- The Washington Times - Friday, April 20, 2001

Reeve uses 'super power' irresponsibly

Allow me to make an addition to Bill OReillys list of Hollywood celebrities who use their "star power" to advocate public policy positions while being held less than accountable for their views ("Visions from the lofty star tower," Commentary, April 12).

Christopher Reeve, the actor best known as Superman, has become an ardent proponent of human embryonic stem cell research. Last April, he testified before Congress that the "true biological miracles" are not possible using ethically unobjectionable adult stem cells and, therefore, that research using human embryonic stem cells (which requires the deliberate destruction of a living human embryo) was an absolute necessity.

Yet in August, his own organization, the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, confirmed the amazing promise of adult stem cells when it announced a major breakthrough, in research it helped fund, with the potential (as it claimed) to treat Alzheimer´s disease, Parkinson´s disease and spinal cord injuries. The research was able to produce a "virtually limitless supply" of genetically compatible nerve cells for transplant, using a patient´s own adult bone marrow stem cells. Curiously, Mr. Reeve´s foundation submitted for publication news of this advance to a scientific journal some weeks before the actor´s congressional testimony on behalf of the foundation, in which he said adult stem cells simply couldn´t do what the foundation knew they could.

In addition to this breakthrough, adult stems have been used successfully in clinical trials to treat cartilage defects in children; restore vision to legally blind patients; and relieve systemic lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and severe combined immunodeficiency disease. Embryonic stem cells have no such track record of success. In fact, with all the advances in adult stem cell research, some researchers are beginning to speculate that embryonic stem cells may not be needed after all for medical progress.

Yet despite these advances in adult stem cell research. Mr. Reeve and other celebrities continue to use their "star power" in ways that result in misleading the public into thinking the destruction of embryonic human life somehow is required to treat disease. It´s not. I would add this to the list of subjects Mr. O´Reilly would like to question the stars about.


Communications director

The Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics


McVeigh report was objective journalism, not sensationalism

I take exception to comments made by Richard Vatz in his Commentary column criticizing ABC News recent "PrimeTime Thursday" hour about Timothy McVeigh ("From grisly terrorist to TV superstar," April 15).

As journalists, we couldn´t ignore the fact that the information McVeigh related to authors Dan Herbeck and Lou Michel about the Oklahoma City bombing was major news. We had an obligation to share this news with our viewers in a responsible, objective manner, to help us all better understand why and how McVeigh committed this horrific act. That said, I think you would be hard pressed to find someone who viewed McVeigh in a more positive light after watching our program.

We take great pride in the hundreds of hours of thorough research and smart reporting that went into this hourlong report.

As for who is scandalized by the book and who is not, the book and our report are about the criminal at the center of the greatest act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history. The subject itself may be distasteful, but it is important.


Executive producer, "PrimeTime Thursday"

ABC News

New York

Reducing immigration is not 'anti-immigrant'

In "American history refutes anti-immigrant arguments," Frank Sharry of the National Immigration Forum writes, "Hysteria about being overrun by immigrants like immigrants themselves comes in waves" (Letters, April 16).

However, Mr. Sharry seems to believe that the current record-breaking wave of mass immigration is the kind that never actually recedes.

Since immigration is by far the major reason the U.S. population now is growing at a faster rate than that of China, there are very good reasons for well-meaning people to advocate a timeout from mass immigration to allow the current wave to recede to moderate and traditional levels.

But Mr. Sharry labels these arguments with the intolerant-sounding "anti-immigrant." On his organization´s Web site, arguments for reduction are portrayed as part of a "harsh anti-immigrant climate," and the pejorative term "nativism" is used to describe criticism of current policy.

The immigration debate is important to the world, to our country and to our children. We would all be better served by a discussion free from inflammatory and irresponsible rhetoric. Advocating a reduction in immigration is no more "anti-immigrant" than family planning is "anti-child."


Executive director

Campaign for a Responsible U.S. Policy on Global Population

New York

A few more lessons of Columbine

John W. Whitehead wrote well regarding the "Lessons of Columbine," but he omitted one aspect which I know he believes: the banishment of God and moral values from the classroom (Op-Ed, April 18).

The Bible, prayer, and anything Christian has been banished from our public schools. Schools teach students that they evolved from slime and are no better than animals. Absolute standards do not exist. There is no God to whom our children believe that they are accountable. Why are we surprised when they act as they do?

Our founders predicted social chaos if Christianity was removed from schools. John Adams said, "Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."


Nampa, Idaho

While the points made by John W. Whitehead in "Lessons of Columbine" are certainly valid and are worth pursuing, he has left out a lesson that comes well before that of treating all children with respect.

Our entire culture has changed, regrettably, and needs sorely to be set back on the right track. Children (the younger, the better) must learn to respect their elders, whether that means parents, teachers, or anyone else. This kind of teaching by example will build a solid foundation for Mr. Whitehead´s other recommendations.


Harrisburg, N.C.

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