- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 20, 2000

The United States should not trade with China

Your Sept. 18 editorial "Let's trade with China" notwithstanding, let's not trade with such a country.

U.S. capitalists are jumping up and down in their anxiety to see China admitted to the World Trade Organization. That will make it easier for those capitalists to export most of their U.S. manufacturing jobs to China. That in turn will speed up the present process whereby the U.S.-based capitalists are converting their nation into a huge Third World country of "haves" and "have-nots."

Nonetheless, if such be the desire of U.S. capitalists, then The Washington Times and the Democrats and the Republicans in the Congress and the Clinton administration will fall all over themselves to arrange it. Big money talks big in the United States.

The fig leaf employed by all of these shameless prostitutes for business (present company included) is the theory that this trade will tame the Chinese and make them less warlike. The fly in the ointment, of course, is that China is run by a communist dictator who will use his trade and his threats (resulting from his growing military strength) to tame completely the already-pusillanimous United States.

FRANK CONNER

Newnan, Ga.

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A regime that kills priests, imprisons Christians, persecutes the Dalai Lama, closes newspapers and jails dissenting academics should not be rewarded. The only way to deal with these human-rights violations is to cut back trade, just as we did to South Africa, not increase it.

"Constructive engagement" has been tried, and it has failed, miserably. As a conservative who served in the Reagan administration, I ask you to be true to the reasons for which your paper was founded: a conservative voice in Washington.

ANTONIA CHAMBERS

DeLand, Fla.

Metro seeks error-free service, but accidents do happen

We agree with the writer who said Metro should make its services more dependable or commuters may find other means of transportation ("Metro should improve its reliability if it wants to retain customers," Letters, Sept. 18). Our goal is to have 100 percent on-time, safe and reliable Metrorail service for our riders.

Metro provides hundreds of trains each day for the nearly 600,000 trips that passengers take on average during the workweek. Unfortunately, in the real world, our on-time goal is not always attainable.

Just as automobiles break down, so do trains, even with the best possible regular maintenance. In addition, customers' train travel sometimes is interrupted for reasons other than mechanical difficulties: sick passengers, debris blown onto the track during storms, animals on the track, etc.

When automobiles break down, few people have the option of owning another automobile that can come along in a few minutes just to take the place of the out-of-commission auto. Fortunately with Metrorail, another train always comes when the train you're riding has mechanical difficulty or is stopped for another reason.

Nevertheless, we want to assure the writer and all of your readers that Metro's employees work diligently each day to provide the best possible, safe and reliable service that is humanly possible for all of our customers.

JAMES GALLAGHER

Acting deputy general manager

Washington Metropolitan

Area Transit Authority

Washington

Don't believe South Africa ignores link between sex and AIDS

As I was reading Robert Maginnis' Sept. 1 Op-Ed column on AIDS in South Africa, "The African AIDS pandemic," it appeared to me that Mr. Maginnis, the Family Research Council's vice president for national security and foreign affairs, had fallen into a common trap of going to South Africa, talking to disgruntled white leftists and thinking what he heard was fact. This is a common mistake, one that particularly afflicts some major American news organizations that prefer to learn about blacks by talking to white so-called experts instead of talking to blacks themselves.

Writing about South Africa's president, he writes that "incredibly, [Thabo] Mbeki reportedly has used the 'HIV does not cause AIDS' argument." The reports are incredible, and the right thing to do when you read them is to do what Americans increasingly must do check out the facts on the Internet.

South Africans have an excellent Web site www.gov.za. Click on "speeches," and search last year's speeches for "HIV/AIDS." Of 1,965 speeches given by top political leaders, 218, or 11 percent, concerned HIV and AIDS. Search this year, and you will find that 279 of almost 2,000 speeches in eight months concerned HIV and AIDS.

This is not a government ignoring a problem or whose attention to the issue arises from Al Gore's sudden discovery of the problem in January. Read the speeches, and you will find that much of the advice given to South Africans by our government and some very arrogant editorial writers is superfluous because South Africans have long been doing what the advice-givers urge.

Mr. Mbeki and his colleagues used the expression "HIV/AIDS" in some 500 speeches during the past 20 months. What is indeed incredible is how some crusading journalists and editorial writers can take that expression and claim that the person using it denies that there is a link between HIV and AIDS.

Mr. Mbeki has been even more specific. In an Oct. 9, 1998, "Declaration of Partnership Against AIDS" (which you can find on that Web site), Mr. Mbeki talked about AIDS and how "HIV spreads mainly through sex." Mr. Mbeki's speech to the World Conference on AIDS this year also used the term "HIV/AIDS," yet reporters at the conference somehow claimed that in his speech Mr. Mbeki did not acknowledge the link between HIV and AIDS. This is almost willful stupidity.

Deliberately distorting the South African position on this issue is troublesome, but the most pernicious, vicious nonsense being circulated about South Africa concerns wild fantasies about black sexual conduct and African culture. No newspaper would report that white South Africans rape virgins out of a cultural myth that sex with a virgin cures AIDS without demanding that the reporter provide very solid, real, verifiable proof to back up his claim. Yet when such claims are made about blacks, normal standards of editorial scrutiny are waived. Similarly, many newspapers and TV news shows have reported that South Africa became "the rape capital of the world" once blacks got the right to vote and run the government. They made such claims simply on the basis of unsubstantiated "estimates" issued by white-run organizations in South Africa. Editors forget that just maybe in the land of apartheid some whites still harbor deep racial prejudices against blacks.

Stories about black men raping virgins to cure AIDS are spread not only about South Africans, but about blacks all over Africa and the Caribbean and about brown-skinned people in Asia, but never about whites.

This should be a red flag for any serious editor, but the warning is ignored because the myths about black rapists have a long history in the racial stereotypes of whites in South Africa and other countries, including our own.

The best available information shows that rape is relatively rare in African tribal culture. The most credible data is from a survey conducted in 1998 by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the South African government based on personal interviews of 12,000 women the Demographic and Health Survey is available on the Internet at www.sahealthinfo.org. Contrary to all the claptrap about black culture, the survey found: "Only four percent of all women reported ever having been raped" and that only 3.2 percent of black rural women women living in traditional African society had ever been raped. By contrast, a Louis Harris Associates poll last year found that 9 percent of American women reported having been raped.

AIDS in Africa is indeed a serious problem, and it needs serious attention. But there is no justification for resorting to racial slurs against black people as part of an effort to get this problem the attention it deserves.

PHILIP CHRISTENSON

Washington

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