- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 28, 2000

Radical ideologies invade liberal arts schools

I am writing in response to John Hope Franklin's observations regarding the decline in interest in the liberal arts ("Liberal arts take a back seat," Op-Ed, Oct. 26). I am inclined to agree with Mr. Franklin that the liberal arts and the desire for learning are critical to the health of society. However, for the last 40 years our liberal arts schools (including Mr. Franklin's own Duke University) have been sliding further and further to the left. Instead of remaining bastions of Western civilization and orthodox Christianity, all too often they have become havens for unrepentant socialists, atheists, nihilists, deconstructionists, radical feminists, revisionist historians and all other manner of anarchists who seem to think that Western civilization was a failure. And, being of that mind, they seek to denigrate our civilization's proven successes, both moral and economic, by harping on its imperfections around the edges.

If the liberal arts schools are going to continue to pollute our young minds with the leftist drivel they've been shoveling out of late, then I would encourage all students to head for their local engineering school and vote using their common sense.

JEFFREY HANEY

Debary, Fla.

Debunking Cuba's racial equality myth

Bravo to Wayne Smith and Rep. Charles Rangel for acknowledging that Fidel Castro is a dictator for all Cubans, blacks and whites ("Cuban racial equality termed a myth,"A12, Oct. 24).

Racism is just another issue in which the Cuban Revolution's record contradicts its preaching. Black Cubans men and women are indeed overrepresented in Cuba's prison population, and comprise a significant percentage of dissidents. The most prominent political prisoners in Cuba today are black or mulatto

It is time to debunk the myth that black Cubans side with Mr. Castro's revolution against "right-wing, reactionary" white Cubans. Black and white Cubans on both sides of the Straits of Florida agree on their desire for a democratic Cuba.

SEBASTIAN ARCOS

Cuban Committee for Human Rights

Miami

Democrats, Asner spook seniors over the phone

During the Republican National Convention, Texas Gov. George W. Bush predicted that scare tactics and fear mongering would emerge from the Democrat camp in the final days before the election.

He was right. Currently, the Democrats have an automated phone message going out to senior citizens around the country warning them of impending doom should Mr. Bush become president. And they have recruited washed-up actor Edward Asner to intone the ominous message.

The claims made in the call are manifestly false. They consist of the same kind of hysterics, doom-and-gloom fear mongering that we heard from Democrats when the Republican Congress enacted welfare reform.

The same Democrats that told us children would become homeless and die of starvation if the Republican welfare reform was enacted, are now telling the elderly that they will starve to death if Mr. Bush is elected president.

Apparently old habits die hard. It would seem that Democrats just can't resist the temptation to resort to fear and misinformation instead of relying on a plain discussion of the issues.

Could it be that Democrats are fresh out of ideas and have no other recourse but to scare people into voting for them? I think the action of Democrats in these final weeks will answer that question.

MICHAEL KOLLER

Germantown

Orphanages good, but hardly 'elite'

In the Oct. 22 Commentary Forum, "Why orphanages need foster care," Richard Wexler denounces my Oct. 15 Commentary article "My name is Nobody" on children's homes, or orphanages, on grounds that are grossly inaccurate. Allow me to briefly correct him.

First, Mr. Wexler once again claimed that the children's homes covered in my survey were creme de la creme of orphanages (in other venues he has dubbed them "elite orphanages"). The problem with his repeated claim is that he doesn't really know anything about the homes studied, not even their names. I've never published their names, and I can't do that because of confidentiality agreements I have with the alumni. All he really knows is that the alumni from the homes covered have done fairly well in life, which has, apparently, caused him to conclude that they had to be the creme de la creme. That is hardly the case. The homes covered were representative of a large number of homes in existence in the 1960s and before. They were pretty good places but hardly luxury orphan resorts (a turn of words that should cause many orphanage alumni to chortle).

True, in other commentaries, I have cited the Milton Hershey School in Pennsylvania as an exemplary children's home that has an endowment that rivals the Getty Museum (my words quoted in Mr. Wexler's piece). However, if Mr. Wexler meant to insinuate that Hershey alumni were included in my survey, they were not. The homes studied had little or no endowments 30 or more years ago.

Second, Mr. Wexler says my research findings were not published in a peer-review journal. If he had checked the child welfare literature, he would have found it was indeed published in a peer-review academic journal based at the University of Minnesota.

Third, he tags my work as junk science. Really? If he had inquired about my research methods before using such a defamatory phrase, I could have told him that I had about 30 scholars in child welfare and survey research methods, plus practitioners, help me with the development of the study to ensure its academic credibility. The limitations of the study are laid out in the article.

Fourth, Mr. Wexler points to the problems of an orphanage (his term) in my home county in California called Orangewood. However, Orangewood is hardly representative of the homes covered in my study, or the one I grew up in. It is a seriously overcrowded child crisis shelter and treatment center for abused children, not an orphanage. The problems reported at Orangewood reveal the crying need for more care options.

Fifth, I've never attempted to speak for all orphanage alumni. When space or time has allowed, I've tried to recognize that not all orphanages were the kind of homes represented in my survey. Some had serious problems. But then, the same statements could be made of biological families and their foster-care variants. The point of my study is that there were (and remain) homes that did (and are doing) well by a sizable majority of their graduates. The point of my Commentary article is that children's homes are returning because families and the foster-care system are failing far too many children.

I wish Mr. Wexler well in his efforts to reform the child welfare system. But until the system is substantially reformed, there will be a growing number of children, like the little girl I met in Minneapolis, whose futures will be bleak without additional forms of private and public help.

RICHARD B. MCKENZIE

Irvine, Calif.

NY Times for Hillary

The New York Times endorsement of first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton for the U.S. Senate sounds more like an apology ("Mrs. Clinton's 'ethical legacies,' " Editorials, Oct. 26). It should leave no doubts that the New York Times places its own ideology above the public good.

First, the newspaper trots out a laundry list of good reasons not to vote for Mrs. Clinton then it follows it up with a lame speculation that she will grow out of her ethical transgressions.

Such is the desperation of liberal minds at work. Though the New York Times knows she's not the better candidate, it has to find some way to endorse her.

TIMOTHY M. SIGGIA

East Hartford, Conn.

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