- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 17, 2002

'The nature of nurture'

As someone who would subscribe to The Washington Times just to read the exclusive news and feature stories that only Cheryl Wetzstein seems to have the resourcefulness to find, I was especially pleased to read her Culture Page special "Measuring the nature of nurture" in Tuesday's paper. Mrs. Wetzstein does everyone a favor by pointing out that so-called scientific and medical "experts" are far from infallible in their child-rearing judgments and that children desperately need loving, especially by means of their parents' touch.

I have a small quibble with the quote from Harriet McCarthy of the Eastern European Adoption Coalition, who asserts that caregivers in orphanages in other countries do not give enough loving care and hugs to the children for whom they are responsible. I have been to many countries and visited their orphanages, and in my view, the problem isn't that the instincts of the women who care for the children aren't sound or that they wouldn't like to give the children the affection the youngsters deserve and need. The problem is that in many countries, these overworked and underpaid women just can't manage so many children with the few resources that they have at their disposal.

That's why it is very encouraging when Mrs. McCarthy or anyone promotes adoption from these orphanages, a task that should be made substantially easier and less prone to financial corruption once the United States adopts and implements the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. The United States has signed the treaty but for the past 12 years has not ratified it.


WILLIAM L. PIERCE

Executive director

USA Committee for IAVAAN (International Association of Voluntary Adoption Agencies & NGOs)

Washington

In 2002, Columbus assailed by protesters two

The Washington Times' coverage of the defacement of the Christopher Columbus Memorial at Union Station and two protesters' interruption of Columbus Day ceremonies estimated Columbus supporters' attendance at "more than 100" ("Park Police cite 2 at Columbus fete," Metro, Tuesday). Yes, there were more than 100 in attendance about three times that many, in fact.

As one of the organizers of the ceremony, I asked one of the ushers a student at the Columbus School of Law of Catholic University to do a head count. He counted 275, not including the 25 or so members of the Marine Corps Band.

Indeed, attendance was down this year in comparison to earlier years, probably because of sniper jitters. Yet the number of out-of-towners who flew in to attend the Columbus Day memorial appeared to remain high.

It is a shame some people who are ill-informed about Columbus and his times latch onto misinformation or information torn from its context to call attention to themselves or to promote causes perhaps even praiseworthy ones and advance the historical version of negative campaigning.

Unfortunately, their brand of sound-bite negativity suggests to the uninformed that a positive case for Columbus is not compelling, even if the case could stand on its own merits. Disruption of public proceedings and the protesters' potential defacement of public property it occurred Sunday night fit this destructive rather than constructive approach.

Furthermore, such vandalism as pouring red paint on Columbus' statue constitutes stealing from the public treasury to pay for indulgent self-expression because we all have to bear the cost of cleaning up the mess.

Such behavior, of course, is self-defeating because it tends to alienate those to whom the protesters might otherwise have presented a positive case, if indeed they have one. How silly. How shameful.


EDWARD M. SULLIVAN

Mount Rainier, Md.

Amending Cuba's constitution

Tuesday's Page One article about the Varela Project ("Dissident demands Castro tell of petitions") incorrectly identified the present Cuban constitution as the "1940 Cuban Constitution."

In fact, the constitution that the Varela Project has petitioned to change is the 1976 document titled "Constitution of the Republic of Cuba." Published in 1977 by Cuba's Ministry of Justice, it was approved by the First Congress of the Cuban Communist Party that same year. Its preamble declares, among other things, that Cubans are "guided by the victorious doctrine of Marxism-Leninism; basing ourselves on proletarian internationalism, on the fraternal friendship, help and cooperation of the Soviet Union and other socialist countries."


JULIO VERA

Los Angeles

Not a supergun by a long shot

Last Thursday's Page One article on Saddam Hussein's proposed "supergun" is proof that when addressing the general public, standard measurements should be used rather than metric ones ("Saddam seeks German aid for 'supergun'"). Or at least the article should provide the correct metric measurements.

The article referenced a cannon with a 209 millimeter bore. That converts to 8.28 inches, a moderate caliber for standard heavy artillery. Rather, the supergun's bore should measure 209 centimeters, or 82.28 inches. Now that is a supergun. Most American readers can better imagine a designation in inches, anyway.


O.H. MCKAGEN

Falls Church, Va.

Not a supergun by a long shot

Last Thursday's Page One article on Saddam Hussein's proposed "supergun" is proof that when addressing the general public, standard measurements should be used rather than metric ones ("Saddam seeks German aid for 'supergun'"). Or at least the article should provide the correct metric measurements.

The article referenced a cannon with a 209 millimeter bore. That converts to 8.28 inches, a moderate caliber for standard heavy artillery. Rather, the supergun's bore should measure 209 centimeters, or 82.28 inches. Now that is a supergun. Most American readers can better imagine a designation in inches, anyway.


O.H. MCKAGEN

Falls Church, Va.

Neighborhood safety not determined by race

Columnist Cal Thomas couldn't have it more wrong ("No safe neighborhoods," Commentary, yesterday).

Like Mr. Thomas, I also grew up with parents who pointed out to me the "bad neighborhoods" I should stay away from neighborhoods controlled by drugs and the criminal activity that accompanies drugs. My parents didn't point out these neighborhoods because of racial prejudice in fact, they were mostly white but because they didn't want me getting into trouble there. Yet, Mr. Thomas would have us believe that most parents in our generation had the racially prejudiced attitude that was prevalent in his own home. Is this because he seems to feel guilty about his parents?

There are still many safe neighborhoods where people know each other and help each other. These neighborhoods are not as rare as Mr. Thomas seems to believe. They just don't make the news because the deaths there are usually from the rare accident or natural causes. However, Mr. Thomas seems to stand tall in announcing that no one is safe from the "Beltway shooter," not even those whites in their "'safe' enclaves." How sad.


STEPHEN M. FORSTER

Parkville, Md.


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