- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 31, 2007

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Where is the contrition?

The letter “ ’Hatred’ against Muslims” on Saturday from Naiem A. Sherbiny, Saad E. Ibrahim and Charles E. Butterworth regarding the Oct. 12 Inside the Ring column glosses over an important point with respect to U.S. public opinion toward Muslims: the lack of contrition.

In the name of Islam, radical Muslims fly planes into buildings, videotape beheadings for prime-time television and attempt to recruit 6-year-old boys to be suicide bombers with nary a word of condemnation. Contrast that with violent global riots sparked by cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. Until Muslims come to grips with the failed nature of their religion, the term “religion of peace” is nothing but a marketing slogan.

BILL KING

Baltimore

Fighting words

Fairfax County voters may wonder what state Sen. Kennneth T. Cuccinelli has in common with dogfighter Michael Vick. The answer is that Mr. Cuccinelli supports animal fighting in Virginia (“Trick or treat,” Metropolitan, Monday).

Mr. Cuccinelli was one of only two senators who opposed legislation in February to toughen penalties for illegal cockfighting — placing two roosters into a pit, strapping razor-sharp knives to their legs, pumping them full of drugs to heighten aggression and forcing them to hack each other to death for entertainment and gambling profits.

Sheriffs and humane societies across Virginia supported a crackdown on illegal cockfighting. Mr. Cuccinelli, however, took an extreme position and sided with animal fighting interests. He sought to give cockfighters a free pass by keeping the commonwealth’s anti-cockfighting law one of the weakest in the country.

Mr. Cuccinelli is soft on crime, but hard on animals. He is too extreme for Fairfax County.

MICHAEL MARKARIAN

President

Humane Society Legislative Fund

Washington

LOST will benefit U.S.

Contrary to Ed Feulner’s assertion (“They just don’t get LOST,” Commentary, Thursday), President Ronald Reagan declined to sign the Law of the Sea Convention in 1982 not because it would hurt American sovereignty, but because he objected to the treaty’s deep seabed provisions.

Mr. Reagan considered that “most provisions of the draft convention are acceptable and consistent with United States interests.” Far from “scuttling” the treaty, he directed U.S. officials to return to the negotiating table; he further declared that, if the problems with the deep seabed provisions could be rectified, “my administration will support ratification.” Through successful diplomacy, the United States achieved a subsequent agreement in 1994 that fixed all the problems identified by Mr. Reagan. On that basis, other major maritime powers that had also objected to the original deep seabed mining provisions, including Britain and Japan, joined the agreement and are now reaping its benefits.

Mr. Feulner is also wrong that “environmental activists” would be empowered to enforce the Kyoto Protocol against us. The U.S. would not be committed to implement Kyoto standards. Also, if another country were to bring such a claim (and nongovernmental activists could not), there would be no jurisdiction. Regarding marine pollution from land, the treaty includes very general obligations to limit such pollution; however, as we have explained to the Senate, it does not provide for dispute settlement unless there are specified international standards applicable to the U.S., which there are not. Finally, as a non-self-executing treaty, the agreement would not provide for any private rights of action in U.S. courts.

Mr. Feulner is right in one respect: People need to read the treaty. If they do, they will see the treaty’s enormous national security and economic advantages to the United States, including clear legal rights of navigation for our military through and over the world’s oceans and economic sovereign rights over the enormous oil, gas and other resources on the U.S. continental shelf in the Arctic, the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere. As Russia and other countries rush to stake their claims to Arctic resources, it would be folly for the Senate to follow Mr. Feulner’s advice and give up sovereign rights to this vast wealth.

JOHN B. BELLINGER III

Legal Adviser

Department of State

Washington

Oklahoma’s political statement

While Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry’s American Ethnic Advisory Council may be trying to advance cultural awareness in honor of the state’s centennial, the singular promotion of the Muslim faith by distributing personalized and state-seal-embossed Korans is an unusual choice for celebrating American values.

It is alarming that Mr. Henry is not more concerned with promoting a writing that is arguably more sacred to the Oklahoma legislators — the Bill of Rights.

The First Amendment provides that the government should not “respect an establishment of religion.” The 1971 Supreme Court ruling in Lemon v. Kurtzman held that government action must have a legitimate secular purpose, must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion and must not result in an excessive government entanglement with religion.

Other Supreme Court decisions have held that religious symbols are allowed on government property so long as the benefit to religion is incidental and the symbol is used to promote a secular agenda, such as displaying both a menorah and a creche to celebrate the secular winter holiday season.

The actions of the advisory council, with the approval and support of Oklahoma’s governor, show a blatant disregard for the separation of church and state, and are a slap in the face of the Supreme Court with regard to its decisions.

As Diana West’s compelling Op-Ed, (“The Islamicizing of Oklahoma,” Friday) indicates, the people of the Middle and Near East belong to many different faiths.

To be fair and incidentally in compliance with the Constitution, the advisory council would have done better by offering copies of the Bible and New Testament in addition to the Koran, to promote the secular notion of ethnic awareness of all the relevant faiths and not the endorsement of a particular religion.

The legislators’ option to decline the book places them in the awkward position of making a political statement they may not want to make and exposing them to unwanted scrutiny.

The media’s focus on the Oklahoma legislators’ rejection of a personalized Koran is grossly missing the point. It is not about rejecting Islam. It is about protecting the First Amendment.

Instead of demonizing those who choose not to accept a blatant example of government endorsement of religion, we should all celebrate our elected representatives’ choice to uphold the Constitution.

ELIZABETH SAMSON

Legacy heritage fellow

The David Project

New York City

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