- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 27, 2001

Talking trash about plastics

Thank you for your Oct. 25 story, "Waste not, want not" on the recyclability of plastics. You should also know that the capacity for recycling plastic bottles is about twice the supply.

Check with your local community recycling operation, but the demand for recycled plastic bottles remains high in most areas. So when you use water bottles, resealable soft-drink bottles or convenient juice drink-size bottles, remind your friends and family to put them back into the recycling bin.

What's a plastic bottle? Generally it is any plastic container with a neck smaller than the base, or with a screw top. You'll be doing some good and creating new fleece sportswear, recycled plastic lumber decks and playgrounds, jackets, vests, shirts, shoes, office supplies, cups, Frisbees well, you get the idea.


Director, communications

American Plastics Council


Allen governorship no model for reducing crime

You state in your Oct. 25 editorial, "Warner runs from crime record," that crime in Virginia dropped in the 1990s due to then-Gov. George Allen's anti-parole and prison-building policies. Would you say that crime nationwide dropped even more due to President Clinton's anti-crime policies? Or that crime dropped in Washington because the city got "tough on crime"?

According to the FBI, Virginia's violent crime rate dropped between 1993 and 1998 by 12.5 percent. During the same period of time, violent crime in Maryland dropped by more than 20 percent; such crimes in the District dropped by more than 35 percent. Nationwide, violent crime dropped by more than 24 percent.

Mr. Allen's policies led directly to the reduction in Virginia's violent crime? One could just as easily, and speciously, argue that those policies caused Virginia to lag behind the nation in crime reduction.

Here are a couple of facts: There is less violent crime, per capita, in Virginia than in the country overall, a condition that has persisted through Republican and Democratic administrations for more than 30 years. Crime tends to decrease as economic prosperity grows.

The 1990s were a time of unprecedented economic prosperity, so it only follows that crime would decrease. The rates of reduction among the states were correlated to the crime rates: The higher the crime rate in 1993, the more the rate declined by 1998. So the rate of crime in a low-crime state such as Virginia decreased less than the rates in states with higher crime rates.

The reduction in Virginia's violent crime rates had little to do with Mr. Allen's policies. Just as you often point out how fortunate Mr. Clinton was to be president during a time of economic expansion, so should you admit that Mr. Allen was similarly lucky.



One Nation under God

Someone on your staff needs to re-read the Pledge of Allegiance ("God makes a comeback in classrooms," Oct. 20). There is no comma between "one Nation" and "under God":

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."


Fort Worth, Texas

U.S. treatment of Northern Alliance reminiscent of Bay of Pigs

In his Oct 26 column, "When a terrorist is just another patriot," Wesley Pruden correctly concludes that Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's views on how to conduct the war often contrast with those of our president. I agree and hasten to add that Mr. Powell's ill-advised foreign policy ventures are downright dangerous for our allies, not only in Israel but also the Northern Alliance forces in Afghanistan that are fighting our war for us.

U.S. and allied support of the Afghan rebels is at best sporadic and dangerously reminiscent of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. History tells us that in that ill-fated attempt to overthrow dictator Fidel Castro, we betrayed our brave allies the Cuban freedom fighters and patriots by suddenly withdrawing air support for the mission, an action that led to the massacre and capture of the all-Cuban force.

Sad to say, under Mr. Powell's august auspices, the same pattern of support/nonsupport now manifests itself in Afghanistan, where our stalwart but, alas, miserably equipped freedom-fighting Northern Alliance patriots struggle to keep their positions and are now even pushed back from them. Yesterday, their commander was captured and killed by the Taliban while desperately calling a U.S. gunship for much-needed air support. We have betrayed them in much the same way we have betrayed Israeli and Cuban patriots.

What will it take to convince our diplomats and especially Mr. Powell that pushing political solutions ahead of judicious military action costs lives and does not win wars?


Palm Beach, Fla.

Hidden agenda in 'Dark Ages' column

In her Oct. 26 Op-Ed column, "Islam is in Dark Ages," Diana West attacks Islam by paraphrasing a self-proclaimed expert, Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum. Mrs. West says, "The experts tell us militant Islamic fundamentalists, or 'Islamists,' represent a narrow, if murderous, fringe. They number no more than 10, maybe 15, percent of all Muslims. That works out to somewhere between 100 million and 150 million people. Which is a lot of murderous fringe." These are Mr. Pipes' estimates, which he often cites in his newspaper opinion columns.

Had Mrs. West reasoned well, she would have seen the apparent and obvious fear and hatred of Muslims in Mr. Pipes' analysis. He has a history of attacking Muslims and Islam, but not for humanitarian reasons. Mr. Pipes has a hidden political agenda.

Mr. Pipes is a die-hard supporter of Israel, and he fears that a strong, politically active Muslim community in the United States may challenge the uncritical and unconditional support for Israel.

If he can cause the American public to fear Muslims, he will succeed in marginalizing them and delegitimizing the major Muslim organizations and their leaders. Hence, Mr. Pipes would score big for Israel.

In a time when Americans need healing and emotional recovery, such wild fear and hate-mongering should be condemned strongly, loudly and specifically. It is most unfortunate that Mrs. West fell for this self-serving expert's trap.


Communications director

Islamic Resource Group

Crystal, Minn.

Islam not at fault for 'fundamentalism'

I couldn't agree more with your columnist Diana West that, if Islam is the "religion of peace" our government particularly the executive branch has fallen all over itself to proclaim it is, then it is reasonable to expect its leadership to be far more condemning of terrorism conducted in the name of Islam ("Islam is in Dark Ages," Op-Ed, Oct. 26).

Reality seems to fly in the face of the "official position" in Washington. To begin questioning how devoted to peace with the "infidel" the average Muslim is encouraged to be, one need only review the sermons preached in many mosques recently.

That being said, I found most interesting Mrs. West's equating of "mainstream Islam" with the "most extreme form of biblical fundamentalism" because it remains devoted to the Koran as the "immutable word of God."

I am assuming extreme biblical fundamentalism commits a "crime" in Mrs. West's eyes because it sees the Bible as the inerrant word of God. That Muslims hold that the Koran is the word of God should not be a basis of criticism, any more than the belief held by millions of Christians from Baptists to Presbyterians that the Bible is the word of God should be criticized.

Frankly, as a Christian, I can respect that Muslims profess to base their lives on what they believe is the infallible word of God. By what logic can one claim to be a Muslim or a Christian and not believe that the book from which his belief flows is absolutely true and of divine origin?

Clearly, the government must more critically review the religion, beliefs and motives of the Muslim world than it has to date. But it is illogical and unreasonable to begin that critical review by criticizing Islam's belief that its foundational document is actually the truth.

If I, as one who claims to be a Christian, reject the Bible as the true, infallible word of God, then why believe at all?


Webster Groves, Mo.

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