- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 24, 2002

Work unfit for a professor

The greatest flaw with the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is that responsibility for its effective operation lies with the wrong people ("Visa-tracking law big headache for colleges," Nation, Tuesday). I seem to recall that after the first World Trade Center attack, Congress passed a law calling for individual responsibility on the part of our foreign visitors, who would file their own visas. What is SEVIS but nanny government to the nth degree?
First, college professors are not policemen. Why are we forcing college professors to do what the Immigration and Naturalization Service hasn't been able to do? The INS is in the Department of Justice you know, justice, police stuff. Obviously, there is a logical disconnect at work here.
Second, we had welfare reform because we finally realized that personal responsibility was the ticket for people to take charge of their lives. SEVIS avoids personal responsibility because the person about whom we are worried (the student) only interacts with the system via an intermediary (the college). I suppose we should jail the parole officer when one of his parolees goes bad? Does anyone see how stupid a system that would be? Can we please come up with a way that makes the student responsible for his or her actions?
Third, the IRS a pretty effective government agency doesn't make the employer file the tax return for his employees, so why does the INS have the college professor file for the student? Instead, the student should have to file for himself and be reminded directly of the results of his bad behavior, if necessary.
Fourth, in warfare, superior interior lines of communication favor the defense. Unfortunately, we are on the defensive here in the United States in our war on terrorism. Fortunately, we also have the greatest interior line of communication in the history of mankind the Internet. Let's use it to its fullest capacity.
SEVIS plans to connect 14,000 or so schools with the several hundred INS and consular offices around the world. Big deal. Let's have a system that connects all 547,000 students to our INS and consular offices. No, let's have a system that connects all 35 million visitors in the United States not only to our INS and consular offices, but also to each and every one of 50,000 local police departments.
It's time we took back our country by eliminating the functional anonymity of the terrorist and his supporters who cower in our various emigre communities. SEVIS is a disservice to our country, to our law-abiding emigres and to our universities.

JOHN DONOVAN
Alexandria

California's home-school fight goes public

My remarks are apropos the article "California warns home schoolers" (Nation, Wednesday).
I am a home-schooling father. I also am an attorney in California who has defended home-schoolers when their right to home-school has been challenged. In California, school officials try from time to time to intimidate home-schoolers back into the institutional fold. It has not worked. More and more parents are taking direct control of the education of their children and teaching their children at home.
Home-schoolers are brave pioneers in the field of education, deeply dedicated to the education of their children, and they are willing to sacrifice extraordinary amounts of their time, resources and energy toward that end.
Home-schoolers recognize a truth that is self-evident: A parent has an inalienable right to direct the education of his or her child. This right is inherent in the principals of liberty, privacy and the pursuit of happiness. It is equal to the right of a person to speak freely, to publish sentiments on all subjects, to associate and assemble freely and to practice religion according to the dictates of his or her conscience. This fundamental right of a parent to direct the education of his or her child includes the right to refuse institutionalized education and, instead, to employ the parent's own resources in the privacy of the home and the chosen community toward that vital and primary duty, the education of his or her child.
The fundamental right of a parent to direct the education of his or her child is older than the United States Constitution; it is older than recorded history. It is so deeply woven into the fabric of what constitutes a family that to deny this right is to do violence to the sacred bonds that unite a loving mother and father to their beloved child.

WILL ROGERS
Petaluma, Calif.

Mumia Abu-Jamal's legacy of wasted lives

Monday's Culture, etcetera item about convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal ("Lost Irony") noted that his supporters apparently are oblivious to the ironic contrast of carrying signs that read "Fight Racist Censorship" while also trying to shout down Accuracy in Academia's Daniel Flynn when he spoke at the University of California at Berkeley.
The article is accurate in pointing out the cluelessness of Abu-Jamal's supporters, but there is an equally ironic facet to the left's support for this violent bigot: the wasted lives and resources of which he is the epicenter.
Consider, first, the man himself. There is little doubt that Abu-Jamal (formerly Wesley Cook) irrespective of his membership in radical anti-American groups such as MOVE and the Black Panthers, is an intelligent person. That he has been able to avoid the death penalty for nearly 20 years after conviction for the Dec. 9, 1981, murder of Officer Daniel Faulkner is partial testament to that. One wonders what this man might have contributed to society and others if he had used his talent for good rather than waste it on anger and hate.
Officer Faulkner's service to Philadelphia was cut short when Abu-Jamal shot him, thereby wasting the potential of another person's life and causing waste associated with the grief the officer's family has had to endure. There are the court and prison systems, which must waste time and resources addressing frivolous appeals and housing the man at taxpayer expense. There are the angry youths whom Abu-Jamal's case inspires and the likely waste that will occur as these youths cultivate (and harvest) another crop of hatred for white Americans.
Finally, there is the great unwashed mass of leftist advocates who reflexively march and protest in accordance with liberal doctrine. If these people instead put their considerable energies into more positive endeavors, such as actually helping the poor and needy rather than "advocating" for them by spray-painting mindless slogans on street signs, they might leave a lasting legacy of benefit.

SCOTT BYRD
Vienna

A case of mistaken identity

Yesterday's editorial "Good riddance" is riddled with errors. It seems to have confused University of South Florida (USF) Professor Sami Al-Arian with his brother-in-law, Mazen Al-Najjar. Even more disturbing, the editorial appears to have created a composite of the two men, describing a whole new person. It was Mr. Al-Najjar who was deported to an unnamed Middle Eastern country a day ago, not Mr. Al-Arian. And as far as I know, Mr. Al-Arian is not in detention, nor has he been since September 2001. Mr. Al-Najjar was released from jail after the judge in the case was shown secret government evidence federal prosecutors were using to keep him detained without due process. Much of the evidence consisted of newspaper clippings about Mr. Al-Najjar that the judge determined were not evidence. Mr. Al-Najjar was released for lack of evidence.
The editorial did get several things right, however. Mr. Al-Arian did appear on Bill O'Reilly's show, and his current troubles with USF did start with that interview. He also has associated in the past with people who eventually became leaders or members of U.S.-designated terrorist organizations. USF does indeed want to fire Mr. Al-Arian for what he has said in public about the situation in the Middle East, and it is using the safety issue on campus as a reason.
I am not writing this to defend either of these men but to illustrate the importance of getting the facts straight.

ALLEN M. ARNOLD
St. Petersburg, Fla.

Editor's note: A correction appears among today's editorials.


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