- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 22, 2000

Similar looking flags represent contrasting governments

On the front page of your April 14 edition, the article "Elian's relatives in Miami win a stay" displays a photograph of a single, dominant Puerto Rican flag amid a backdrop of Cuban flags (and protesters). Even though the flags are similar, they represent two distinct forms of government and are not interchangeable.

The Puerto Rican flag represents a free commonwealth of the United States of America; the Cuban flag represents a country currently under communist rule. For this reason alone, the dominant image should have been a Cuban flag, since the protest is primarily by Cuban descendants, against Cuba.

For the sake of clarity and the benefit of those readers who failed to notice the misrepresentation of a Puerto Rican and Cuban national symbols, or are under the impression that these two distinct flags are one and the same, we provide a brief overview of each:

The Puerto Rican flag consists of three red and two white stripes. On the left of the flag is a single, white, five-pointed star resting in a blue triangle. The white star stands for the commonwealth of Puerto Rico while the three sides of the equilateral triangle represent the three branches of government (executive, legislative and judicial). The three red stripes symbolize the blood that feeds those parts of the government. The two white stripes symbolize human rights and individual freedom.

The Cuban flag consists of three blue and two white stripes. A single star represents the independence of the Republic of Cuba. The triangle represents ideals of the revolution liberty, equality and fraternity. The red color of the triangle is for the blood sacrificed by Cuban patriots. The three blue stripes represent the three departments into which the island was divided at the time of liberation, while the two white stripes represent purity and virtue.

This comes to you not in the spirit of criticism, but as an attempt to avoid confusion between these flags, which are so similar in appearance but represent such different ways of life, culture and beliefs. We, the American public, rely on the press to provide factual, unbiased insight into worldly events and issues. We feel that the photo in the aforementioned article fails to convey that philosophy.





Who should pay for the costly demonstrations?

I am a firm believer in freedom of speech. It is our constitutional right. I believe in demonstrating. I have done so but peaceably.

Who did these demonstrators think they were that they could disrupt an entire city for nearly a week and cause untold inconvenience to office workers, restaurateurs, etc., to say nothing of the more than $5 million that we as taxpayers probably will have to pay for the extra security, overtime and such things as the removal of post office boxes and newspaper stands in that part of the city. I am not even certain if all the demonstrators knew what they were demonstrating about. The groups that organized the demonstration should pay the $5 million bill.

Congratulations to the Metropolitan Police Department and Chief Charles H. Ramsey. They did a magnificent job.



Public sees through the smog put out by GAGs

I would like to take this opportunity to compliment The Washington Times on your April 19 editorial "Smog gets in their eyes."

As a writer and editor for a large Internet publication on off-road vehicles (www.Off-Road.com), I am highly disappointed by the overwhelming majority of media reports that have been influenced by the green advocacy groups (GAGs). I was pleasantly surprised by this editorial and would like to express my support for the decision to print something controversial but entirely truthful. I am sure that the environmental extremists will be upset, but the majority of the public is intelligent enough to see through the green smoke screen of the Environmental Protection Agency and see the truth.

Many people who own motorized vehicles have been passing around the editorial, and I am sure that many new people, including myself, will use The Times as a primary source of news from this point on. Please continue to be a leader in truthful reporting and resisting pressure from the GAGs.


Aracata, Calif.

Switching channels on commercials in the classroom

In his column defending Channel One, which injects commercial advertising into the nation's classrooms ("Taking aim at Channel One," Op-Ed, April 18), Daniel E. Troy shows that he has more faith in government than we do.

Mr. Troy thinks that government should be able to use the coercive arm of the state, in the form of compulsory school laws, to compel children to watch ads. We think the only justification for those laws is learning.

Mr. Troy thinks that government, allied with major corporations, should be able to use the schools to promote the values of consumerism and self-indulgence among the nation's children. We think that teaching values is a role for parents, not corporations.

An executive for Channel One told a trade audience that Channel One's biggest selling point to advertisers lies in "forcing kids to watch two minutes of commercials." We think motives like that have no place in the nation's schools, and suggest that Mr. Troy has some thinking to do.



Commercial Alert


This letter also was signed by Donald E. Wildmon, president of the American Family Association, and Jim Metrock, president of Obligation Inc.

Voters looking for a well-rounded president

Thomas Sowell's "Campaign smart talk" (Commentary, April 11) was right on the money about the future debates between Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore. It was also a nice little history lesson.

I think that a high IQ is generally overrated. What counts most in predicting success and achievement in politics is the whole personality, including character, judgment, sense of humor, common sense, integrity and courage. I would never vote for a candidate who has a high IQ but lacked these traits. I am hopeful that most American voters will vote for the most well-rounded person, not for one with a towering intellect but not enough of these vital character traits.

In the 20th century, the best and most effective presidents have all been intelligent and able to integrate that intelligence and other good traits into their personality. Emotional balance and temperament are important in a leader. Few would vote for somebody who tended to lose his temper easily. Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential slogan was "In your heart, you know he's right," but everyone remembers the retort of President Lyndon B. Johnson's staffers: "In your guts, you know he's nuts." This was one of the most effective sound bites of the century. Fortunately, President Reagan vindicated Mr. Goldwater's political philosophy during his two terms.


Silver Spring

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