- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 21, 2000

Tearing down protectionist propaganda limb by limb

The letter by Ben Julian of the U.S. Public Interest Group is a classic example of the know-nothing campaigns of the protectionist-animal rights lobby and its partners in the federal establishment ("Public wants logging to end in roadless areas of national forests," June 20).

The 90 percent public support he cites comes from publicity in the cities from fantasy nature programs, checkoffs on pop-up ads when you turn on your e-mail, and slanted nonsense about "lost" resources. Who do you think pays for and puts that stuff together?

Local and rural people know how that game is played as they see logging stopped, access to recreation and grazing eliminated and ballot initiatives outlawing traps and the harvesting of cougars and bears. Local and rural people can be ignored, just as the East can overwhelm the West, Chicago and New York City can overwhelm downstate and upstate areas and Los Angeles can overwhelm the valleys and mountains.

Roadless areas and wilderness do not provide more recreation, they provide less. They do not provide wildlife habitat, they cause a decline in animals and species because they reduce plant diversity. They do not provide cleaner air than well-managed forests.

The marginal gain in periodically cleaner water is infinitesimal when weighed against all the losses from the elimination of legitimate and renewable uses by people.

Mr. Julian's letter represents the disinformation aspect of the reigning philosophy of nature worship that has guided much public policy in recent years. By political machinations with and contributions to the administration, the animal rights-protectionist crowd has caused the fire problem on public lands and the reduction and elimination of all kinds of benign and beneficial uses of the renewable natural resources of this great land.

Whether it is simple bigotry against rural America or a vile attempt to eliminate everything from logging and hunting to the eating of meat and pet ownership, this is still the tyranny of the majority that the Founding Fathers were concerned about. Logging by helicopter is merely an impractical and expensive bone to make the protectionist crowd look reasonable. Don't believe it and don't support what it is trying to accomplish.

JIM BEERS

Centreville

Constitution embodies church-state separation

Balint Vazsonyi's June 13 Commentary column, "How much longer under God," in effect challenges existence of the constitutional principle of separation between religion and government. Apparently, many of your readers and writers will be surprised to learn:

* In 1787, the Founding Fathers, including James Madison, did not include "God" and "Bible" in the Constitution and wrote that Americans "shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation … but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States" (Article 6).

* In 1789, a Senate-House conference committee, of which James Madison was co-chairman, did not insert the word "state" before the word "religion" in the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."

* In 1811, President James Madison wrote (Feb. 21 veto message, "The Writings of James Madison," Vol. 8, Page 132): "Governments are limited by the essential distinction between civil and religious functions."

* In an undated essay, James Madison wrote (William and Mary Quarterly, 1946, Vol. 3, Page 555): "Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion and Government in the Constitution of the United States, the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history."

* The supreme law of the land is the 1787 Constitution, not the 1776 Declaration of Independence.

* The national motto is "e pluribus unum" of many, one.

* It was not the Founding Fathers, but pandering politicians many years later who, in spite of the Constitution, imposed "In God We Trust" onto all currency and "under God" into the Pledge of Allegiance.

GENE GARMAN

Pittsburg, Kan.

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Balint Vazsonyi's column "How much longer under God?" was loaded with pettifoggery and obfuscation.

He notes that the phrase "separation of church and state" does not appear in the U.S. Constitution but fails to note that neither "God" nor "under God" appears in that thoroughly secular basic governing document. Monotheistic slogans in the Pledge of Allegiance and on coins and currency came much later, when the founders were all dead.

Mr. Vazsonyi also ignores constitutional clauses that clearly embody the church-state separation principle. The Constitution forbids religious tests for public office. Incoming presidents can, if they wish, "affirm" their loyalty rather than "swear" it on the Bible. Citizens are to be equal before the law regardless of religious or philosophical persuasion.

The columnist unblushingly cites Thomas Jefferson in support of the God-in-government approach, although Jefferson was a champion of church-state separation who refused to issue Thanksgiving proclamations and preferred to invoke "Nature's God" (Declaration of Independence) rather than a more orthodox source of inspiration.

Mr. Vazsonyi's further claim that without public religious correctness (monotheism) the door is open for totalitarianism is pretense and poppycock. There are many examples, past and present, of regimes acting in the name of God as they perpetrated acts of torture and murder against enslaved people.

STAN LICHTENSTEIN

Bethesda

Guest-worker programs no help for immigrants

In Georgie Anne Geyer's June 9 Commentary column, "Union cards for illegal aliens?" she concedes that "illegals," as many derogatorily refer to immigrants who come here seeking quality of life, are indeed abused and exploited. But they are exploited not because they broke the law entering the country illegally and somehow deserve it, but because they live in fear of reprisals and deportation and simply have no way of demanding basic human rights.

Miss Geyer praises guest-worker programs as the solution to bringing in on a temporary basis workers to the United States "in an orderly and supervised fashion." She says the programs solve some work needs and immigration problems. These programs, however, have serious flaws.

May I remind Miss Geyer that the slave trade was pretty well organized, too? It is wrong to assume that people coming in as guest workers will be any less exploitable than undocumented people coming in through other means. Guest workers have minimal, if any, rights and are entirely dependent on their employers if they wish to maintain legal status.

Miss Geyer's concern that the current administration is not focused on controlling our borders because Clinton officials are too busy "protect[ing] illegals from 'discrimination' " is unwarranted. The current budget request for Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) funding is $4.8 billion. The overwhelming majority of these funds go to immigration enforcement. If the current request for 430 border patrol agents is approved, the INS will have about 9,000 border agents. In the past several fiscal years, the INS has enrolled more than 1,000 new border agents each year.

The budget and number of people protecting immigrants' rights are drops in the bucket by comparison. The AFL-CIO's decision to defend the working rights of undocumented workers should be commended, not criticized.

The concern of many Latino, labor, civil rights and community groups over the immigrant population's being discriminated against does not arise from political correctness, but from the urgency in addressing and eradicating racism, worker abuses, lack of health care and ineffective inner-city educational systems. These are, indeed, national concerns.

CHRISTINA CHAVEZ COOK

Legislative staff attorney

Mexican American Legal Defense

and Educational Fund

Washington

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