- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 16, 2004

Reconsidering Hillary

I read the article “Hillary goes conservative on immigration” (Page 1, Monday). Though I am a conservative Republican, if Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton were to run for president on a platform of controlling illegal immigration, I would consider voting for her. Our country is being invaded every day by immigrants from Mexico and by other foreign nationals. Yet the Republican Party ignores and pretends this invasion is not raging, even as our communities and tax dollars are being taken from us to support the burgeoning illegal population. I definitely will think about voting for Mrs. Clinton.

ROBIN HVIDSTON

Upland, Calif.

Peace Prize and progress

To the beat of African drums and in the presence of an audience that included European royalty and Oprah Winfrey, Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai received her Nobel Peace Prize last week (“Environmentalist claims peace prize,” World, Saturday). “Today,” she said, “we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking, so that humanity stops threatening its life-support system.” Undoubtedly, she is referring to the United States and the fact that it uses most of the world’s energy sources. Like others with the same viewpoint, she ignores the fact that the United States also produces the great majority of the world’s human output. Think of what would happen to our “life support system” if the production of oil stopped; if the for-profit prescription drug industry were halted or nationalized (say by the United Nations); if the American agricultural industry collapsed; or if the American dollar could no longer serve as the basis for most of the civilized world’s currency.

It’s easy to stand in front of Miss Winfrey and European royalty and criticize the world for harming its “life-support system.” What would be much more challenging and admirable would be to name what the world’s life-support system truly is — the values of the rational mind, the productivity it entails and the capitalism it requires — and to champion those. Not a chance you’ll hear a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize doing that anytime soon.

MICHAEL J. HURD

Chevy Chase

Peace demonstrations and dictatorships

Michael Barone’s “Nonviolence and democracy” column (Commentary, Tuesday) displays some surprising misunderstandings of history. Two particular items stand out: One is in reference to the book referred to in the article, “A Force More Powerful: A Century of Nonviolent Conflict.” Mr. Barone says authors Peter Ackerman and Jack Duvall admit that nonviolent protest does not always work. They note that Germans in Nazi Germany, for example, were not willing to oppose their rulers (through nonviolent demonstrations). This comment assumes that Adolf Hitler was wildly unpopular with the Germans. Well, the fact (unpleasant as it may be) is that this was not the case, at least not from 1933 through 1941. During those years, Hitler had widespread popular support. From 1942 on, his popularity waned, but because that was wartime, protesting of any kind was unthinkable both for patriotic and retribution/punishment reasons. (During war different rules apply — and that went for the United States, too, in World War II.) A much more appropriate example of the non-workability of protest is the time of Lenin and Stalin in the Soviet Union from 1917 through 1953. 30 million to 45 million people were killed by various means, including the artificially created famine (by Stalin) in 1933-34 that alone claimed 7 million to 8 million lives, 5 to 6 million Ukrainian lives in particular. I might add that the Ukrainians of today haven’t forgotten this atrocity.

The other remarkably fallacious comment is that North Korea is “vulnerable to nonviolent protest.” I recently read books (non-English and unavailable in English) by visitors to that country in 2001 or 2002. What they describe is bloodcurdling, and these visitors were shielded from seeing the worst. They only got glimpses through the mistakes of their “watchdogs.” Nevertheless, for a well-informed person, enough information is available in English about the Stalinist Kim Jong Il’s North Korean hell not to utter such a naive comment. An example: 2 million to 3 million people starved to death in that country just in recent years. The regime did little or nothing. So why does Mr. Barone think it would be averse to shooting and killing peaceful demonstrators?

The fact is, peaceful demonstrations (may) work only in “somewhat civilized” (at least) and authoritarian regimes. They absolutely do not and will not work in murderous totalitarian dictatorships. I wish Mr. Barone could see and understand the difference.

VICTOR C. SONGRADY

Gaithersburg

Teachers, children and revisionist history

Wednesday was the perfect day to bring the elitists’ attempts at revision to light, as it was Bill of Rights Day (“Multicultural shaping of teachers,” Commentary). It is time they stop selectively teaching what they agree with and ignoring what they don’t.

The parents of schoolchildren must fight against the multiculturalist interpretation of history. My children have all finished school, but my grandchildren face the revisionists’ efforts. We have scoured the used-book stores for old history books — those not tainted by the revisionists — so we can have the reference material to set the record straight. A wealth of children’s books are available with non-revised history. Interested parents should start looking for them and work with their preschoolers. It’s never too soon to teach the truth.

ROBERT E. BRAND

Frederick, Md.

Honoring patriots

Both Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann, on their MSNBC programs Tuesday, seemed abashed that President Bush would award the nation’s highest civilian honor to former CIA Director George J. Tenet, retired Army Gen. Tommy Franks and L. Paul Bremer, former administrator for the coalition in Iraq (“Ex-officials lauded for war work,” Nation, yesterday). Both apparently discount Mr. Bush’s opinion that these three patriots were “pivotal players in the war against terrorism,” as does USA Today’s Tom Squitieri, who complained to Mr. Olbermann that these awards were premature, that Mr. Bush should have waited until the men’s contributions had proved to be meritorious. One might wonder whether Mr. Squitieri would have considered sufficient time had passed when entertainers Doris Day and Rita Moreno were awarded the Medal of Freedom.

This controversy makes it all the more incongruous that proposed legislation in Congress is stymied for Mr. Bush to posthumously award the Medal of Freedom to the late Harry Colmery, former commander of the American Legion. In 1943, Mr. Colmery, from Topeka, Kan., wrote in longhand on Washington’s Mayflower Hotel stationery the first draft of what later would become known as the World War II GI Bill of Rights. This historic legislation provided new benefits to military veterans as they transitioned back to civilian life, the most important of which was a new educational benefit that would revolutionize America’s higher-education system.

WILLIAM H. SMITH

Palm Desert, Calif.

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