- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 2, 2000

Aeronautical claims far out

Susan V. Parsons may be an "aeronautical engineer with more than 20 years' experience in the commercial and military aerospace and aircraft industries," but she makes some outrageous claims in her column ("Fighting future air accidents," Commentary, Aug. 31).

For example, she states, "Our environment is being destroyed with the pollution from the excessive engine emissions airplanes produce." Modern turbofan engines are probably the cleanest internal-combustion engines (as compared with power delivered) operating today.

Elsewhere, she claims, "NASA has been instrumental in research and development of nearly every technological device found on most commercial and military planes today and throughout history." This statement is patently untrue. I challenge Miss Parsons to support such a claim.

The next time you're around an airplane, check its engine manufacturer. Tell me if you ever find one that says National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The reality of aircraft design is that it has matured. Aerodynamics and structures are well understood. Wind-tunnel testing is not in great demand anymore since these dynamics are well understood even for new airframe designs.

This is why all new airplanes look suspiciously similar. They represent the most efficient design.

Improvements will continue incrementally, most of them from improved materials and manufacturing methods.

JOHN WILDER

Leander, Texas

'Altruism may be overshadowing realism' in column

Lloyd Axworthy's Aug. 29 Op-Ed piece ("Real human security") is a lucid and cohesive treatment of the concept of human security. His argument, however, would have been more credible had he addressed the framework of stability that is essential for human security to be assured. In most cases, that framework is built and maintained by combat-capable armed forces. Since that point is not treated in the column, I suspect that the idea's altruism may be overshadowing realism.

Mr. Axworthy also seems to put the cart before the horse. Unless aggression is blocked or reversed and peace enforced by conventional military operations human security programs cannot be applied successfully.

This point has been driven home against a backdrop of horrors stretching from the Balkans, through Rwanda, to Sierra Leone.

One cannot help but wonder how human security came into prominence in Canada and elsewhere. Did it grow from the "common security" concept proposed by the peace movement component of the international left starting in the mid-1980s? It is significant that since the end of the Cold War, many so-called peace groups seem to have reinvented themselves as nongovernment organizations (NGOs). While most NGOs pursue laudable objectives, others clearly seek to circumvent national governments and pursue their own agendas under the banner of humanitarianism.

In the end, there is a need for balance to make progress in human affairs. Signs have emerged recently that this may be occurring between proponents of human security and military forces.

ALAIN PELLERIN

Ottawa

Cal Thomas attacks 'prayer warriors' in his column

In his Aug. 30 column, "Prayers as political football," Cal Thomas starts out strong, but stops short of a first down. He compares student-led prayer to pharisaical drivel. Unfortunately, he cannot quote Scripture to back it up.

The Pharisees prayed for the express purpose of calling attention to themselves. Students pray before football games to honor God. It's a pity that Mr. Thomas feels the need to judge other people's hearts.

Mr. Thomas also implies that Christians who don't hide their lights under his theological bushel are the types who would request "destruction of all 'infidels' who do not worship in the same manner as the person praying." It appears Mr. Thomas is so busy telling others to be tolerant that he has forgotten to be so himself.

Mr. Thomas uses Matthew 6:5-6 to back up his assertion that public prayer means "in-your-face faith rather than an in-your-heart variety," but he should have kept reading. Eight chapters later (Matthew 14:13-21), Jesus took pity on more than 5,000 people not all believers by any stretch who came to listen to his teaching. He took five loaves and two fish and "looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, … " in public.

Again, in John 12:28, Jesus ends a discourse at a feast with this prayer, "Father, glorify thy name." The verse continues, "Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, 'I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.' " Surely if God disapproved of public prayer, He wouldn't have responded.

And let us not forget Jesus' most famous public prayer, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." If Jesus had kept it private, we would never have known He forgave us.

KENNETH L. ERVIN II

Woodbridge, Va.

n

I was astounded by the mean-spirited attack Cal Thomas levied on Christians who want nothing more than the freedom to publicly ask God to watch over their children and classmates as they prepare to hit the football field ("Prayers as political football," Commentary, Aug. 30).

As if lawsuits from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)sarcastic remarks from every liberal corner isn't enough, we Christians now have our own commentators calling us names.

While Mr. Thomas is correct that Jesus frequently separated himself from the crowds to pray in private, there were moments when He prayed publicly. In the Gospel of John, chapter 11, He raised Lazarus after praying aloud to the Father with all the townspeople looking on. As hard as I tried, I could not find any reference to Jesus looking over His shoulder, worried that maybe, just perhaps, someone who held a different faith might be offended.

It may make good press to comment that "Apparently some people have such an inferiority complex about their faith that they need to see it trumpeted before the world," or to compare the youth and their parents who want to pray before games as "hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues."

Nonetheless, Mr. Thomas is way off the mark. It is not fair to assume these folks are simply carrying out hypocritical rituals. On the contrary, I believe their motives are quite genuine.

When my family goes on a trip, we come together in prayer asking God to keep us safe on the journey. Before my son plays a basketball game, we pray for the safety of all the players. Why does it strike Mr. Thomas as unbelievable that a team or student body would want to do the same for their players before a contact sport?

Can he really spot the insincerity of these prayers just from media coverage? This is ridiculous.

These youth and their parents have rallied against the politically correct, secular grain of our modern society without faltering. They stood, and they prayed. You can call them prayer "activists" if you want. I call them prayer warriors.

JEFF L. OVALL

Lorton

Heroes still exist

Karl Zinsmeister is right to assume that Middle America has a greater affinity to and respect for any signs of heroism ("Where have all the heroes gone?" Aug. 31). Isn't this because Middle America still recognizes signs of real achievement and benevolence, unlike some of our lofty counterparts the cultural elite whose language and actions, it seems, usurp common sense?

And while physical prowess and bravery may lead to the prevention of a crime or the saving of someone's life, how about honoring the mental prowess of those who discover and fight for the values that enhance life against a culture that tries to take them away?

This underdog quality, wherever it is found, attracts men's minds, precisely because it is the example that shows us the way.

THOMAS WELSH

Bowie, Md.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide