- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 20, 2001

Undermining the shah aided radical Islam

We have read a lot recently about Muslim hatred for the United States. While S. Rob Sobhani's Oct. 16 Op-Ed column, "Khomeini's curse: One man's perversion of Islam," attaches the current hatred to the right source, it fails to mention the Carter administration's role in this.
As I have watched events unfold, it has also been amazing to me that nobody seems to remember Ramsey Clark's famous visit to the Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini in France and all the gushing statements about how the ayatollah was going to be so wonderful for Iran. As The Washington Times has pointed out recently Mr. Clark is still involved in activities that are not in our country's best interests, such as the current "peace at any cost" demonstrations.
The shah of Iran was a friend of the West and was trying to modernize his country. In judging his rule by our standards and interfering in Iranian domestic politics, the Carter administration did its part to bring him down. It helped start the terrible activities for which we are now paying the price.

Birmingham, Ala.

Column misrepresents teach-in as 'failure'

In response to Diana West's Oct. 12 Op-Ed column, "Pacifism on campus," I wish to correct her egregious misrepresentation of the recent walkout/teach-in at Wesleyan University. Mrs. West writes that, "Problem was, the students were unable to muster enough concern for the Taliban (voiced or not) for a scheduled march through the Connecticut campus. It was canceled."
As a participant in the walkout/teach-in and someone who was present at the meetings when it was planned I wondered what she could possibly be talking about. The walkout/teach-in was a huge success and one of the most impressive displays of activism, education and campus unity that I have seen. It was amazing to see students and faculty come together.
The "canceled" march that your Op-Ed column mistakenly referenced was actually a simple change in logistics. Because it was a very cold morning, we decided instead to just announce the teach-ins outside at the campus center, where hundreds of students were already gathered. This was following a morning of performances and speeches by students inside the campus center and an event in which each student present went up to the microphone outside of the campus center, and said, "My name is ____, and I do not support this war."
To falsely report a change in logistics as a sign of failure is unfathomable to me. I pray that, in the future, you take the time to check the details of your stories so that you do not report more falsehoods.

New York

'It is time to end marijuana prohibition'

Republican Sens. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa and Jon Kyl of Arizona pose the question: What would America look like if we integrated harm-reduction strategies into U.S. drug policy? ("Don't forfeit war on drugs," Oct. 12.) The truth is that we already have first-hand experience with a prominent component of harm reduction marijuana decriminalization and it has been overwhelmingly positive.
Decriminalization removes the consumer the marijuana smoker from the criminal justice system, while maintaining criminal penalties against those who sell or traffic large quantities of the drug. In 1972, President Richard Nixon's National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse recommended that Congress adopt this policy nationally in the United States.
Since 1973, 12 state legislatures including Nevada this year have enacted versions of marijuana decriminalization. In each of these states, marijuana smokers no longer face jail time for the possession or use of minor amounts of marijuana, a position backed by a majority of the American public according to nationwide polls. Oregon voters recently reaffirmed their policy by a 2-1 margin in a statewide referendum.
Contrary to allegations made by Mr. Grassley and Mr. Kyl that those who favor drug-law reform are hiding their agenda, we at the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) have always been clear about our aim: to stop the arrest of responsible adult marijuana smokers.
Enforcing marijuana prohibition costs taxpayers an estimated $10 billion annually arresting and prosecuting more than 700,000 individuals per year, including patients who require marijuana as a medicine. This is a tremendous waste of national and state criminal-justice resources, which should be focused on combating serious and violent crime, including terrorism.
In addition, prohibition inappropriately invites government into areas of citizens' private lives, and needlessly damages the lives and careers of hundreds of thousands of otherwise law-abiding citizens each year.
NORML urges the Senate Judiciary Committee to scrutinize drug czar nominee John Walter's past record and question the emphasis he will place upon marijuana-law enforcement in relation to more significant drug offenses.
After more than 60 years of a failed and destructive policy, it is time to end marijuana prohibition.


Editors note: Keith Stroup is the executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) in Washington. Paul Armentano is NORML's senior policy analyst.

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