- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 25, 2000

Readers fire back at editorial on missile defense

Your Jan. 21 editorial, "Onwards with National Missile Defense," is rather like last Tuesday's missile-to-missile interceptor test. It's off the mark. Missile defense is very serious national security issue and not something to distort to suit your political views.

You claim that our international friends and allies, who live in rough neighborhoods, next to China, for instance, or at the epicenter of conflict in the Middle East, think missile defense is a terrific concept. However, you conveniently overlook the fact that our closest longstanding European allies in NATO do not support a national missile defense system and our allies in Europe are closer to many of the so-called rogue threats you describe.

Furthermore, our allies in Europe believe that tinkering with the ABM treaty will be a serious mistake affecting alliancewide security for years to come. It is interesting that our NATO allies were front and center when the Senate voted to expand the alliance. Now our friends have been conveniently forgotten.


Program Director

The Fourth Freedom Forum




Bravo Zulu (Navy slang for "job well done") on your editorial. While there was much joy in Pyongyang and Tehran last week over the disappointing failure of our missile-to-missile interceptor test, you were right on target with your continued support of our National Missile Defense (NMD) program.

In this era of rogue nations and their terrorist cohorts possessing weapons of mass destruction, I feel there is no other recourse for U.S. policy-makers than to proceed full speed ahead with additional missile-to-missile intercept tests. Tests designed to defend our family and friends from an enemy ballistic missile attack should not be treated any differently than an elementary school child retaking a test after receiving a failing grade the first time around. Try, try, try again should be the watchword for our NMD program.



Columnists shouldn't downplay the seriousness of mental illness

Jackie Mason and Raoul Felder show their Hollywood perspective in both their view of the world gone mad and their negative stereotypes of psychiatry ("Off to the Shrink," Op-ed, Jan. 21). However, as a physician with a Los Angeles-based practice in psychiatric medicine, I and my psychiatric colleagues find their perspective and stereotypes far off the mark. Our patients suffer from significant mental illnesses and reflect the epidemiological facts of these illnesses: In any given year, 9.5 percent of the American population suffers from a form of depression; 12.6 percent severe anxiety; and an additional 5.5 percent from other painful mental disorders including schizophrenia and severe cognitive impairment.

Unfortunately, this sort of subtle slander from supposedly educated and intelligent persons such as Messrs. Mason and Felder is more offensive and dangerous to our society than from an individual such as John Rocker who openly calls himself a redneck. Perhaps Messrs. Mason and Felder should also be more open and admit that although they are not baseball fans, they are charter members with John Rocker in a fan club for misanthropy.



American Psychiatric Association

Los Angeles

Appointed school board threatens democracy in District of Columbia

Regarding the Jan. 21 column by Jonetta Rose Barras ("Education in chains," Op-ed), here we go again. How long must residents of the District of Columbia and the greater metropolitan area be told over and over again by your op-ed pages that democracy is too good for people of color? How long must we be informed that minorities do not have the ability to elect officials in this case, school board members who will serve their best interests and that we must install individuals to run their affairs, thereby giving them absolute power to hire and fire and establish educational policy? How long must we be bombarded with proposals and recommendations by reporters promoting such strong-man tactics.

Never do you read of failing majority white schools being issued such recommendations. Where else besides the District do we read or hear that elected officials thwarted democracy in the United States?

In fact, in these very pages we are told that officials in South Carolina have a right to fly the Confederate flag as a solemn symbol representing the bravery and courage of men who gave their lives that no black man would ever have rights a white man need respect. Did we read of Congress asking President Clinton to call out the National Guard to bring the South Carolinians to their senses?

But Miss Barras favors reducing democracy in the District to improve the education of blacks. What about the white student who cannot read and write software programs?

When will she learn that democracy may not be the best system but all others are worse. She should not promote serfdom under the guise of uplift.


Camp Springs, Md.

D.C. gun laws won't let citizens protect themselves from violence

As expected, the self-righteous politicians of the District of Columbia have joined other cities in suing gun manufacturers. ("District targets makers of guns," Jan. 21). As usual, they cite Medicare costs and violent deaths as the justification. Mayor Anthony A. Williams stated: "We're supposed to have the toughest gun prohibitions in the nation, and yet our streets are flooded with guns … Our best and brightest hopes for the future have been snuffed out by illegal guns that should have never been allowed to hit our streets." The politicians hope their rhetoric will hide their own culpability. They have systematically denied responsible citizens the right of self-defense.

Ironically, in his column appearing the day before, "No duty to protect," Kenneth Smith cites the infamous local case, Warren vs. District of Columbia. The column said in part: " . . two women who heard their roommate being assaulted downstairs called the police for help. The police came but left without entering the building. Again the women called, and this time the police didn't bother to dispatch anyone to the scene at all. The attackers, however, heard the women upstairs and assaulted them too … for 14 hours. No police came. The women sued the city, but the courts dismissed their claims saying it was a 'fundamental principle' that the government has 'no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any individual citizen.'"

The most effective defense most women have against physically stronger males is trained use of a handgun. The city denies the right of effective self-defense to its citizens, and the courts deny the city has an obligation to protect its citizens.

As a former resident of the city, when it passed its gun prohibition laws in 1976, I predicted that within a few years the city would have three classes of residents: the wealthy, who can afford private police protection and-or security (or have the taxpayer pay for it); the predators, who inhabit every city; and the prey, who live in fear. Since then, the city has repeatedly protected and enhanced the position of the predators at the expense of the prey.

Mr. Williams is right; the city is losing the best and the brightest but not because their lives are being snuffed out, but because they are fleeing a city that protects its predators. These former residents recognize the arrogant hypocrisy of the self-righteous politicians who blame someone else when their laws work contrary to what was claimed.



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