- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 17, 2001

Ashcroft attackers assail nations virtues

I used to believe that anti-Christian bigotry and persecution mainly occurred abroad. The virulent criticism aimed at Attorney General John Ashcroft, however, indicates that groundless malice and discrimination are substantial problems within our borders as well.
At a time when there is so much evil in the hearts of men and women, so much worship of all that is unholy, a number of individuals are voicing their offense at the fact that Mr. Ashcroft conducts a Bible study in his office every day. Hope, religiosity, piety, and all of the ideals which have helped to make our country great are now under attack.
It appears that the same element that sought to destroy Mr. Ashcroft during his confirmation hearings, having failed, now seek to smear his name by any means. It is time for the decent people of this nation to let those Mr. Ashcrofts attackers know that they are offensive, and that we will not stand by idly while they savage one of the finest individuals ever to serve the American people.

OREN M. SPIEGLER
Pittsburgh

Civilian casualties are tragic consequence of war

Chris Gallagher is dead on target in his May 16 Op-Ed column, "Religion vital to military life."
On July 3, 1988, my ship, USS Vincennes, was engaged in a running gun battle with seven Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps gunboats and a number of F-4 Phantom II fighter-bombers and other Iranian aircraft. During the course of the battle, another air contact was detected but could not be identified. That contact was shot down, and we subsequently learned that it had been a civilian airliner.
Like former Sen. Bob Kerrey, we had no intention of killing civilians their loss was a tragic byproduct of the greater obscenity known as armed conflict. The incident shook the crew members to our core (and continues to do so). As supply officer, I had the responsibility of writing the Logreq (logistics requirements) message in preparation for our arrival in Bahrain to await the review of our actions. One phrase that I included remains with me to this day: "Request all available chaplains meet ship upon arrival."

LT. CMDR. M.C. AGRESTI
U.S. Navy (retired)
Arlington

Foggy federal logic

Your front-page story "Regions road funds hinge on air" informs us that increased traffic congestion has worsened our air quality (May 15). Consequently, the federal government will cut funding for both highway and transit projects in the region.
It is time to end this insanity and get the federal government out of both the transportation and air quality management business. Clearly, the states and localities would know that shutting down needed transportation projects will result in more pollution, not less.

ALI F. SEVIN
Ft. Washington, Md.

Palestinian media incitements to violence unparalleled in Israel

A headline in your May 15 World section reads, "Press pushes anger to violence by both Muslims and Jews," but the article contains not one example of incitement to violence in the Israeli press. Maybe that is because there are none. Instead, comments by Israeli "Cabinet ministers" describe possible retaliation against what you call "Palestinian neighborhoods where gunmen are shooting at Israel." If someone were shooting at you, you surely would want your government to discuss what to do about it.
Palestinian media, however, are full of incitement, hatred and encouragement for children to participate in "battle." On May 13, NBC Nightly News showed clips of Palestinian TV commercials telling children, "Drop your toys. Pick up rocks." Another showed a boy killed in the violence, now in Paradise, telling his classmates to "follow him."
A coalition of American pediatricians DOCS (Doctors Opposed to Child Sacrifice) condemned the incitement of children to violence by Palestinian authorities. Dr. Pejman Salimpour said, "Adults, governments and media outlets that encourage young children to participate in violence to further their own political agenda are practicing a form of societal child abuse."
There is, mercifully, no parallel in the Israeli press, or in Israeli society.

SHOSHANA BRYEN
Silver Spring

Unjust drug laws send wrong message to kids

Opponents of medical marijuana often argue that "it would be sending the wrong message to the children." I believe, however, that by keeping marijuana a Schedule 1 controlled substance, the federal government is sending the wrong message to my 14-year-old daughter ("Medical pot use defense rejected," May 15).
Our daughters Sunday school teacher, a close family friend, contracted HIV through a blood transfusion in 1982. It was diagnosed more than a decade later, and AIDS eventually caught up with her. The side effects of the medications she took forced her to stop teaching. She couldnt eat and was being fed through a tube. She wasted away and looked like a skeleton. After visiting her, my daughter had nightmares.
In January 1997, Californias Compassionate Use Act, Proposition 215, went into effect, and we encouraged our friend to try cannabis, because she clearly qualified to use it. As a Sunday school teacher, she thought it would send the wrong message to her students. We finally persuaded her to try it and keep it private. Within weeks, she was eating voraciously. She was out and about, enjoying herself. She returned to the classroom.
Our young daughter saw the transformation. This unique medicine gave our friend two more years of life. In May 1999, our friend died from a ruptured pancreas, a result of the highly toxic AIDS medications she took.
My daughter fully understands that Congress has made possession of marijuana a federal crime. I recently asked her whether the mixed messages confused her and how she could reconcile the governments stance with her own experience. "No, Im not confused," she said. "Theyre just stupid."
I want the next generation to be able to respect our government. Unfortunately, my daughter recognizes that it stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the medical benefits of marijuana, and she can see through the disinformation campaign used to support that position. That sends her the wrong message.

MALCOLM MENGED
Palo Alto, Calif.


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