- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 6, 2002

Kennedy race record was no profile in courage

I would like to provide more fodder for the proposition that Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is less than wholly credible ("Townsend's mounting credibility problems," Editorial, yesterday). During a recent appearance geared to black voters, she overstated her family's role in the civil rights struggles of the 1960s.

History shows that John and Robert Kennedy's civil rights record is one of eloquent words and minimal actions.

Yes, the Kennedys advocated historic civil and voting rights legislation. But it took the substantial legislative muscle of President Lyndon Johnson to get these bills passed.

The Kennedys talked about desegregating Southern schools; President Nixon achieved it. In 1968, 68 percent of black students in the South attended all-black schools. By the end of 1972, that number had dropped to 8 percent.

In fact, some aspects of the Kennedys' civil rights record are disappointing.

For example, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover infamously ordered his agents to spy on Martin Luther King Jr. But he was not a maverick: Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy personally authorized Hoover's bugs and wiretaps.

If Mrs. Townsend is going to invoke her family's legacy during the course of her campaign, her credibility will rest upon acknowledging both rosy myth and gritty reality.


RICHARD J. CROSS III

Timonium, Md.

Environmentalist group reneges on Black Hills agreement

The Washington Times has reported extensively on recent legislation passed by Congress to allow forest management to proceed in the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota. Bipartisan enactment of this legislation was led in the Senate by Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Sen. Tim Johnson, and in the House by Rep. John Thune, based on negotiated agreements among several different interests who work, play and make their homes in the Black Hills of South Dakota. This is an important accomplishment for our neck of the woods.

How disappointing it was to read that Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope is now renouncing his organization's agreement to this compromise ("Daschle waiver helps a colleague," Nation, Wednesday). Mr. Pope now claims that "Congress inserted sufficiency language" over the Sierra Club's opposition.

Malarkey. The Black Hills legislation is word for word what was agreed to by all who developed it, including the Sierra Club representatives who laudably chose to participate in the negotiations. I know, for I was there. Mr. Pope was not. The sufficiency language to which Mr. Pope is now objecting is an essential component of our agreement. The Black Hills legislation will allow the harvest of trees that present a serious wildfire threat to our forests. Given the Sierra Club's historic "zero cut" position, I was pleased with its progress.

Here in the West, a person's word is a matter of honor. Honesty counts and integrity matters. Claiming today that the Sierra Club really didn't agree after all is dishonorable. It dishonors all of us who worked together to forge the best compromise possible, it dishonors our congressmen who enacted the legislation and, perhaps most of all, it dishonors Mr. Pope and the Sierra Club.

The Black Hills forest legislation shows there can be solutions to the forest-management issues that are paralyzing the West. But these solutions can only be reached through strong leadership and sincere, honest efforts by the stakeholders.

So, Mr. Pope, how about a little straight talk and real support for this accomplishment? Perhaps, then, you too can begin to appreciate how these concepts can advance forest environments and protect the people of America.


TOM TROXEL

Executive Secretary

Black Hills Regional Multiple Use Coalition

Rapid City, S.D.

Like swatting mosquitoes with a baseball bat

The editorial bemoaning the decline of defense spending was informative but seems to have missed the point completely ("Guns and butter," Sunday). Comparing the war on terror to the Cold War is useless. The Cold War was a global conflict that was largely resolved by outspending an opponent that used similar technologies and strategies; the war on terror is being waged against a shadowy, amorphous association of disgruntled men.

The terrorists aren't defending any homeland per se. They have no stationary economy or civilian population to protect. They have no way of even giving us decent resistance during large-scale, traditional battles. So they hide, they infiltrate, they fade into the background, and when we're not watching, they just might get us again.

This war cannot be won with bombs and tanks and gadgets. Nowhere is this lesson more poignant than in Afghanistan. We essentially rolled over the Taliban in less than two months, thanks to our vastly superior military. But where's Osama? He's gone like smoke. Poof. Where's al Qaeda? Like Osama, it's gone too. Poof.

Enter the new, beefed-up Defense Department budget. What are we building? Missile shields, aircraft carriers, long-range artillery in short, Cold War armaments. It's like trying to swat mosquitoes with a baseball bat.


TED STETS

Minneapolis

Mayor Williams is not off the hook yet

I wish to make a few clarifications in regard to yesterday's editorial "Question for the bench."

D.C. Registrar of Voters Kathryn Fairley's review of Mayor Anthony A. Williams' campaign petition signatures was not "overturned" by the Board of Elections. The registrar's job was to investigate one part of a challenge filed by me, a law student, and community activist Dorothy Brizill of the signatures' veracity by conducting a line-by-line analysis of the signatures. She was only to investigate whether a signature was forged, the person wasn't registered, wasn't a registered Democrat, or lived at a different address.

The other element of my and Mrs. Brizill's challenge, which the registrar was not charged with investigating, was that all of the sheets collected by a member of the Bishop family should have been thrown out. Their names were signed to sheets containing thousands of forged signatures, and they admitted several times to the press that they did not collect signatures they originally claimed to have collected. When the board tried to investigate this element of our challenge, the Bishops ducked subpoenas and then refused to answer any questions.

The affidavit on petition sheets is designed to provide some integrity to the system. It identifies who collected the signatures, in the event that questions need to be asked regarding the circumstances surrounding the collection of those signatures. When the circulator refuses to answer questions, there is no reason any of his or her signatures should be presumed valid. Taking into account all of these elements of the challenge, the Board of Elections found that Mr. Williams did not have 2,000 valid signatures.


SHAUN SNYDER

Washington

Off with the veil's negative connotation

I wish to congratulate The Washington Times for publishing "Veiled Messages" (Culture, Friday). I found the discussion of the veil's history both informative and timely.

It was that rare bit of journalism that explores the positive side of the veil. While veils have been worn by Muslims and non-Muslims alike since ancient times, it has been designated a sign of oppression by the Western media in general.


RAYHAN CHOWDHURY

Atlanta

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