- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 31, 2001

Pulling a no-show at world racism conference is 'bad sportsmanship'

Columnist Arnold Beichman assumes that the World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) is going to be an "exercise in futility," urging the Bush administration not to participate in the conference ("An exercise in futility," Op-Ed, July 27). In so doing, he misrepresents the United States' involvement in preparing for the WCAR thus far and the purpose of the conference.
Mr. Beichman's central points are well-taken: calls to acknowledge Zionism as a form of racism are politically motivated, and, if reparations are paid for past human rights violations, Western countries should not be the only ones held accountable. High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, who will be running the show in Durban, South Africa, has made these points numerous times. Though Miss Robinson does assert that acknowledging past wrongs must guide a plan of action for the future, she has not and will not support a WCAR that narrowly focuses on Zionism and reparations.
Miss Robinson is not alone. As a fellow for the International Service for Human Rights, an international nongovernmental organization based in Geneva, I monitored the first two preparatory meetings for the WCAR in Geneva and witnessed the collective will to avoid such a myopic world conference. There were, of course, a few states opposed to this general movement, but I have no doubt that they will be outnumbered when it comes time to establish the program of action and write the declaration for the WCAR.
Until now, the United States has played a vital role in drafting the documents that will determine what happens in Durban. After the second session of the Preparatory Committee, which was held from May 21 to June 1, a "Group of 21," or closed working group, was established. It is chaired by South Africa with member states from all the regional groups. The United States is a part of this drafting team, which is clustering paragraphs that belong together, identifying duplicative language and making concrete proposals to the third session of the Preparatory Committee on the best way to structure and rationalize the text. What better chance to determine the outcome of the WCAR than to continue to be involved in shaping the declaration to be ratified and the program of action to be carried out in Durban?
Mr. Beichman promotes a defeatist attitude. Instead, the Bush administration must be encouraged to end its self-interested approach to the progress that the international community continues to make. If the United States does not send a delegation to Durban, it will be left behind and look bad in the process. An unwillingness to attempt to influence events is characteristically un-American. Since when has the United States sat on the sidelines because we can't get the others to play by our rules? Pulling a no-show in Durban is far worse than isolationism; it is bad sportsmanship.

MOLLY O'HAGAN HARDY
Washington

U.S. must bolster own economy, not spend money on imports

Your July 27 editorial "'Fast track' by any other name," with its emphasis on cheap consumption, was a throwback to the worst errors of early 19th century economic theory. Proponents of "free trade" such as David Ricardo and Richard Cobden accepted that foreign competition would always drive down wages, and recommended that England import "cheap" bread to feed workers who had no hope of real progress through higher incomes.
Writing at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, they might be excused for a failure to see how bright the future could be if based on high productivity and improved social arrangements favoring domestic economic development. You have no such excuse for wanting to go back to their fatalistic notions.
The fact that most people have not seen real income increases during the past 20 years of expanded imports shows that lower prices are not an adequate substitute for a good job.
The 1990s boom was fueled by mounting consumer debt. It might have stimulated true economic growth, but too much of this spending went to buying imports-supporting production and generating income overseas. Federal Reserve interest rate cuts cannot revive an economy whose real components have fallen out from under it. President Bush's tax cuts could give the economy a boost, but any money spent on imports will be wasted in terms of domestic impact.
U.S. policy must concentrate on boosting the American industrial base in the face of foreign rivals who are contesting for control of income-producing assets. Otherwise, new trade talks will just be a "fast track" to economic ruin.

WILLIAM R. HAWKINS
Senior Fellow
U.S. Business and Industry Council
Washington

Homosexual marriage is issue for courts

Apparently your editorial department must think that the judicial branch of government has no responsibility for defending the civil rights of individual citizens, especially when they are members of an unpopular minority, from the abuses of majority will and opinion ("Marriage a la mode," Editorials, July 18).
If one were to subject all controversial issues such as gay marriage to popular vote and opinion, it is doubtful that blacks today would be enrolling in integrated schools, or eating at restaurants of their choice, or buying homes in predominantly white neighborhoods, or working in higher paying jobs.
These advances toward racial justice only began to happen with the unpopular Supreme Court decision of Brown vs. Board of Education, as I am sure you must remember. Also in that era, there were laws forbidding intermarriage between the races in a number of states until they were overturned by "socially liberal" judges in Loving vs. Virginia.
The blessings of liberty that our forebears sought for us cannot be secured by reliance on majority rule alone. There must be judicial review, however imperfect it may seem, to ensure that the rights of the individual are not being sacrificed to appease the popular prejudices of the majority.
One of the popular prejudices of conservatives is that the judicial branch of government is "meddling" in social policy when it rules in favor of individual liberties for those who are denied them by the "common sense" will of the majority.
While you are correct in believing an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment does not belong as part of our Constitution, it would be well if your editorial writers could spend more time reading the Constitution that they so highly esteem. They would discover that the third branch of government exists as a check on both abuses of presidential power and expressions of the popular will in Congress that violate individual liberties and the principle of equal protection of the law for all.
On that basis, our present laws concerning marriage are manifestly unequal and will in time be overturned by justices who can no longer turn a blind eye to the intent of our Constitution and Bill of Rights. And I am sure there will be those who will decry that decision as meddling with their exclusive privileges by "socially liberal" judges. It seems, like the poor, they will always be with us.

SARAH J. FLYNN
Storrs, Conn.

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