- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Spacemen can read minds?

I did not know whether to laugh or be in shock after reading "NASA plans to read minds at airports" (Page 1, Saturday). As a neuroscientist, I think this idea sounds incredibly far-fetched based on our current, at least published, scientific knowledge of measuring and interpreting brain activity and how it relates to human behavior.
However, the fact that this program exists should raise serious concerns about the long-term motives of those who wish to impose such Orwellian measures on the citizens of our open and free society. Though I should not have to elaborate on why such ideas clearly undermine the very principles on which our great country was founded, I will remind readers that sacrificing our hard-won liberties for so-called "security" only gives victory to the terrorists in their war against freedom. To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, those who give away essential freedoms for temporary security will eventually lose both and deserve neither.

Tampa, Fla.

Forgotten facts of slavery reparations

How many times will this country be forced to pay reparations for slavery ("Rally backs slavery reparations," Nation, Sunday)? I would be curious to know how many of the marchers are aware that on March 3, 1865, Congress established the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, popularly referred to as the Freedmen's Bureau to oversee the transition from slavery to freedom. Section 4 of the Freedmen's Bureau's charter is long overdue for a deserved reprinting in the public record.
Section 4 established that the "commissioner, under the direction of the President, shall have authority to set apart, for the use of loyal refugees and freedmen, such tracts of land within the insurrectionary states as shall have been abandoned, or to which the United States shall have acquired title by confiscation or sale, or otherwise, and to every male citizen, whether refugee or freedman, as aforesaid, there shall be assigned not more than forty acres of such land, and the person to whom it was so assigned shall be protected in the use and enjoyment of the land for the term of three years at an annual rent not exceeding six per cent upon the value of such land, as it was appraised by the state authorities in the year eighteen hundred and sixty, for the purpose of taxation, and in case no such appraisal can be found, then the rental shall be based upon the estimated value of the land in said year, to be ascertained in such manner as the commissioner may by regulation prescribe. At the end of said term, or at any time during said term, the occupants of any parcels so assigned may purchase the land and receive such title thereto as the United States can convey, upon paying therefor the value of the land, as ascertained and fixed for the purpose of determining the annual rent aforesaid."
The Freedmen's Bureau, in short, was commissioned to transfer ownership of lands from their rightful owners to newly freed slaves in other words, reparations to former slaves. If students were taught about that in their history and civics classes, there might be less support for more reparations, and rightly so.


Historical amnesia and the Mideast

I am not sure I agree with Max Singer's contention that "so far there are no Arab democracies" ("What awaits Iraq after Saddam?" Commentary, Sunday). I thought Iran and Lebanon fit that description pretty well. (Israel, on the other hand, is not a real democracy. Rather, it is an oligarchy, as was the United States in the days of slavery and Jim Crow.)
In 1953, a popular uprising in Iran forced the shah into exile and instituted that country's first parliamentary democracy. It lasted only long enough for the CIA to organize and finance a countercoup that restored the shah. The rest, as they say, is history. If we find Iran's current democracy somewhat less than to our total liking, we Americans must accept a share of the responsibility.
Another example of some Americans' forgetfulness is evidenced in the moral indignation directed at Saddam Hussein's suppression of independence movements of Kurds and Shi'ites within Iraq. Didn't Abraham Lincoln use massive force against his own people residents of supposedly "free and sovereign" states when they tried to separate? (If you believe he did so to free the slaves, go read his first inaugural address.) Approximately half a million men died in the Civil War, many more deaths than those Saddam's suppressions incurred.


The Balkans' whipping boy

Columnist Georgie Anne Geyer's news "special" ("U.N. intervention too late," World, Aug. 11), does not fully inform readers about the Vukovar hospital and why Serbian forces acted with such wrath. For the rest of the story, we need to take a closer look at what transpired before the incident.
In late 1991, the Yugoslav army captured the city of Vukovar from Croatian forces who had been systematically massacring and ethnically cleansing the ethnic Serbian minority in the city. An article in the monthly journal Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy in December 1992 noted: "At least 1,000 Serbs, mostly women, old people and children, were shot, knifed, axed or bludgeoned to death systematically, one-by-one, in two main centres One visiting Croat female journalist, during the Vukovar fighting, unfamiliar with firearms, asked one of the young gunmen to cock a pistol for her so that she could feel what it was like to kill a Serb. She shot, indiscriminately, an old Serb woman who was standing under Croat guard."
In November 1991, the Toronto Star said that "a photographer reported seeing black plastic bags containing pieces of the bodies of children about 5, 6, or 7 years old."
When Serbian forces broke through and discovered the grisly scenes, Croatian soldiers tried to escape justice by fleeing to the Vukovar hospital and becoming "patients," with their weapons at their side. Perhaps one can look at the events that took place at the Vukovar hospital as an unjustifiable act of revenge, but if your wife, children, parents and grandparents had just been slaughtered by your enemy cowardly taking refuge in a hospital, be honest what might you have done?
In all of her commentaries,Miss Geyer has portrayed Serbs as wearing black hats and all Croatians, Bosnian Muslims and the Kosovo Liberation Army (armed and trained by Osama bin Laden)as wearing white hats. She conveniently fails to mention the atrocities committed by them against the Serbian population.
So let's have a little fairness in reporting from The Washington Times and let readers know the other side of the story, instead of only Miss Geyer's "special" version.

Sterling, Va.

The newspaper of (broken) record

I was required to read the New York Times every day when I was in high school because back then it was still the paragon of journalistic integrity except for the occasional Walter Duranty story, that is. That was many years ago. In the past 25 years, that paper has become a shadow of its former self as it has drifted inexorably into the role of handmaiden of the left wing of the Democratic Party. So I was truly amazed at The Washington Times' naivete in its expression of shock at the New York Times' characterization of Henry Kissinger's comments about invading Iraq ("New York Times misrepresents Kissinger," Editorial, yesterday). The editorial's assertion that the New York Times is above such antics is amazing: I haven't known anyone of intelligence in the past 10 years who would agree with that sentiment.

Lighthouse Point, Fla.

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