- The Washington Times - Monday, May 20, 2002

Same-sex education passes diversity test

I read with interest Dan K. Thomasson's Commentary column about the value of same-sex education as a choice in the public school system ("Separating the boys from the girls," May 15). At my alma mater, the Virginia Military Institute, we annually commemorate the character and courage demonstrated by the cadets who fought in the Battle of New Market on May 15, 1864. These cadets typify what English poet, John Milton, said of fine education: "that which fits a man to perform justly, skillfully, and magnanimously all the offices, both private and public, of peace and war." Unfortunately, the American Civil Liberties Union and the U.S. Supreme Court concluded in 1996 that same-sex education is discriminatory. Organizations such as the National Organization for Women would have us believe that it is "regressive." My message to such people: Allowing same sex education is not discriminatory or regressive, it enables true diversity.

CARMEN D. VILLANI JR.
Chantilly

Iraqi Kurds have legitimate aspirations

In his April 25 Op-Ed column, "Let's talk Turkey," Jed Babbin cites several reasons the Kurds of northern Iraq should not be allowed to manage their own affairs.
Let's set aside the fact that Iraq's Kurds are doing fine governing themselves at the moment, under the most difficult conditions.
First, Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) is a secular administration, not the radical Shi'ite Muslim movement that Mr. Babbin says it is. One has to wonder where Mr. Babbin gets his information. Having been to the Kurdish autonomous zone of northern Iraq twice in recent years, I can assure him that rather than being a radical Muslim organization, the PUK is dedicated to secular liberalism and is fighting Tehran and Baghdad-sponsored Islamist Kurdish groups based around the Halabja area of northern Iraq.
Secondly, Iraqi Kurds have never missed an opportunity to insist they are not seeking separation from Iraq but rather autonomy within a federal and democratic future Iraq. Given Saddam Hussein's genocidal policies, one should commend the Kurds for their forbearance rather than slight them with inaccurate information.
Mr. Babbin's support for stalwart U.S. allies such as Turkey should not also blind him to the legitimate aspirations of other groups such as the Kurds.

DAVID ROMANO
Montreal

Equal treatment could remedy Cyprus conflict

The May 16 World story "Official troubled over ethnic strife" repeats well-known cliches about Cyprus and, in doing so, reveals why the issue has remained unresolved for the past 38 years. The fault lies with the international community, which has demonstrated an inability or refusal to diagnose the root causes of the conflict correctly so that an appropriate remedy can be prescribed. It would, naturally, be up to the parties directly involved to fill that prescription, but the international community can help by treating them fairly and equally.
I wish to point out that Cyprus has not been divided (or "partitioned") since 1974 but since 1963, when the Greek Cypriots launched their first armed onslaught on the Turkish Cypriots, aiming at union with Greece. The only difference between then and now is that from 1963 to 1974, the island was divided into 32 pieces rather than two.
Turkey's intervention in 1974, undertaken in accordance with its rights and obligations under the Treaty of Guarantee of 1960, was not the cause but the result of the conflict years of agitation by the Greek Cypriots to take over the whole island. This legitimate and justified action cannot be described as an "invasion" with all the negative connotations of that term. Does it matter to anybody that the Turkish Cypriots, who were saved from extermination by Turkey's timely action, regard this as liberation?
It would be equally wrong to describe Cyprus as a "divided nation." The island, in its modern history, has never been "one nation," although it was a single "state" from 1960 to 1963. It has been the "common home" of two distinct peoples, Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. Geographical, political and physical separation came when the Greek Cypriots tried to turn Cyprus into a single nation that is, a single "Hellenic nation" by purging the island of its Turkish Cypriot population.
The establishment, which has applied to become a member of the European Union and is about to reach its goal over the heads of the Turkish Cypriots, is not Cyprus as such but the Greek Cypriot administration of southern Cyprus operating under the false title of the "Republic of Cyprus." This unilateral application, which is expected to be concluded by the end of the year, has already caused immense damage to prospects for a settlement and is likely to lead to another crisis in the region if it goes ahead.

OSMAN ERTUG
Representative
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
Washington

Lower income families need higher education

By focusing on jobs in your May 15 editorial "How welfare was reformed," you overlooked a more fundamental point: education.
The Welfare Reform Act of 1996 discouraged welfare recipients from pursuing a college education, mandating they engage in "work first." This policy emphasized quick entry into the labor force and penalized states for allowing long-term access to education and training. More welfare recipients worked but at dead-end jobs.
I speak from experience as a former welfare recipient who was fortunate to have been involved with a pre-reform welfare system. When I had no resources, welfare was a safety net that allowed me to return to school so that eventually I could enter the workforce able to support my family. A college education enabled me to stand on my own and to exit both poverty and the welfare rolls for good. I am now a professor at Hamilton College with a doctorate; I don't believe I would have attained this level of success without welfare.
Education higher education, not merely vocational training is critical to moving poor parents permanently out of poverty. Failing to include provisions for education in the reauthorization will produce a two-tiered educational and economic system that increasingly widens the gulf between educated, and thus economically viable, and undereducated, economically underprivileged, citizens.

VIVYAN ADAIR
Clinton, N.Y.


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