- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 9, 2002

King and birth control

In response to Tanya L. Green's Feb. 5 Op-Ed column, "Sanger deceived Martin Luther King Jr.," I think that Mr. King along with W.E.B. Dubois, Adam Clayton Powell Sr., Mary McLeod Bethune and other African-American leaders who endorsed birth control is due more respect for his intelligence and acumen than Ms. Green is willing to give him.

Mr. King recognized that birth control would, as he said when he accepted the Margaret Sanger Award (named after my grandmother), "preserve human life under humane conditions." Mr. King knew well that African Americans were often subject to living in inhumane conditions due to urbanization, poverty and discrimination.

Because of this, Mr. King stated: "For the Negro, therefore, intelligent guides of family planning are a profoundly important ingredient in his quest for security and a decent life."

Black families today, just like white families, seek to bear their children under the optimal circumstances to give them the best chance at a healthy future. I am willing to let every family make up its own mind when it is best to do this.



International Planned Parenthood Council

New York

Unfair to AmeriCorps

Your editorial on the AmeriCorps program was misleading and minimizes the importance of this service program to the United States ("Armey vs. the army of volunteers," Feb. 7).

Upon graduating from the University of Virginia in 1998, I chose to spend a year working as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer in Richmond. During that year, I coordinated a reading-tutoring program that employed more than 100 college students and AmeriCorps members and served hundreds of elementary school children in some of the area's most needy schools.

For a year of mentally and physically exhausting work, I received about $8,500, which was barely above the federal poverty level, and a $4,600 education stipend, which paid for one year's tuition for my master's degree. It would have taken me nearly three years in AmeriCorps to make the $23,000 you cite in your editorial.

As a VISTA volunteer, I witnessed numerous AmeriCorps members pouring their heart and soul into their programs and communities in order to "get things done." The work of AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and Peace Corps members has been invaluable to people throughout the world. You cite what you believe are failed attempts at true volunteerism, such as constructing homes and recruiting for food stamps, in a puerile attempt to discredit the program, but you fail to acknowledge the outstanding accomplishments that volunteer programs provide to this nation.

Maybe you should try speaking with an AmeriCorps member to find out what the program is really about or, better yet, try speaking with someone whose life was bettered by a member's generous work.



Drug war informant schemes trounce rights

In his Feb. 4 Commentary column, "Caution with the charges," Paul Craig Roberts cited a recent Dallas police scandal that should serve as a wake-up call.

The Dallas police exercised questionable judgment in paying $200,000 to a confidential informant now accused of buying fake drugs, and this is not an isolated incident.

The combination of informants culled from the criminal underworld and overzealous anti-drug warriors anxious to increase arrest stats has dangerous implications. Whether or not a defendant is actually guilty, the informant profits when a conviction is made. This is a dangerous practice. It lends itself to entrapment and dishonest testimony.

In perhaps the most notorious case, DEA informant Andrew Chambers promised obscene amounts of cash to unsuspecting citizens for (presumably real) drugs, earning him $2.2 million courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer. He was ultimately found to have routinely committed perjury.

In an age when Americans are using more prescription drugs than ever, including blatantly recreational drugs such as Viagra, the $50 billion war on some drugs threatens the integrity of the criminal justice system.


Program officer

Drug Policy Alliance


Catholic bishops should rethink stance on U.S. immigration

Your recent story regarding the Roman Catholic Church and Hispanic immigrants was insightful but also disturbing ("Catholics and immigration," Feb. 7).

As a Catholic and a U.S. citizen, I look to the church for spiritual guidance and for its moral leadership in opposing abortion, homosexuality and other societal ills that harm our families, but I am troubled by the church's seemingly permissive attitude toward illegal aliens, primarily from Latin America, and its pervasive bilingual services to immigrants.

As your reporter notes, 30 percent to 38 percent of the U.S. Catholic Church comprises Hispanics. While I welcome the church's desire to reach out, its efforts risk alienating the two-thirds majority in America who are not Hispanics.

I believe that if the church wants to unify all of its followers, regardless of ethnicity, it should help Hispanic immigrants learn the English language and to aid their assimilation into American society.

The U.S. bishops should also take an unequivocal stand against illegal immigration and consider supporting a moratorium on legal immigration. If the Catholic Church is to thrive in America in the 21st century, it cannot be splintered into two churches.


Executive director




Columnist shows little interest in history of Mormons

I know that Tom Knott is a sportswriter and cannot be expected to know much about religion or history, but someone at your newspaper should.

In his Feb. 6 column "So many events, so little interest," Mr. Knott displayed more than his boredom with the Winter Games; he also showed quite a bit of ignorance of the people and place he was sent to cover.

He reported, among other things, that Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, decided to stay in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake. Unfortunately, Joseph Smith never made it to Utah. He was murdered by a mob in Illinois, and his death prompted the Mormon exodus, led by Brigham Young, to what is now called Salt Lake City.

I leave it to Mr. Knott to justify why his newspaper should pay the costs of sending him somewhere he obviously doesn't want to be and to cover something in which he has no interest. But I have to ask you to do a better job of editing his copy.


Managing director

Public Affairs Department

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Salt Lake City

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