- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 31, 2000

Give police chief time to put officers on the street

I would like to address your "Back on the beat" editorial from May 24.

When it comes to public safety and protecting our citizens, I support doing what is right and most resourceful. D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams has assembled a strong supporting cast in his new administration, yet I think the new D.C. Council should play a major role in overseeing the operation of the executive departments and agencies. I have confidence in Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey. He has proved to be an effective leader of a department entrusted with duties unlike those of any other city in the world. Chief Ramsey has reduced crime across the board, so I support the chief when he says he would like some more time to hire officers before a quota is set.

I began working with Chief Ramsey last year, when I was selected by my colleagues to chair the council's Committee on the Judiciary. If we look at the crime statistics between April 1999 and April 2000, we see that robberies have dropped by 18 percent, burglaries by 9 percent, sexual assault by 4.5 percent, homicides by 4.3 percent, theft by 12 percent, aggravated assault by 11 percent and arson by 9.5 percent. That translates into almost 1,300 fewer criminal acts in a one-year period. The men and women the mothers and fathers in the police department are working hard with the resources they have to further decrease these figures. I am behind their efforts, and so is the council. I know Chief Ramsey is behind them: He is the man responsible for the department day in and day out.

The council does play a role in the process, and I stick by my belief that the more cops on the streets the better. However, let us give the chief the means and the authority to run his own department. He is an experienced and accomplished leader who will help us reach our goal of less crime, less fear and safer streets.

HAROLD BRAZIL

Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary

D.C. Council

Washington

National missile defense would increase threat to United States

President Clinton will decide as early as this summer whether to proceed with the national missile defense (NMD) system. This new system would try to defend the United States from missile attacks by rogue nations, such as North Korea.

If NMD could actually save a U.S. city and make us safer, it would be worth the billions of tax dollars we would have to pay for the system. But NMD takes an unrealistically narrow view of how we could be attacked. Even if we could greatly improve NMD so that it could dependably hit a bullet with a bullet, the nuclear threat would not be reduced, because nuclear weapons can be delivered by plane or ship. Chemical and biological weapons would be easier for an attacker to use, with greater anonymity than a missile.

An intercontinental ballistic missile is a prestige weapon, used for defense or implied threats. It is only one of various options an attacker might use.

NMD would increase the nuclear threat to the United States. Russia and China have announced that if we destabilize the nuclear balance by deploying NMD, they will increase their nuclear missiles to compensate. We don't want to revive the nuclear arms race; it was dangerous and costly enough the first time. NMD would undo many years of work on nuclear arms reduction.

Mr. Clinton appears to be leaning toward approval of NMD, but the only thing NMD would defend would be big defense contracts.

DOUG LONG

Downers Grove, Ill.

Author wrong to call Lincoln a racist

I have not read Lerone Bennett Jr.'s book "Forced Into Glory: Abraham Lincoln's White Dream," which calls Abraham Lincoln a racist, but from your article, it seems that Mr. Bennett, to make his point, may have fallen into the trap of using selective quotations ("Ebony editor calls Lincoln a 'racist' in his new book," May 26). Certainly Lincoln, like all human beings, was a creature of his times and a sinner. It is equally true that Lincoln's profound biblical understanding of evil in the human breast transcends time and circumstances.

Lincoln's occasional references to sending blacks to Liberia or to "some fertile country with a good climate" hardly condemns him as a racist. James Monroe and many other Americans, black and white, thought this was a humane alternative to the suffering of blacks in America. On this and other matters, Lincoln may have been wrong.

Lincoln held that human beings of all ages, races and stations were equally children of God and worthy of respect and justice. But he and the country faced a profound crisis. Slavery was a fact, a brutal fact. The saving of the Union was a necessity. In wrestling with these complexities and ambiguities, Lincoln displayed a remarkable capacity to understand the tragic human situation.

In his second inaugural address, on March 4, 1865, Lincoln revealed a profound understanding of the moral dilemma confronting a country at war with itself. Both sides in the bitter conflict, he said, "read the same Bible and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces; but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered… . The Almighty has His own purposes… . Fondly do we hope fervently do we pray that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away."

He continued: "With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

In his second annual message to Congress, on Dec. 1, 1862, Lincoln said that a united America freed of slavery was "the last best hope of earth."

Are these the words of a racist?

ERNEST W. LEFEVER

Chevy Chase

{}

The Washington Times carried a strangely laudatory review of the book "Forced Into Glory: Abraham Lincoln's White Dream," by Lerone Bennett Jr., executive editor of Ebony magazine. Mr. Bennett trashes Lincoln as a racist who never really freed the slaves.

If Lincoln was a racist, his achievements are all the more remarkable. Today the thought controllers are trying to convert this nation from a country governed by law to one governed by sentiment, as witness the criminalizing of thought with our ever-expanding "hate crime" laws. Lincoln rose above those sentiments and followed the stars of morality, law and unbounded patriotism to enrich all Americans with his achievements. And achieve he did.

Lincoln won the presidency by backing his opponents into a corner by their refusal to acknowledge that slavery was wrong, something he himself emphasized time and time again.

Confronting the greatest crisis of our history, he did what almost no one else could have done: He saved the Union.

Mr. Bennett claims the Emancipation Proclamation freed no slaves and was issued only under the prodding of the radical Republicans. Lincoln was not waiting for the pressure of the radicals, but rather for a Union victory that would make the Emancipation Proclamation credible. This opportunity came with the Battle of Antietam in September 1862. Lincoln's proclamation did what it was supposed to do what Lincoln understood and the radicals did not. It avoided alienating the border states while it slowly rallied Europe to the Union cause and doomed slavery in America.

Trashing Lincoln as a racist is the old story of multiculturalism using the progress of America to vilify the men who made that progress possible.

Everyone knows Lincoln was an uncouth frontiersman who was always at home with the crude speech and ribald humor of the people with whom he grew up. But there is also the Lincoln who rose to great heights: the Lincoln of the Gettysburg Address and the "house divided" speech; the Lincoln of the Lincoln-Douglas debates and the incomparable second inaugural. We know this is the real Lincoln.

If you are a black American traveling alone, whom would you rather meet in a dark alley at night, someone who admired Lincoln or someone who reviled him?

HAROLD WEFALD

Gaithersburg

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