- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 22, 2000

Situation in the District is un-American

While I do not support statehood for the District, I do support home rule and voting representation in Congress. No true American can argue that American citizens should be ruled by leaders they cannot elect; we fought a war against such a system. However, it is still the case with the more than 500,000 residents in the District.

Columnist Tod Lindberg not only supports the status quo, but goes a step further and argues against self-rule for the District because we have a "unicameral representative government elected entirely by a socially liberal, urban constituency and subject solely to the pressures such a constituency generates" ("Anti-Catholic dogma," Op-Ed, July 18).

That sounds an awful lot like citizens electing people to represent them and their interests. If the District is an urban area with socially liberal residents, whom does it harm for them to be governing themselves? Political ideology is not an issue. Otherwise, Mr. Lindberg may argue that Hawaii and Massachusetts should be states no longer.

I urge my fellow conservatives to stop embarrassing themselves by creating an increasingly ridiculous argument justifying a horribly un-American situation American citizens denied the ability to elect their own leaders.

SHAUN SNYDER

Washington

U.S. should take a bold stand on hypocrisy of Russia and China

I find it interesting that Russia and China are conspiring to threaten dire consequences for America if it deploys a national missile defense system ("Beijing, Moscow hit U.S. on shield," July 19).

It is interesting because both of those countries are busy supplying weapons technology and ballistic missile components to America's avowed enemies.

The U.S. response has been somewhat vapid. We should tell both countries that if the United States is attacked by one of the "rogue states" employing Russian-and Chinese-supplied weapons, we will consider the attack to have come from them. We also should tell them that when we deploy the missile defense system, we also will match any additional missile deployments they make on a one-for-one basis.

The time has come for the United States to toughen up its foreign policy toward two nations that seem determined to be incorrigible troublemakers.

DON JONES

Annandale

Defending the hate crimes bill

Paul Weyrich is wrong when he says that the hate crimes bill, passed by the Senate on June 20, victimizes white heterosexual males or creates two classes of Americans ("Senate endorses unequal treatment," Letters, July 11).

The Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act would amend current law to include bias crimes against any person targeted because of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender or disability. Crimes based on race, color, religion and national origin have been covered under federal law since the 1960s, and this bill only removes the restriction that the victim had to be engaged in federally protected activity (such as voting) when the crime occurred.

Furthermore, the government will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the crime was motivated by the victim's status and defer to state prosecution first.

White males attacked because of their race or color are protected equally with minority males or females under federal law. The reality, however, is that members of minority groups are far more likely to be victims of hate crimes.

In nearly every horrendous example that comes to mind for example, James Byrd, a black man dragged to his death on a road in Jasper, Texas, and Matthew Shepard, a white homosexual beaten and left for dead in Laramie, Wyo. the victim has minority status of some kind.

Throughout our nation's history, those motivated by bias targeted the minorities of their time. It was not all that long ago when German and Irish Americans, male and female, were singled out for persecution by their white Anglo-Saxon neighbors.

Contrary to what Mr. Weyrich might think, the only thing wrong with the current hate crimes bill is that it comes too late to protect those victims when they needed it.

JAN SCHNEIDERMAN

President

National Council of Jewish Women

New York

Rwandan genocide 'is the world's genocide'

The July 19 editorial "Whose genocide?" is both unfortunate in its conclusions and misleading in its premises.

As you correctly point out, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) International Panel of Eminent Personalities apportioned blame for the Rwandan genocide of 1994. It did not only apportion blame, however. It also drew relevant conclusions from the unnecessary saga.

Some of the recommendations are addressed to the present government of Rwanda, which is a government of national unity, contrary to its portrayal in the editorial as "ruled by minority Tutsis." In referring in your editorial to the minority in such a manner, I hope The Washington Times was not implying that a member of an ethnic minority would or should never be president of the United States.

The report recommends that the international community pay reparations to Rwandans for its enforced moral, political and diplomatic impotence that made the genocide possible. Apologies and reparations are woefully inadequate in the face of genocide. As the report correctly points out, however, this is the very least that the world owes Rwandans in general and the survivors of the genocide in particular.

To argue that to do so would set a precedent for the West to be a scapegoat for developing countries' internal conflicts, preventing people there from taking responsibility for their actions, is not only illogical but unfortunate in the extreme.

Genocide is never an internal matter. It is an international responsibility. In an attempt to deny or avoid this responsibility, officials played word games in 1994, which produced the "acts of genocide" formula that the U.N. Security Council adopted.

The OAU report asks for reparations. The editorial talks of restitution and makes the ludicrous connection that this would be tantamount to colonialism. I do hope these word games do not lead us to "acts of reparations" in the end.

The Times poses the question "Whose genocide?" The answer is that it is the world's genocide, just as the Holocaust was the world's responsibility. The other arguments advanced are red herrings destined to divert the world's attention form this central point.

Rwandans are free to associate and support whomever they want to lead them politically. If, as you charge, untrue as it is, that genocide survivors, other Tutsis and Hutus and the military are banding together to support Kigeli Ndahindurwa, then why would Rwanda benefit from a third party to act as moderator between Tutsis and Hutus?

Incidentally, what about the Twa, who also are Rwandans?

And to assume that Canada should take on this noble "civilizing" mission is, indeed, advocacy for colonialism.

While the world argues, however, the Rwandan government has acted, allotting 5 percent of all revenue to the Genocide Survivor's fund. Out of 300,000 genocide orphans, all but 5,000 have been adopted by other Rwandans at the behest of, and with the support of, the government. All of these children receive a free education subsidized by proceeds from the fund.

Reducing "genocide" to intertribal confrontation in Africa was the perception that allowed it to happen in Rwanda in 1994. The editorial falls into the same trap.

As the French say, "plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose." ("The more it changes, the more it stays the same.")

RICHARD SEZIBERA

Ambassador

Embassy of Rwanda

Washington

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide