- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 10, 2002

'Propagandizing' the Arab Street

Propaganda usually oscillates between plain fabrication and half-truths. More sophisticated varieties finesse familiar words with new meaning. Steven Martinovich's analysis falls into the former category ("Turning the Arab street to Main St.," Op-Ed, yesterday).
Mr. Martinovich failed to mention that Israel has benefited from waves of immigrants whose education and training have cost their native countries billions of dollars. He also does not mention that Israel has received more than $84 billion in U.S. foreign aid alone. In terms of waived interest on loans, the cost to American taxpayers tallies to more than $134 billion. In addition, further billions in military loans and loan guarantees, plus U.S. private tax-deductible donations pour into Israel each year, which helps to explain its relative economic and military superiority to other countries in the Middle East.
Last, no Iranian would feel at home on the "Arab street," nor would any Arab consider Iranians part of Arab public opinion. Ethnically, Iranians are Persian, not Semitic; and they speak Farsi, not Arabic.

KEWMARS BOZORGMEHR
London

Bullying a 'bully' Miss America

Miss America 2003, Erika Harold, has endured verbal intimidation by pageant officials intent on squelching her chastity message to teens ("Miss America told to zip it on chastity talk," Page 1, yesterday). The officials apparently attempted to bully her into exclusively adopting an anti-teen violence message instead.
Thankfully, intimidation is one tactic Miss Harold is too familiar with to tolerate. Years ago, when subjected to horrific bullying on account of her mixed-race heritage, Miss Harold made a personal commitment to respect herself apart from the taunts and pressures of others. She applied that same courage and self-respect in committing herself to sexual purity.
In fact, Miss Harold sees a link between teen sex and violence: "If a young person is engaged in a promiscuous lifestyle, it makes them vulnerable to other risk factors, so I definitely see a tie-in there."
The evidence backs up Miss Harold's emphasis on abstinence, which is far more effective than condoms:
After introducing an "abstinence-oriented" program called "Not Me, Not Now," teen pregnancy rates in Monroe County, N.Y. drastically decreased from 63.4 per thousand in 1993 (the year prior to program initiation) to 49.5 per thousand in 1996.
Meanwhile, a National Institutes of Health report revealed the ineffectiveness of condoms in preventing sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia, gonorrhea in women, genital herpes, syphilis, chancroid and the human papillomavirus.
As for negative TV influences, the (Henry J.) Kaiser Family Foundation recently polled teen-agers and found that "72 percent think sexual behaviors on television influence the sexual behaviors of teens 'somewhat' or 'a lot.'"
Miss America enjoys a similar opportunity to influence teens at a crossroads in matters of sex and self-respect. The Miss America Organization claims a mission of "empowering American women to achieve their personal and professional goals, while providing a forum for them to express their opinions, talents, and intelligence." Well, Miss Harold is doing just this.

JONATHAN IMBODY
Senior policy analyst
Christian Medical Association (Washington Bureau)
Springfield

KKT's thinkingwarrants a background check

Yesterday's editorial, "Gunning for trouble in Maryland," remarks that Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend "has been hinting that restrictions on firearms ownership might have prevented the recent string of shootings that have terrorized the region and left at least six people dead." Mrs. Townsend's thinking warrants a background check.
In a Dec. 9, 1999 Op-Ed in The Washington Post titled "Crime in Two Counties," Gareth Davis and David Muhlhausen of the Heritage Foundation presented their analysis of crime rates in two similar jurisdictions, Montgomery County, Md., and Fairfax County, Va. While the former had significantly more crime than the latter, "Maryland has stricter gun laws than Virginia, which means that criminals have a greater likelihood of being confronted by an armed citizen in Virginia. Indeed, the gap between the two counties in crimes that involve face-to-face contact with a victim (such as rape, burglary, assault and robbery) is much greater than for offenses in which such contact is unlikely (larceny and car theft, for example)."
In other words, Maryland's gun laws make such violent acts less risky than they would be in a state where concealed weapons permits are much easier for law-abiding citizens to obtain. It is quite probable that the sniper's certain knowledge that his victims would not have a weapon handy for self-defense emboldened him.
Maryland's law on segregating weapons from ammunition in vehicles is another idiocy honest citizens follow but bad guys don't worry about. Why let the baddies get the drop on the innocent?

MIKE CAKORA
Columbia, S.C.

The danger revealed by the West Coast lockout

I'd like to present a different perspective of the lockout at West Coast shipping terminals, which President Bush has deemed dire enough to intervene in ("Bush steps in to halt West Coast shutdown," Page 1, Tuesday). Instead of merely viewing this action as a blow to our fragile economy, we should examine why it presents such a dangerous situation.
The vast majority of the locked-out cargo consists of finished foreign goods (e.g., toys, gifts and an astonishingly high variety of everyday-use products, such as tools and apparel). Another large portion of these loads is of component parts that are manufactured overseas and shipped to assembly plants within North America.
In the first instance, the pressure to settle the dispute is being applied by the retail stores that view a protracted dock closure as detrimental to their sales. In the second, domestic manufacturing facilities are complaining that they have been (or will be) forced to cease assembly operations and lay off employees if the lockout continues much longer.
Although both arguments have merit, they should cause us to reflect on just how dependent our nation has become on foreign manufacturers. In the short run, shipping our industries overseas to take advantage of cheap labor costs certainly has had a beneficial effect on the consumer. But in the long run, this direction is going to be disastrous to our economy because it will eventually eliminate a major portion of our middle wage earners, since our domestic companies will not be able to compete with cheap imports.
A study must be undertaken to determine our vulnerability to interruptions of foreign products and components. Then a national policy must be adopted to sustain those industries that we deem critical, especially to national security.
Also, it should be apparent that there is a big homeland security issue concerned with a flood of imported cargo. It is estimated that there are more than 1 million containers sitting off the West Coast. There is no method in our customs system to inspect more than a small fraction of them. In view of the events of September 11, this should cause great concern.

JEFFREY L. MOCK
Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.

Mixed-up pagination

I have been a regular reader for a long time now. I find the coverage up front and informational, and have no plans to stop enjoying The Times anytime soon.
The reason I feel inclined to write this letter is because I am an avid crossword puzzle fan. Yet, in checking the front page for the puzzle's location, I have been directed to the wrong page on more than several occasions. For example, in Tuesday's paper, readers were told that the comics (which accompany the crossword puzzle) were on page C6. Actually, they were on page D6.
Again, I enjoy reading The Times and will continue to do so. However, it would be even more enjoyable if readers consistently were directed to the correct page and section.

JOE FESTA
Washington


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