- The Washington Times - Friday, June 27, 2003

Columnist misses the point on affirmative action

With all due respect, Cal Thomas’ Thursday column (“Negative action … and principles,” Commentary) on the Supreme Court’s recent affirmative action ruling was the most blatantly discriminatory column I have ever read. As I am just 18 years of age, experience is something I have not yet been afforded. However, by being a black man in America, I have come to understand that race is an issue that creeps into all forums, from business to education.

In the column, Mr. Thomas quoted the 14th Amendment but disregarded the most important aspect of this amendment: “… nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law … .” Even though Mr. Thomas suggests they don’t exist, discriminatory practices are prevalent in America. For many blacks, there is no “level playing field.” Blacks often are not given jobs for which they are qualified but are instead relegated to subservient positions. Blacks in the workplace are commonly overlooked for higher positions; therefore, it is obvious that some forms of discrimination and prejudice exist.

In the realm of education, which the Supreme Court’s decision directly affected, Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor should be congratulated for acknowledging that diversity is a very important component of the educational process. Mr. Thomas stated, “If universities want to boost minority enrollment, for whatever reason, the place to begin is in the primary and secondary schools.” The “whatever reason” is for diversity and to ensure that complete and comprehensive learning experiences at our colleges and universities may be had.

Our country’s primary and secondary schools must do a better job of preparing our youth for the challenges not only of the college experience, but of the college application process as well. However, it also is true that our schools are inherently unequal, and therefore, schools with minorities often are underfunded.

In the case of D.C. students, there is and can be no excuse for their very poor academic performance. However, characterizing the children of the D.C. public school system as illiterate was inappropriate, to say the least. Affirmative action does not force upon institutions of higher learning illiterate students. Instead, it provides a means by which students with the same or greater scholastic capability have the opportunity to compete with their majority counterparts.

Mr. Thomas’ column not only had a racist tone, it also portrayed blacks as illiterate students who could only run fast and jump high.

This being said, I would like to thank Mr. Thomas for reiterating my belief that “ignorance is still bliss.”

BAKARI SELLERS

Denmark, S.C.

Iranian group hardly democratic

As a democracy-loving Iranian in exile, I object in the strongest terms to Arnold Beichman’s Wednesday column (“Iran’s new French connection,” Commentary). I am so dumbstruck by this column that I would like to question Mr. Beichman’s motives for writing such a piece. The organization he praises, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), has been responsible for orchestrating terrorist campaigns against Americans in Iran in the past, murdering innocent Americans.

This group remains a terrorist organization. How else do you explain its total lack of regard for the sanctity of life when it sanctions self-immolation by its members? It is another terror tactic.

In the column, Mr. Beichman said that NCRI President Maryam Rajavi “leads a democratic resistance movement seeking overthrow of the theocratic tyranny that now dominates the Iranian people.” It is incredible to suggest that either Mrs. Rajavi or the organization she leads is democratic.

Here is a brief history of Mrs. Rajavi and the NCRI, as reported in mainstream media.

The NCRI was founded in 1965 after a split in a Marxist-Leninist movement that had waged a guerrilla action in northern Iran. Its ideology emerged as a mix of Islam and Marx, with ingredients from the Iranian religious sociologist Ali Shariati, who advocated an “Islam without a clergy.” The NCRI, with KGB help, engaged in a campaign against the Iranian shah and sent cadres to Cuba, East Germany, South Yemen and Palestinian camps in Lebanon to train as guerrillas.

Vladimir Kuzichkin, a former KGB head in Tehran, reveals in his memoirs that the NCRI became a major source of information on Iran for Moscow. It also helped Moscow in its efforts to thwart U.S. influence in Iran. In 1970 and 1971, the NCRI murdered five American military technicians working with the Iranian army. An NCRI team tried to kidnap U.S. Ambassador Douglas MacArthur III in Tehran. The attempt failed, and the team’s leader, Mrs. Rajavi, was handed a death sentence, later commuted thanks to a plea to the shah from Soviet President Nikolai Podgorny.

During Iran’s 1978-79 turmoil, the NCRI played an active role in helping Ayatollah Khomeini to power. Its squads burned cinemas, restaurants, hotels and bookshops and murdered policemen. After the ayatollah seized the reins, the group did all it could to radicalize the regime, supporting the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Yet within a year, the NCRI, now led by Mrs. Rajavi who had been released from prison during the revolution, decided that the Khomeini regime was not revolutionary. It had to be toppled, so there ensued a terrorist operation against the regime, which still continues.

Support for the NCRI remained a bipartisan policy of France until this week. Mrs. Rajavi fled Tehran for Paris in 1981 by hijacking an Iranian aircraft. Among those with her was Abol-Hassan Bani-Sadr, the first president of the Islamic Republic, who had just broken with Ayatollah Khomeini. Instead of arresting Mrs. Rajavi and Mr. Bani-Sadr as hijackers, the French rolled out the red carpet. Claude Cheysson, then foreign minister, persuaded them to work with Iraq — then at war against Iran — to topple the ayatollah. At a meeting arranged by Mr. Cheysson, Mrs. Rajavi and Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz signed a deal in which the NCRI would receive cash and backing from Baghdad in exchange for help in the war against Iran.

Between 1982 and 1985, Mrs. Rajavi visited Baghdad six times and formed a relationship with Saddam Hussein, who helped her organization set up camps in Iraq to train Iranians for sabotage. In 1988, Iran and Iraq agreed to a cease-fire, but Mrs. Rajavi received the nod from Saddam to continue a low-intensity war against Iran from Iraqi territory.

In 1987, Jacques Chirac, then prime minister, signed an accord with the NCRI granting it protection in exchange for a promise not to kill Iranian officials on French soil. Over the years, the NCRI organized an asylum seekers’ racket: 40,000 Iranians to Europe on bogus claims in exchange for “voluntary contributions” of up to $10,000 each.

Now a personality cult built around blind devotion to Mrs. Rajavi, the group has recruited its adepts mainly from relatives of people executed by the Khomeinist regime. Individuals are brainwashed and not allowed to develop normal relationships outside the organization. They refuse to send their children to school, insisting that they be educated at home.

By 1988, the NCRI had created a 10,000-strong fighting force in Iraq, which helped Saddam in his genocidal campaign against the Kurds, and also to crush the Iraqi Shi’ites in the south in 1991. Many Iraqi Kurds and Shi’ites want NCRI leaders tried for crimes against humanity.

But the group has support in Congress. More than 300 U.S. legislators from both parties have at one time or another signed petitions in support of the group, and NCRI spokesmen say they have offered the sect’s services to the United States in case of war with Iran. Diligent Iranians in exile have written to Congress on every occasion pointing out their folly.

TAJI AAZAR

London

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