- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 6, 2001

Pennsylvania Avenue needs reopening, not study

One would have to look hard to find a bigger supporter of President Bush than me. However, that does not mean I will not criticize him when circumstances warrant. My first opportunity presented itself after I read your March 2 story "Panel begins 4-month study on reopening Pennsylvania", which reported that a commission is reviewing the prospect of reopening Pennsylvania Avenue to traffic and will report back to the president in four months. This makes the prospect of the avenue's reopening dim. Commissions, we all know, are graveyards for issues perceived as too hot to handle.

There is no need for such a commission. Mr. Bush has the authority simply to order the reopening, and the Secret Service is the only possible objector. If Mr. Bush cannot deliver on a campaign pledge that does not require Congress, how will he ever get anything through Congress, whose guard towers are being manned by Democratic marksmen?

Mr. Bush missed a wonderful opportunity to be decisive. However, it is not too late for him to dismantle the commission and order the immediate reopening of Pennsylvania Avenue.

STEVE A. BROWN

Springfield

Tax dollars shouldn't be used to bash religion

Once again, those who champion the separation of church and state are mysteriously silent regarding the abuse of church by the state. I refer specifically to the Brooklyn Museum of Art's display of a photo of a nude woman with outstretched arms in the traditional place of Jesus Christ at the Last Supper. This is the same institution that last year displayed a painting of the Virgin Mary dappled with X-rated pictures and elephant dung.

Just suppose the Brooklyn Museum of Art displayed a painting of a smiling Ku Klux Klansman relieving himself on the grave of Martin Luther King. The uproar would be deafening. But Catholic-bashing, it seems, is not only constitutionally protected, but taxpayer-funded.

The same people who defend the Brooklyn Museum of Art have warned that the president's initiative to help faith-based institutions service the needs of the hungry, the homeless, the illiterate and those ravaged by substance abuse is a dangerous use of taxpayer funds. The same has been said of school vouchers. Tax dollars, we have been told, should not benefit religious institutions. At the same time, we're told it's OK to use taxpayer dollars to bash religion.

To institutions such as the Brooklyn Museum of Art which twice in the past two years has featured works intentionally offensive to Catholics there is no such thing as offensive art. Indeed, its officials insist that any criticism of "art" as offensive to religious or traditional values is a threat to the First Amendment. But nobody is proposing to do away with such in-your-face trash, just the tax subsidies that make some of it possible.

Three years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in an 8-1 vote a 1990 statute passed by Congress imposing a decency filter on the National Endowment for the Arts, requiring the taxpayer-funded entity to take "into consideration general standards of decency and respect for the diverse beliefs and values of the American public." Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia wrote that "avant-garde artistes … remain entirely free to epater les bourgeois [shock the middle class]; they are merely deprived of the additional satisfaction of having the bourgeoisie taxed to pay for it."

Amen.

DANIEL JOHN SOBIESKI

Chicago

Japan should accept apologies for submarine accident

It's understandable that the Japanese people expected an apology for the sinking of the training trawler Ehime Maru by the USS Greeneville. As was reported in The Washington Times last week, apologies carry huge significance for them ("Admiral delivers apology from U.S.," Feb. 28).

After Adm. William J. Fallon hand-delivered a letter of apology from President Bush to Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, the families of those who were lost during this incident said they expected personal apologies from Cmdr. Scott Waddle, the captain of the Greeneville, in which he would express a sense of shame. Cmdr. Waddle already had acknowledged in a letter to Mr. Mori that his actions had caused "unimaginable grief" to the Japanese people.

On learning of the importance the Japanese people place on such personal apologies, Cmdr. Waddle wept openly as he apologized repeatedly while handing over to a high-level official of the Japanese Foreign Ministry 13 letters of apology addressed to the families of the missing and to others.

Though the sinking of the Japanese training vessel, which resulted in the loss of nine lives, was tragic, it nevertheless was an accident.

An apology once was made to the people of the United States by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama on behalf of the Emperor of Japan and the Japanese people. It was delivered Aug. 20, 1995 more than a half-century after an occurrence that was not an accident: the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor early on a Sunday morning in 1941 while most of the military personnel stationed there were on liberty.

Beginning at 7:55, just in time for morning colors, 19 of our ships were sunk or damaged, and there were more than 2,300 fatalities in a failed attempt to cripple or destroy our Pacific fleet as quickly as possible.

In his 1995 statement, Mr. Murayama told his people, " … it is now time [for the people of Japan] to bear the unbearable."

I felt then, as I do now, that that statement was a bit late to be taken seriously, and I now feel that it failed to express the "sense of shame" that is expected from Mr. Waddle. It rings more of discomfort at being expected to admit guilt than of anything else.

Regret, anguish and remorse are emotions that come about naturally as a result of a dreadful but inadvertent event. I am sure from his recent statements that Cmdr. Waddle felt them: "I called out to God, 'Please save them.' … When I saw the Ehime Maru through the periscope, after we hit, a part of me died."

Shame, on the other hand, should be reserved for, among other things, malice aforethought.

A slick of oil still marks the location of the Battleship Arizona.

WILLIAM JAMES RICHARDSON

Virginia Beach

Je ne me souviens pas

Louise Beaudoin, Quebec's minister responsible for the charter of the French language, used the Battle of Waterloo to make her point that, while armies die or surrender, languages do not ("Quebec's quest for sovereignty lives on," Letters, March 4). It seems she could not bring herself to use the best example, given her subject: the Battle of Quebec. On the Plains of Abraham in 1759, the French lost to the British in the decisive battle of the French and Indian War, and the Canadian language war started.

I thought Quebecois never forget. "Je me souviens, " their auto tags read.

EDWARD F. RODRIGUEZ JR.

Fairfax


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