- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 2, 2005

Taiwan devoted to peace

Justin Logan’s claim that Taiwan views American military support in a conflict with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as a given (“Taiwan’s turn,” Commentary, Monday) overlooks some fundamental facts. Taiwan is devoted to maintaining a peaceful coexistence with the PRC, and it is acutely aware of the consequences a conflict in the Taiwan Strait would have for all sides. Indeed, President Chen Shui-bian’s recent offer to sit down and talk unconditionally with the PRC government was made in the spirit of peace and mutual respect to ensure that such a conflict never comes to pass.

Taiwan and the United States have enjoyed a comprehensive and mutually beneficial relationship for more than 25 years under the auspices of the Taiwan Relations Act, a piece of legislation that Taiwan hardly sees as a “blank check” to create instability in the Strait. To the contrary, Taiwan is highly appreciative of the trust the United States has in the island’s determination to safeguard its democratic way of life, and is dedicated to making sure that trust is not in vain.

EDDY TSAI

Director

Press Division

Taipei Economic and Cultural

Representative Office

Washington

An unfair indictment

There are those who say House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s indictment by Ronnie Earle, the Democratic district attorney of Travis County, Texas (“A tough prosecutor ‘just doing my job,’ or a partisan ‘bully,’” Page 1, Thursday), couldn’t be politically motivated payback for pushing the Republican agenda and engineering the redrawing of Texas congressional districts in one of the reddest of the red states, which voted for George W. Bush twice, to bring congressional representation more in line with the popular vote.

After all, Mr. Earle has gone after Democrats as well. In the mid-1980s, he indicted Democratic state Attorney General Jim Mattox, a rival of his ally, Gov. Ann Richards, on bribery charges — bogus charges that resulted in a quick “not guilty.”

In 1993, he indicted Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, who had just been elected, on charges of misconduct and records tampering, charges so flimsy that he was forced to drop the case before it went to trial. Mr. Earle has a history of misusing his office as a political weapon.

This is payback for Mr. DeLay’s redistricting prowess, something Democrats made an art form. In 2003, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California praised the late Rep. Phil Burton of California for the very thing Democrats accuse Mr. DeLay of doing — using redistricting to increase their party’s representation at the opposition’s expense. Mr. Burton’s “true artistry was displayed when it came to redistricting,” Miss Pelosi effused. “One press account described it as ‘Phil Burton’s contribution to modern art.’ For almost three decades, he painted the political landscape of Californians in the House from his palette.”

Is drawing districts in grotesque shapes to ensure safe seats for minorities OK, but redrawing districts to reflect the popular vote a crime? The real sin of Mr. DeLay is that he’s not a Democrat.

DANIEL JOHN SOBIESKI

Chicago

Provocative art

After the removal of a work of religious art from the Tate Britain museum in London, a spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain said that sometimes presumptions are incorrectly made about what is acceptable to Muslims (“London museum pulls religious art,” World, Thursday). After reading a description of the work, “God is Great,” I’m not all that wild about his presentation of the Bible in the work either. How could the artist, John Latham, at 84 years old, not know exactly how his work would be received? I think he did know: “Tate Britain have shown cowardice over this,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the museum also said the removal of the art was because the work could not have been viewed as the artist intended; “as a commentary on the evolution of religious thought from an original state of nothingness — but instead as an overtly political act.” As Bertie Wooster might explain: Well — I mean to say — what?

Reporter Al Webb understated, “The case marked the latest in a series of disputes in Europe over religion in the arts.” How anyone in London, after the July 7 suicide/murder bombings there, could exhibit a work as provocative as this is beyond me. I think it is entirely possible that the day will come when serious consideration will be given to painting over Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling and Last Judgement — and something will definitely have to be done about his “David.”

Given the way Europe is changing, it’s not all that far-fetched.

WILLIAM RICHARDSON

Virginia Beach

Let’s tolerate all religious beliefs

I am writing in response to “Character education” (Culture, Friday) and I have a few questions that should be asked of Dartmouth, specifically, and the academic community generally: First, do you allow diversity of viewpoints on campus? Do you promote and encourage diversity or do you censor what kind of opinion is acceptable? Why is it that when a Muslim or Jew gives a speech, he can be honest about his religious perspective? It is hailed as open-minded to allow him to expose his religious beliefs. But when a speaker such as Noah Riner refers to Jesus as a positive role model and expresses his belief that He died for the sins of people, some self-righteous prude must always condemn it as “reprehensible and an abuse of power.” Hey, if we are going to tolerate religious beliefs — and we should — why don’t we actually tolerate religious beliefs?

I will close with this proposition: It is no tolerance of religion to expect people not to express their religion.

MICAH HARRIS

Washington

Pakistan and the Afghan border

Pakistan did not put forward the proposal of fencing sections of the long and porous border with Afghanistan to deflect criticism, as suggested by your editorial (“Pakistan’s wall of resistance,” Editorial, Wednesday).

Pakistan has taken several measuresandinitiatives against any misuse of its territory by the terrorists and extremists against Pakistan itself or a neighboring country. The fencing proposal is part of the series of these measures that include the deployment of more than 80,000 of our security forces and establishment of dozens of checkposts along the more than 1,400-mile Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Pakistan has lost a large number of security forces in the operations along this border.

The sole purpose behind the fencing proposal is to further strengthen the surveillance of the border in order to check the infiltration of terrorists and miscreantsfromandto Afghanistan.

Equally untenable is the allegation that Islamabad was “reluctant” to take action against extremists for fear of a political backlash. Pakistan’s efforts to curb sectarianism, militancy and extremism predate the September 11 terrorist attacks and are, first and foremost, part of the president’s agenda of internal reform. What is alleged in the editorial stands in sharp contrast to the opinion of the international community at large, including the U.S. leadership, which has lauded Pakistan’s role in the war on terror.

Pakistan strongly believes that U.S. assistance in efforts for the socioeconomic uplift of less-developed areas would be helpful in curbing militancy and extremism.

NADEEM HAIDER KIANI

Press Attache

Embassy of Pakistan

Washington

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