- The Washington Times - Friday, February 14, 2003

Russian prostitution imbroglio

U.S. Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow was outraged by the opinion piece I wrote for National Review Online last September, to which James Morrison referred in his Embassy Row column (Nation, Tuesday). I would like to provide some additional information that updates the situation.

I exposed the pro-prostitution cabal in Russia, which included staff from the U.S. Embassy, an American nongovernmental organization and its Russian partners. It was an outrageous situation, one I am sure Mr. Vershbow had a hard time believing. But the sad truth is that there was a working group drafting weak anti-trafficking legislation that would have allowed considerable latitude for traffickers to recruit and transport women into and out of Russia for prostitution. Working with this group was a Duma deputy from a political party that had announced publicly that it was drafting legislation to legalize prostitution.

Fortunately, because of the vigorous response from Russian and American activists concerned about the well-being of Russian women and children and Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky and her staff, there was a successful intervention to quell this effort to legalize prostitution.

Since the turnaround, stronger anti-trafficking legislation that criminalizes the full scope of predatory tactics used by traffickers has been drafted and soon will be introduced in the Duma. Another significant outcome is that a number of Russian women learned that they could use the tools of democracy such as free speech, letter-writing and lobbying their governmental representatives to change the course of history for women and children in Russia.



Women's Studies Department

University of Rhode Island


Justified hysteria

I am disgusted by the article that finds the latest terror warnings and those who take heed of them so laughable ("Hysteria runs riot; networks fuel the fear," Page 1, yesterday).

Perhaps shoring up one's home against a possible nuclear or biological attack if one lives in, say, North Dakota, is a waste of time and energy and may be considered "hysterical," but for those like me who witnessed the events of September 11 unfolding in my back yard, the article's "above the fray," pseudointellectual attitude is appalling.

You see, I live on an island. It is called Manhattan. On September 11, there was no getting on or off this island. Bridges and tunnels were shut down. In the event of a nuclear or biological attack, I don't envision our officials evacuating us for a long time after such an attack.

On September 11, I heard and watched the events unfold with my newborn son from outside of my daughter's school less than a mile away. I saw the Twin Towers collapse, one by one, from my bedroom window. I watched in horror on CNN as my United Airlines flying partners from my base crash-landed in Shanksville, Pa. I experienced the terror firsthand.

Sure, I used to be brave. I worked the shuttles to Saudi Arabia that took our military into "the theater" during the Gulf war. I lived two blocks from Harrod's in London when it was bombed that Saturday before Christmas so many years ago by suspected Irish Republican Army terrorists. I watched the news then; I wasn't panicked. I have lived in other countries that the article claims are "used to" this kind of terror, yet I have never been afraid. But this is different.

This war is terrifying business. Never before have we been faced with the threat of someone walking into the middle of Times Square with a dirty bomb, or gassing the New York City subway system. The truth is, no matter how many fighter jets we have passing overhead, I'm sure these terrorists would go undetected until the bomb went off or people started noticing the effects of the gas.

I am unapologetic when gathering supplies to prepare for a possible second attack against my city and my family. I am unapologetic for being panicked.

It reminds me of the story of the Three Little Pigs: one built his house of straw, the other of sticks and the third built his house of bricks. Which one survived? "Who's afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" I am. He has attacked my city before.


New York

Drugged editorial?

The editorial regarding Initiative 62, the D.C. Treatment Instead of Jail Initiative ("Stay tough on drugs," Wednesday), misrepresents both the measure and D.C. Superior Court Judge Jeanette J. Clark's recent ruling.

The measure applies to neither violent offenders nor drug dealers. It's simply wrong to say that Initiative 62 lacks coercion. The criminal justice system has every remedy available to it, including probation, testing and incarceration. The measure will be less expensive than drug court and apply to more people.

Judge Clark's ruling invalidated the measure on technical grounds about whether or not it allocated funding. Moreover, it's simply wrong to say that treatment without coercion doesn't work. This is an oft-repeated fallacy that has now reached the realm of myth.

The editorial implies that Initiative 62 would compel funding for 60,000 persons. In fact, it would apply to about 500 nonviolent people per year, who until now have been taken from the community and their families and warehoused in Ohio and other states. These people will be coming back to the city, and they will not have received treatment. In fact, jail in itself is an experience that requires major recovery.

Finally, like most of the 78 percent of citizens who voted for this initiative, our coalition of ministers, treatment providers, people in recovery, law enforcement groups and others have varying views about the status of drugs in society. However, we're clear that we are locking up too many nonviolent, mostly black men and women, while failing to solve addiction.


Implementation coordinator

Drug Policy Alliance


Down with 'diversity'

If "diversity" as a civic ideal was ever a good idea and that is doubtful its implementation in American society has certainly been a botched job, as Ernest Lefever correctly notes in "Bowing before the altar of diversity" (Commentary, Wednesday). Somewhere along the line, the correct rejection of racism became conflated into a raft of silliness within the goofy ideological cousins of diversity and multiculturalism.

Quota-based inclusion has replaced the ideal of meritorious achievement, and ethnic victimhood has been a tool for endless demands and cultural encroachment. For example, the Hispanic complaint lobby recently emitted loud squeals over Dame Edna's joke in "Vanity Fair" magazine about the scarcity of great books in Spanish. In such societal struggles, free speech is curtailed, and Americans are guilt-tripped for having their own culture.

I propose that the root cause of the diversity mental disorder is excessive immigration that has resisted assimilation. Unlike earlier generations, many of today's immigrants don't want to be Americans at all. They live in their ethnic enclaves and enter real America only for shopping, employment and, all too often, government-benefit collection. Furthermore, some immigrants believe America owes them for past infractions, and they are here to collect.

Much of the press is to blame for this inappropriate attitude adjustment. Evidently, the diversity nanny state needs a behavioral enforcer to keep us unruly citizens in check, and many media outlets have volunteered. While tolerance is generally a worthwhile virtue, not all forms of diversity are equal or meritorious.


Berkeley, Calif.

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