- The Washington Times - Monday, July 8, 2002

An uneven exchange

In "Cultural bridges to the Islamic world" (Commentary, Wednesday), Sens. Edward Kennedy and Richard Lugar suggest funding a program to encourage high school-aged youths from the "Arab Middle East" to participate in cultural exchanges that would allow them to live and study in the United States. By doing so, they argue, we can "dispel the disturbing trend of anti-American rhetoric and beliefs by engaging Islamic peoples in the realms of values and ideas."
Would that this were so. Unfortunately their goodwilled reasoning is flawed in several regards.
First, America's problems in that region do not stem from a lack of understanding about our culture and values. Rather it stems from the absolute rejection of these values and this culture. Inviting to our schools students from countries that hate us will not dissuade them from their hatred any more than living among us and studying in American flight schools persuaded the September 11 hijackers to abandon their plans.
Second, if immersing oneself in U.S. culture were a cure for anti-Americanism, how do Sens. Kennedy and Lugar explain John Walker Lindh and Jose Padilla, homegrown Americans in custody for alleged allegiance to our Islamicist enemies?
Third, the senators say the $20 million annual cost of their proposed program would redress the alleged underrepresentation of Muslim Arabs in American exchange programs. They write: "Of the more than 500,000 foreign students in the United States, less than 5 percent are from the Arab Middle East." What they ignore is that out of a world population of 6.27 billion, only 297 million (4.7 percent) are from the Arab Middle East. If 5 percent of the students participating in exchange programs are from that region, then they are properly represented.
Fourth, who is going to pay for this? Taxpayers, of course. It should not be unreasonable for American taxpayers to ask our elected representatives to think about educating American children before spending our money on the privileged classes of antagonistic regimes. (Surely the Arab downtrodden would not be sent here, but the scions of influential families.)
This proposal is bipartisan, signed by a Republican and a Democrat . What party will consider our interests before those of the foreign diplomats who wine and dine them?

GEORGE STILL
Burke
I don't know Richard Lugar's credentials, but his co-writer certainly is an expert on bridges (Chappaquiddick) and culture (indeed, multicultural).
G.P. SEVACHKO
Tarpon Springs, Fla.
"Cultural bridges to the Islamic world" rightly suggests that we need to bridge the culture gap and make the Muslim world more moderate. However, a bridge runs two ways, and the article fails to mention how the United States can become more moderate also. While most everyone can agree that the teachings of the Taliban and other Muslim fundamentalists are extreme, so are modern day American values from the other end of the moral spectrum.
The senators say that we need to show Middle Eastern students "American values." Well, aside from the Palestinian-Israeli issue, one of the main reasons the Muslim world holds anti-Americans sentiment is because of many "American" values. The America of today is a society where premarital and extramarital sex is rampant and accepted. The concepts of freedom of speech and religion have been exploited to the point where Americans burn their own flag, strip clubs are legal and hoodlum culture is glorified by leading "entertainers." This is all in the name of freedom. Well, like all social values, freedom can be exploited and become mere license.
The United States became a great nation not by the values flowing from freedom abused. Rather than market the tawdry and immoral culture of the new America, we must export older American principles by becoming more socially moderate ourselves. Once we've accomplished this thereby showing that America also can change for the better then we can achieve peace and friendship with the Muslim world.

OMAR SADIQ
Fairfax

Democrats court disaster for delaying Estrada

As once again noted in "Ex-solicitors general urge Democrats to end pursuit of Estrada's memos" (Nation, July 1), the confirmation process of D.C. Court of Appeals nominee Miguel Estrada has dragged on for more than a year. This is shameful. Furthermore, it provides Hispanics throughout the United States with a crystal clear snapshot of how the Democrat-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee values their vote.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy's leadership as chairman of the Judiciary Committee has thus far failed to produce a confirmation hearing for Mr. Estrada. He deserves an expedited confirmation hearing now. Let his qualifications dictate whether he deserves to be appointed.

Using politics as a barometer for this issue will not bode well for those who expect to court the Hispanic vote.


GEHRIG M. SALDANA

President

Council 4496

League of United Latin American Citizens

Dallas

Anne Arundel parents avoid public school morass

"Homeschooling and its foes" (Editorial, June 23) does a swell job of focusing on the problems in our public schools. But there are signs of change. We are witnessing here, in Anne Arundel County a microcosm of change for educating children in America. This trend, in which some parents are following the school choice option that many of our privileged elected officials have taken advantage of for years, has reached an increasing number of parents. Parents are opting out of the failed public schools and are sending their children to private schools or taking on the arduous task of home-schooling their children.

The growing cynicism in the public's mind has been fueled by the fact that our elected officials only provide lip service and make promises about instituting changes in education. Which politician in particular? From having talked to many of them in various forums it's safe to say that the majority of Maryland's elected officials (federal, state and county) are guilty. Many parents finally realize these emperors have no clothes.

The most effective way to overcome the incompetence of the administrators of public schools, the aggressive political power of the teachers unions and the ineffectiveness of our elected officials is to encourage the growing number of energized parent-citizens.

What is happening in Anne Arundel County? Home-schooling is expanding with separate home-schooling groups joining in cohesive, mutually supportive larger groups; private school facilities are expanding to the extent that in some cases larger class sizes are encouraged; new private schools are being funded and constructed. And waiting lists exist. Other schools are using temporary facilities to hold classes as new schools are being built. All to accommodate an ever increasing number of children leaving the public schools.

This evolutionary process is gaining momentum in the county. Many parents realize public schools brainwash children by teaching them self-esteem and nonjudgmentalism, multiculturalism and subversive lifestyles. In the meantime, useful subjects such as math, English and science are given short shrift.

Probably there are many other local communities across the country going through this parent-driven evolutionary change in education. Maybe this quiet, ongoing evolution in Anne Arundel County will serve as an example to other communities across the country.


BILL KORVIN

Odenton, Md.


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