- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Defend the flag

Riddle me this, Larry Korb, opponent of a flag-protection constitutional amendment (“Flag desecration fissure,” Commentary, yesterday). What do libel, slander, child pornography and the desecration of the U.S. flag have in common?

Answer: They are all expressive acts not enumerated in the First Amendment. What is dissimilar about flag desecration is that it is legal. Further, since the Supreme Court legalized it by a 5-4 ruling in 1989, 50 state legislatures have petitioned Congress to send them a flag-protection constitutional amendment for ratification. The House passed the amendment five times, while no other amendment has come close to passage. If the high court allowed 48 state bans on flag desecration to be re-validated by a federal law, instead of a constitutional amendment, then such a law would have been enacted in 1990.

Two broad observations: Foolhardy is the notion that the people and the states are always wrong, but the courts, which gave us “separate but equal” and forced busing, are always right. Anathema to good government is the belief that dissent is noble, no matter the form, and that the people’s exercise of their Article V rights is inherently misguided. Let’s get back to basics: The law should reflect the values of the people. A flag-protection constitutional amendment is supported by the people — all 50 state legislatures in fact — not just many veterans.

STEVE THOMAS

Germantown

Missing the mark

The U.S. Supreme Court has once again missed the mark with its application of habeas corpus to imprisoned enemy combatants (“Court allows due process for Guantanamo prisoners,” Page 1, yesterday). Instead of worrying about Uncle Sam taking away our liberties, we should worry about the terrorists taking away our lives.

Our Founding Fathers hadn’t heard of terrorism. They never knew of planes flown into buildings. They had no concept of suicide bombers.

Intellectuals had better wake up and realize that the Constitution cannot be applied the way it was 200-plus years ago.

Drastic terrorism needs to be met with drastic laws and suitable Supreme Court decisions.

We should not prevent our government from protecting us — its No. 1 responsibility.

STEPHEN P. BURKE

Gonic, N.H.

Simulated sovereignty

“Iraq is sovereign once more,” blare the cable news channels. “The Iraqi people have their country back,” says President Bush (“U.S. hands over power in Iraq,” Page 1, yesterday). But, as is typical with the Bush administration, it’s just another photo-op with a lot of show and little substance, motivated by politics, and the right-wing media in this country dutifully plays along as if it were important.

Not much has changed. Mr. Bush’s war is over only on paper, not coincidentally just in time for the presidential election. In reality, we’ll still be spending many billions of tax dollars, and our troops will still be fighting and dying over there for a long time to come. The ghastly mess Mr. Bush created will be haunting our country for many, many years.

“The Iraqi people have their country back” sounds to me like “the check’s in the mail.” I’ll believe it when I see it.

ALAN L. LIGHT

Iowa City, Iowa

War of ideas?

Walter Williams’ characterization of our fight against terrorism was grossly simplistic and bordered on hysterical alarmism (“Will the West survive?” Commentary, Monday). Like most counterrevolutionary struggles, this war against terrorism is one of political primacy with a nuance-filled war of ideas at its core. As such, the information component of our campaign and its associated effects on perceptions of legitimacy are critical to winning.

There is no place in this highly sophisticated game of three-dimensional chess for frantic suggestions of a global war of attrition against the world’s Muslim population. Even so, how would one suggest we employ military force against a loose affiliation of nonstate actors, with a Gen. Sherman-like march to the sea through the Middle East? Beyond the blatant impracticality, “Kill ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out” may appear emotionally satisfying in the near term but prove unequivocally counterproductive to the protracted fight. The application of military power is a supporting effort to the larger strategy of defeating the terrorists, but military force alone will not solve this.

We must decouple the greater Islamic world from the extremist terrorist ideology by underscoring the illegitimacy of the terrorists’ words and deeds, rather than push the two closer with reciprocal inflammatory rhetoric. The West will survive and ultimately prevail by sticking to the ideals, values and principles that made us great, while allowing the hollow terrorist ideology to demonstrate its bankruptcy to the world.

SCOTT A. MORRISON

Warrenton, Va.

Kudos to Walter Williams for saying the truth: Islam is waging war against the West. Acknowledgment of this truth is essential if the West is to prevail, because we can’t win a war if we refuse to define our enemy. A vague, politically correct appellation, “war on terror,” focuses on the methods, not the actors.

Our enemies are indisputably Muslim — fanatical, bloodthirsty jihadists. And while not every Muslim is a jihadist, Muslim support for anti-Western violence is widespread. As Mr. Williams points out, when Westerners are murdered, we see and hear more celebration than condemnation in the Muslim world.

In this arena, America is well-served by the example of Israel, which has had to combat Arab and Islamic terror for its entire 56-year existence. The murdered victims in the 1972 Summer Olympics to which Mr. Williams referred were Israelis. Israel’s reaction was to hunt down and kill the perpetrators.

In recent years, during the so-called second intifada, Israel realized that it would die the death of a thousand cuts if Islamic terrorists continued to murder its citizens in restaurants, stores and their homes. So it took the battle to the enemy, killing Islamist terrorist leaders, destroying the terrorist infrastructure and — despite howls of protest from Europe (and, alas, America, too) — keeping the old terrorist thug confined to his quarters. In short, Israel instilled fear in the hearts of its enemies — and has now embarked on the construction of a barrier to further facilitate the security of its people.

Israel’s efforts take an immense amount of national will. Mr. Williams asks, “Will the West survive?” but the real question is whether the West has the will to survive. A crucial first answer occurs in November, when Americans decide who is best qualified to serve as commander in chief in this war. Sen. John Kerry has consistently adopted the most egregious positions against combating the last great global evil,communism,and proclaims his faith in the United Nations and “old” Europe, which have steadfastly maintained their positions on the sidelines. On the other hand, President Bush has resolutely taken the fight to the fascist-style strongholds in Afghanistan and Iraq.

SAMUEL R. LEWIS

Oak Hill, Va.

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