- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Religious freedom

Where do they come up with this stuff? In your article Tuesday concerning the flap in Los Angeles over the “backroom” deal to remove the cross from the county seal, Amanda Susskind, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, is quoted as saying, “Separation of church and state is a basic freedom in this country designed to minimize the sense of exclusion a member of a minority religion may feel.” (“Deal to drop cross from L.A. seal raises stir,” Nation).

There is not one shred of truth in this statement. Religious liberty is a basic freedom, not “separation of church and state.” Religious liberty allows individuals to worship as their personal beliefs guide them, or to not worship at all if they so choose. While providing the individual with freedom of religious conviction, religious liberty also prohibits the government from coercing or mandating a set of religious beliefs or type of worship.

Freedom is something exercised by people, not by governments. And this freedom has nothing to do with minimizing a “sense of exclusion a member of a minority religion may feel.” Religious liberty is not concerned with “feelings.” I imagine that I, with my Christian convictions, might feel a sense of exclusion if immersed in a faith system different from mine. It is not the function of “separation of church and state” to minimize my sense of exclusion, but it is the role of religious liberty to allow me to continue to believe and worship as I do without threat from others or the government.

The ADL statement sounded good, but if we start believing that stuff without thinking about what is really being said, we are in trouble.

JOHN G. DUMLER

Mechanicsville, Md.

‘Unprovoked’? Hardly

In Sunday’s editions, Rob Stegman’s letter to the editor, titled “Outrageous outrage,” needs correcting. The last line states, “Where’s [Republican National Committee Chairman Ed] Gillespie’s outrage at the unprovoked and unnecessary slaughter of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians?”

First, the war was not “unprovoked.” After Iraq lost the original Gulf war and was forcefully removed from Kuwait, Iraq quickly started violating its armistice agreement with the coalition forces. While U.S. and British aircraft flew over Iraq to enforce the no-fly zones, surface-to-air missiles were routinely fired at those aircraft. This alone gave the United States every right to resume the original conflict against Iraq and to forcibly remove the leadership that would not live up to its signed agreement. Yet after 17 U.N. resolutions and 13 years, some meekly still think that this was an unprovoked war. Add to that the recent discovery of the 155mm howitzer shell with binary agents made to release sarin — a weapon of mass destruction.

Second, as for the thousands of innocent Iraqis killed: No one with any facts could question the sheer care and precision with which we prosecuted this war to remove Saddam Hussein. The lives lost on both sides of the war are tragic, but Mr. Stegman’s logic is flawed. He’d have us not remove Saddam Hussein to prevent us from inflicting collateral damage so that the mass murderer could keep killing thousands every year. Huh? If only we had applied the same logic to Adolf Hitler.

Forget the D-Day invasion; too many lives on both sides would have been lost for Mr. Stegman. Let’s ignore the greater good. Instead of 6 million Jews, how many more would have been killed?

SERGE WING

Alexandria

Some of us had the privilege of knowing President Reagan personally. It was a lifetime blessing. More of us watched him serve us with grace and dignity, and that was a rarity in modern political life. It was we who were graced by that ride through history.

We saw courage, wit and wisdom combine with his powerful personal philosophy that freedom gave power, and he called upon energized people and even governments to grant it, embrace it and live with it. The rest of the world inherited more than it could have ever expected, let alone dreamed of, out of the time he served. He came to power surrounded by elite skepticism, and he motored happily on and succeeded where none thought he could.

Ronald Reagan is not one man’s — no, not even one country’s — legacy. He, almost unbeknownst to us at the time, became the world’s great legacy at the end of a century of tyranny, bloodshed and nuclear terror. Literally millions of people are more secure and more free, and face brighter, safer futures because of one great man who believed in God and had faith in people and the absolute courage of his convictions.

Imagine the world had he not been with us. Then give thanks that this great man come our way when all the world needed him. Thank you, Ronald Reagan. All of us are in your debt. Rest in peace.

MALCOLM WALLOP

Chairman

Frontiers of Freedom

Former U.S. senator

Arlington

Reimportation reasoning

Perhaps it’s time to check the expiration date on some of your editorials. Contrary to the accusations made in your Saturday editorial “Reasons against reimportation,” Canada does not “[blackmail] U.S. corporations into selling products at low cost by threatening to accept foreign knockoffs if they don’t.” The editorial is referring to “compulsory licensing,” a practice that Canada eliminated in 1987. Drug companies that do not want to sell their pharmaceuticals in Canada are certainly free not to. Overwhelmingly, though, they choose to operate — profitably — in Canada.

Since 1991, Canada has offered one of the strongest intellectual-property regimes for pharmaceuticals, with levels of protection nearly identical to those accorded to patent holders in the United States.

BERNARD ETZINGER

Spokesman

Canadian Embassy

Washington

On Saturday, you wrote, “[W]e remain convinced that drug reimportation is bad for the future health of Americans.” To the contrary, reimportation could be healthy for Americans, the American economy and even the major drug companies.

Reimportation means bringing back into this country drugs already approved by the Food and Drug Administration but sold in other countries, such as Canada, at prices well below the American market’s. Reimportation attacks the pricing strategy, in a constructive way, that the major drug companies appear to follow. It appears that drug companies calculate the payback required to support the development of a new drug primarily on sales in the U.S. market. Once the initial capital investment in the production of a new drug is recouped, however, the marginal cost of making additional doses can be measured in pennies. Thus, the profit margin on additional sales, to Canada for example, can be quite high despite the discount required by the foreign purchaser.

Reimportation would require the drug industry to reconsider its pricing, with the likely result that drug prices in the United States and abroad will over time come much closer to each other. It will reduce drug prices to Americans (and U.S. taxpayers) while in all likelihood raising prices for foreign governments, who are usually no less concerned than Americans about the quality of the drugs they purchase. This shift can be a good thing for the drug industry, which is under such fierce attack for its current pricing strategy that it must reasonably fear the specter of price controls.

ANDREW HAMILTON

Washington

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