- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Time for a fresh start

Regarding the editorial “Mfume’s departure” (Sunday) on Kweisi Mfume stepping down as NAACP leader: That is good news, for it portends a golden opportunity for that organization to get back on track to improve the black community’s lot.

Despite The Times’ wishing him good luck, no tears should be shed for Mr. Mfume, who did nothing for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People during his tenure as president and chief executive officer. I can recall only his fierce (albeit ridiculous) commitment to the teaching of Ebonics in school and his championing of hip-hop as a positive and educational force. The net result was a hefty zero, as Ebonics is for the most part dead, and the only thing I know positively about hip-hop is that most of its “performers” encourage public rowdiness and anti-social behavior among young fans.

The NAACP, by selecting a young leader with the stature of Julian Bond, Andrew Young, Thurgood Marshall, Sidney Poitier or Denzel Washington (Barack Obama comes to mind), has a real chance for advancing its initiatives. It’s a matter of having knowledge combined with class and character that will determine whether the black community moves ahead or remains stagnant.

Remember: Naming schools, libraries and theaters after prominent black Americans doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t use their teachings and achievements to the fullest.

HERBERT W. STARK

Massapequa, N.Y.

Abstinence education: Good, not perfect

According to the article “Democrat’s report calls abstinence plans ‘misleading’ ” (Nation, Thursday), a congressional investigation led by Rep. Henry A. Waxman, California Democrat, has found that abstinence-only classes frequently provide “false and misleading information.”

The story, which points out some questionable aspects of abstinence-only curricula, says President Bush has enthusiastically backed the abstinence-only movement, proposing to spend $270 million on abstinence projects in 2005. Congress reduced that to about $168 million.

The obvious implication of the story: Abstinence-only education is deficient. In a sense, that’s true. Sex education should be taught by parents, not the schools. However, that said, I submit that abstinence-only education is better than so-called comprehensive sex education.

Consider: Brian Clowes, doctorate-holding author and researcher for Human Life International (www.hli.org), found that between 1960 and 1991, the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases increased 245 percent, abortions increased 800 percent, and the illegitimate birthrate increased 457 percent.

Much of the responsibility for these trends, Mr. Clowes says, “must be laid at the doorsteps of the [secular] sex educators.” Indeed.

Abstinence-only education is far from perfect — and perhaps some of the curricula should be revised — but at least it’s telling teens to do what is right — namely, not to have sex until they’re married. Planned Parenthood-style comprehensive sex education doesn’t do that; it tells teens that if they choose to engage in sexual activity, they should use protection.

And if that fails, well, there’s always the local abortion mill.

Here’s what I don’t get: It’s fine to tell teens to “Just say no” to smoking and drug use, but when it comes to sex, abstinence-only education isn’t “realistic.” Instead, we must instruct teens on how to engage in “safe sex.”

Alfred Kinsey must be so proud.

MATT C. ABBOTT

Chicago

Last week, Rep. Henry A. Waxman released a highly partisan report against abstinence education. The irony of this report is that Mr. Waxman has been a consistent defender of all types of controversial programs for HIV/AIDS prevention. He defended federal funding of homosexual flirting classes and live sadomasochism demonstrations. He even has supported legalization of marijuana and federal funding for needle distribution programs.

Mr. Waxman’s congressional district in West Hollywood, Calif., is so riddled with prostitution, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS and failed examples of the contraceptive sex education that the Abstinence Clearinghouse is taking the International Abstinence Leadership Conference to Hollywood. The local people in Mr. Waxman’s district invited us in to help them clean up the area.

I cordially invite Mr. Waxman and his staff to attend the conference. After seeing the new scientific research supporting abstinent behaviors and the innovations in abstinence and relationship education, he will be hard-pressed to release a report as misleading and misguided as this one.

LESLEE UNRUH

President

National Abstinence Clearinghouse

Washington

Reform goes too far

Your editorial on the so-called intelligence reform bill, (“Intelligence reform talk,” Nov. 30) correctly categorized the objection of Rep. James Sensenbrenner and other Republicans concerning the lack of immigration security provisions in driver’s license reform.

What has been underreported in this debate is that the Senate’s proposals to “standardize” state driver’s licenses contain provisions for biometric screening — a backdoor national ID system every bit as troubling to privacy watchdogs on both the left and right as is anything proposed by the House. The difference is that the Senate proposal does nothing to shore up immigration security even as it looks to create ever-larger databases on Americans.

The conference language also contains troubling anti-financial-privacy provisions such as the further expansion of “anti-money laundering” powers and the repeal of the sunset clause of Title III of the Patriot Act.

Title III, added to the Patriot Act by Sen. John Kerry, expands the definition of “financial institutions” required to report customer transactions to include jewelry stores, car dealers, and travel agents, among others.

The sunset provision was included so that Congress could debate whether these violations of consumer privacy were actually doing anything to catch terrorists. Now, that debate, like many others, is being pre-empted in the mad rush to pass “reform” before the year is out.

JAMES PLUMMER

Policy analyst

Consumer Alert

Washington

Racism from the left

Rather than opposing Sen. Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, on his comment (Inside Politics, Tuesday), that he might be able to support Justice Antonin Scalia for chief justice, members of liberal activists groups should be up in arms over Mr. Reid’s comment that Justice Clarence Thomas is an “embarrassment.” I can’t recall a more racist statement from a lawmaker, except one made by Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia. Even Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms and George Wallace in their heyday were not as blatant. I wonder when the “black folks” are gonna learn that the “white folks on the left” are really the racists in America.

MILDRED M. FISCHER

Fredericksburg, Va.

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