- The Washington Times - Friday, December 10, 2004

Ecoterrorism and consumerism

Ecoterrorism, which has been cited as one of the possible motives for the fires that engulfed luxury homes in Indian Head, Md., (“Inferno in Indian Head,” Page 1, Tuesday) is illegal, immoral and politically naive. However, the arson at Indian Head and the national trend in ecoterrorism may offer an important new lesson in civics. People don’t like to see species go extinct, they are sick of pollution, and they’re feeling overcrowded. People are becoming so concerned about the environment, public health and economic stability that they are committing desperate acts to protect it all.

We should sympathize with innocent property owners who are victimized by ecoterrorism and count on the courts to treat them justly. We also should sympathize with those who are passionately committed to environmental protection and public health. Their motives are noble, but when their tactics are illegal, they should be arrested.

Extravagant homes, Humvees and other goods and services with heavy “ecological footprints” will increasingly draw the ire of both radical and reasonable people as the world gets more crowded and polluted. The ire cannot take the form of ecoterrorism, but the ire itself is understandable. We must stamp out both ecoterrorism and the insidious threats to our environment and public health caused by irresponsible consumption. In a sense, ecoterrorists come in two varieties: the usual committers and the unusually conspicuous consumers.

BRIAN CZECH

Arlington, Va.

The uniqueness of Christmas

Thank you for the article “U.S. communities fail to keep ‘Christ’ in Christmas” (Page 1, Thursday), by Jennifer Harper.

We Christians are actually at fault for the loss of Christmas. We should have copyrighted it 2,000 years ago so no one could use it without our permission. This year, as I helped to plan the “holiday” party in my office, I realized how offended and angry I am that these whiners have stolen it from us. They can give gifts, attend parties and decorate, yet mention the actual name of the holiday that falls on Dec. 25 and you are stared down and reminded of its “accepted” name.

They have not bothered to steal Hanukkah, Ramadan or Kwanzaa. All of those holidays are politically correct and can actually be mentioned in a public setting — even celebrated. Blending these holidays together is absolutely ridiculous, as well, because they have no semblance to one another in origin or grandeur.

Surveys show that an overwhelming majority of the American public believes in Jesus Christ. It is time to take this holiday back from the politically correct and the retailers and forbid them from misusing our holiday.

I only wish we had the help of the trial lawyers, but they are having too much financial success with malpractice suits. They could be a force to reckon with.

TERRI ENDICOTT

Burke

This year may prove to be an unusual setback in the history of religious freedom in the United States if the American Civil Liberties Union, the courts and several schools around the nation have their way.

Each Christmas season (particularly, but at other times as well) over the past few decades, we have witnessed increasing attacks by the secular forces in the country against religious expression in the public arena (read: “at taxpayer expense”).

“Christmas holidays” are now “winter breaks” in schools, creche scenes on public property are banned by the courts; suits to deny federal dollars to “faith-based” community groups are filed; and even the mere mention of a Creator in the Declaration of Independence has ended, for now, the inclusion of this important historical document in one California teacher’s class lessons about American history. Imagine what Thomas Jefferson and other Founders would say to that.

If a school calling a holiday “Christmas” is construed to be Congress passing a “law respecting an establishment of religion,” then for it to disallow all mentions of Christmas in school is “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion.

After all, if freedom of speech doesn’t end at the schoolhouse door, neither should free exercise of religion. Both are protections of the same First Amendment. The Constitution is not a cafeteria line: You don’t pick out what you like and leave the rest. It applies together, or not at all.

JACK WEBB

Springfield

Dress code doesn’t make sense

The insistence by the director of the Federal Air Marshal Service that federal air marshals adhere to a dress code is dismaying (“Dress code wearing thin on air marshals,” Page 1, Wednesday). Apparently, some of the people responsible for our security believe the terrorists share our peculiar aversion to profiling. Or do they actually prefer the appearance of professionalism to the reality?

Would FAMS Director Thomas Quinn please explain why hijackers, as their first item of business, would not simply murder all passengers wearing a suit or sport coat? I doubt that concern about innocent casualties would deter them.

The very possibility of this might make other passengers think twice about dressing the same way the air marshals do — making our protectors even more conspicuous. Is there any common sense left?

MARVIN S. COHEN

President

Cognitive Technologies Inc.

Arlington

This story struck a note with me, a former narcotics investigator. At one point, we had a new executive officer assigned to our division.

This individual had never worked narcotics before. All his time had been spent in uniform or in the detective division wearing a coat and tie.

One of his first acts was to impose a new dress standard for the division, haircuts to the uniform standard, beards and mustaches neatly trimmed, no earrings and a neat appearance.

This showed his complete lack of understanding that we were trying to blend into drug areas replete with people sporting “mullet” haircuts and rarely bathing or shaving.

This is a perfect example of someone who is incapable of thinking outside the box. In fact, Thomas Quinn is the box. He needs to get a clue or be replaced.

The terrorists are certainly thinking outside the box. The air marshals should be thinking outside the box as well. It is dangerous to the passengers and crew for the air marshal to stand out. It turns the air marshal into a target rather than a deterrent.

The terrorists should always have to worry about whether air marshals are on board and how many there might be.

One thing I can tell you for sure is that whoever gets the drop usually wins the fight. If the air marshal can’t determine who the terrorist is and the terrorist can tell who the air marshal is, the terrorist has the drop.

He will always be able to draw first. A uniform is only a comfort to normally law-abiding people. To a criminal, it is a target or something to be avoided.

If we are going to be truly safe, we need to play the game on their level. They certainly will never play on ours.

JEFF MAHAN

Crozet, Va.

Remembering Pearl Harbor

I am grateful that your paper remembered the Pearl Harbor attack (“Pearl Harbor survivors recall attack,” Metro, Wednesday). Not many did. I am disappointed, however, that you are helping to perpetuate the myth that the USS Taney is the “only warship from Pearl Harbor still afloat.” The Taney wasn’t at Pearl Harbor during the attack — it was moored at Honolulu Harbor, 5 miles away. I think it’s disgusting that the owners of the Taney would claim the ship was at Pearl Harbor when it wasn’t.

GARY W. ROBERSON

Arlington

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