers. Indeed, these "folks who live within yelling distance of Barney Circle," genuinely care about this community and have been working for years for something better for their neighborhood.

Now a potentially great opportunity has come our way in the form of a monument, and The Washington Times greets it with sarcasm. The gateway and surrounding park would replace a barren wasteland of asphalt and fescue, which currently is all that marks this commuter crossroads on the banks of the historic Anacostia River.

The Times misrepresents the proximity of the Barney Circle site to the Potomac Avenue Metro stop, which does indeed include a major public transportation junction. Contrary to the implication that this junction will suffer "congestion and confusion during construction," the fact is, had The Times spent more time in our neighborhood, you would know that the Potomac Avenue Metrorail-Metrobus junction is several blocks west of Barney Circle and clearly beyond the area to be impacted directly by construction activity.

The Times minimizes the value of art for art's sake. How philistine. Thankfully, bold visionaries over the past two centuries had an appreciation for the placement of neoclassical architecture in the capital of our great nation, the same style being proposed for this monument. Without such artistic inspiration, how would the District look today? A monument marking the millennium is particularly fitting in that it asks us to look at where we have come together as a people and where we will we go from here. All of this would be placed within a community, not on the Mall and removed from the reality of the residents' lives.

The Times questions the value of this monumental architecture and sculpture for our Ward 6 residents and their families. Are we not good enough? There really is no more appropriate location than Barney Circle, which is a major gateway into the heart of the capital. Apparently, The Times is not aware that Pierre Charles L'Enfant, when creating his master design for the District, intended for Pennsylvania Avenue to be the primary promenade that would tie the Anacostia River to the Capitol and monuments to the Potomac River in Georgetown. The placement of an important monument here would be the completion of that vision.

If The Times spent more time at the circle which adjoins our nation's Congressional Cemetery, looking down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol on one side and then to the vista of the quiet Anacostia and hills beyond on the other you would know what a very unique part of the city it is.

Congressional Cemetery, our country's first national cemetery, contains not only the remains of many national heroes, but also artifacts of American Indians who once made their encampments on the site. It is a national disgrace that it has been allowed to decline. It deserves to be raised up to its rightful status and made into a place that all will want to visit. The monument would help do that.

The Times impugns the motives of the Millennium Gate Foundation for wanting to build this monument in Washington, which it intends to do through private funding. Yet this organization has the backing of some influential folks in Washington, including Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Sen. Paul Coverdell. These individuals, like the residents of the Barney Circle neighborhood, see the monument as a wonderful opportunity to draw visitors off the overcrowded Mall to the Anacostia riverfront and Congressional Cemetery.

There is value in giving tourists the opportunity to visit a community comprising generations of D.C. residents. The District is much more than the monuments. Barney Circle is a key corridor linking the working-class communities of the Anacostia River to the affluence of Capitol Hill.

The Times belittles our right to self-determination as a community by its very tone, which unfairly infers that the enhancement of Barney Circle and the surrounding community must be relegated to the juggernaut of automobile commuter convenience. We disagree.

We know that the Sousa Bridge carries many commuters from Wards 7 and 8 and beyond who rely on this route to get farther into town. We residents of Barney Circle know more than most how critical it will be for the construction not to interfere with traffic. After all, it is our neighborhood that will feel the brunt of commuters as they wind through our streets to avoid rush-hour traffic. A renewed Barney Circle, with more emphasis on pedestrian commuters and visitors in the area, may alleviate some traffic problems by slowing down the legions of speeding commuters who presently blast through that intersection.

The Times also incorrectly assumes a static state of automobile traffic with no increase in Metro ridership and doesn't take into consideration that the Southeast-Southwest Freeway is undergoing improvements. Included in the plans for this monument would be other mass-transit alternatives that would move visitors to and from the area. We feel confident that a way can be found to work out these matters. But perspectives such as yours would deny us the opportunity even to try. We deserve better.

MARY F. WITHIM

VERONICA A. FROELICH

Washington

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