- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 26, 2002

Christmas counselors need counseling

Why in The Washington Times family section, of all places, do we find yet another article begrudging and belittling the Christmas spirit ("Magical realism," Sunday)? Who cares to hear that someone named Alise Schor and her sister are such boors as to fight with each other while one is a holiday houseguest and the other a holiday host? Manners and self-control are the only requirements here.
Advice from the various "experts" trotted out in the article is at best trite and obvious avoid overdoing it, plan ahead, "accommodate and adjust" and at worst downright wrong. Human beings require more, much more, than just the basics of food, shelter and so forth. To be human means to be fed by the very "fantasies" and "magical memories" that these lousy counselors so blithely advise us to throw out.
People are sick of being told to take Christmas ironically, with a grain of salt, with eyes rolling and tongue firmly planted in cheek. We can get that odious "Bah, ho-ho-hum-bug" spirit everywhere and anywhere. Please leave it out of The Washington Times.

MARIAN COOMBS
Crofton, Md.

The rocky road to Cyprian unity

The full-page articles on Cyprus in The Washington Times on Sunday, "New EU country brings along its baggage" and " Cypriots will have to adapt to foreign cultures," accurately reflect the limits of political compromise on the complex Cyprus issue and the public mood on either side of the Green Line regarding U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's plan for a settlement. In doing so, the articles use terminology and concepts that, if put into practice, would condemn the Turkish Cypriots to second-class citizenship in a Hellenic Cyprus in which they would constitute an ethnic minority, not an equal partner.
The candid remarks by an ordinary Greek Cypriot, on the other hand, categorizing Turkish Cypriots alongside foreign workers from Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Bulgaria and Romania, speak volumes about how Greek Cypriots view their Turkish Cypriot neighbors and what kind of a role they envisage for the Turkish Cypriots in an integrated economy. The cultural baggage Greek Cypriots will carry into a possible political deal with Turkish Cypriots clearly will be one of the major challenges for the future of peaceful co-existence on the island.

OSMAN ERTUG
Representative
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
Washington

It's time to let S. Korea defend itself

I am inspired to write this letter after reading "Roh wins S. Korea presidency" (Page 1, Friday) and in light of some South Koreans' anger with the United States after the Army acquitted soldiers involved in the accidental death of two girls.
South Korea's demonstrators are not demanding that South Korea be allowed to try American soldiers who are accused of breaking the law. They already have that right. Rather, they are demanding that the Status of Forces Agreement be amended so that American soldiers would be subject to the corrupt South Korean court system for actions they take during the course of their duties. This never must be allowed to happen. No American would be safe serving on the Korean Peninsula if he were subject to the whims of Korean emotionalism.
The accident that took the lives of those two girls was horrible, but it was an accident, not a crime that should send young Americans to jail. These soldiers were in Korea because we, the American people, sent them there. They also were driving their vehicle down that narrow country road because they were part of a convoy under the command of their company commander, their battalion commander, their division commander and, ultimately, their president. Do we really want American servicemen on trial in foreign lands for following orders?
It is important to note, in order to put the South Korean elections in context, that within two weeks of that accident, the North Korean navy attacked a South Korean gunboat and killed five South Korean sailors. There have been no protests, candlelight vigils or memorials in South Korea over this purposeful act by a fierce enemy. The South Korean people have rechanneled their fear of the North by turning on their liberators and protectors instead of courageously facing their true enemy.
It is time for American military forces to leave South Korea. Protecting the South from the North is no longer in our national interest. After the fall of the Soviet Union, we no longer need to be concerned with the long-term survival of South Korea, which is militarily and economically strong enough to defend itself. If it ever should be defeated by North Korea, that will be because the South Koreans lacked the national will to survive. I see no need to spend American blood for that cause.

DALE FORRESTER
Seoul

X marks the Christ

Detractors of Christianity desire to cheapen the name of Christ during the holiday season by using the term Xmas rather than Christmas. Contrary to what Joseph Duome says in his column "Don't say X for Christmas" (Op-Ed, Tuesday), however, even that backfires.
In the early years of the Church, Christians were persecuted. In order to determine secretly whether one was a believer of this new faith, one would make the mark of a fish ("I will make you fishers of men"), write the letters IXOYC standing for Jesus Christ, God's Son, Saviour and see if the other person knew what it meant. (The X represents the word Christ, which in Greek is Xristos.)
So today, when someone writes Xmas, I am not offended but rather reminded to once again thank my Father in Heaven that Christ died for me and that I am blessed to live in a free country where I might openly worship Him.

JAY R. WRIGHT
Wichita, Kan.

How to slow down drunk driving

The article reporting on the recent resurgence of drunken-driving fatalities overlooks two major factors affecting this continuing national tragedy ("Alcohol-related traffic deaths are rising after 20 years," Nation, Dec. 19).
The first factor is the enduring role of religion as a deterrant to drunk driving specifically, and drinking in general. The state with the lowest rate of drunken-driving fatalities, Utah, is 70 percent Mormon, a religion that prohibits use of alcohol and stimulants. (Thus, it also has the lowest rate of adult smokers.) Religion and spirituality also enable many people to stop drinking. Without suggesting mass conversion, efforts to curb drunk driving could acknowledge religion and spirituality. Second, our enduring reliance on the automobile makes potential outlaws and killers of even moderate drinkers. If more of us lived in walkable communities, drinkers could indulge and stumble home without threatening the lives of others.

CHRISTOPHER D. RINGWALD
Advocates for Human Potential
Delmar, N.Y.

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