- The Washington Times - Friday, January 3, 2003

Defending race-based preferences

It is unfortunate that Nat Hentoff, otherwise enlightened on social justice issues, is shortsighted on affirmative action ("Color-coded diversity," Op-Ed, Monday).

Since the late 1960s, after Martin Luther King was assassinated, elite colleges and universities have recruited minority students to integrate their mostly-white campuses. Many of those students, who were talented and qualified to begin with, became physicians, lawyers and policy-makers. Secretary of State Colin Powell, a self-described beneficiary of affirmative action, is a sterling example of why this policy works.

Even so, the University of Michigan considers more than minority status. It gives 20 points for socioeconomic status or athletic achievement. Thus, poor white students may receive the same consideration as underrepresented minorities. The vast majority of points, 110, are given for academic factors. The University of Michigan also considers geography, class rank, unique life experiences, interests, talents and indicators of leadership. The university uses no quotas and makes every effort to assure that each student is able to handle the curriculum.

So, what is the problem? Despite efforts to recruit underrepresented minorities, Michigan's student body remains predominately white, although both minorities and nonminorities fund the institution through their tax dollars.

Mr. Hentoff should do a lot of soul-searching. Given the increasing diversity in America, affirmative action at the highest levels of academe is necessary, fair and constitutional.


SHIRLEY J. WILCHER

Executive director

Americans for a Fair Chance

Washington

Another Rwanda in the making?

The Bush administration should take note of Ambassador Pascal D. Kokora's plea about his country ("A teetering Ivory Coast," Op-Ed, Dec. 23). The French claim that they are doing "God's work" in the Ivory Coast. Meanwhile, the United States seems to be waiting for another crisis similar to Rwanda or Somalia to pay attention to the chaos in the Ivory Coast.

Given the war on terrorism and the White House's preoccupation with Iraq, analysts and diplomats connected with Africa have repeatedly complained about the lack of U.S. interest in the region. Even as the French are getting ready for a long-haul military involvement in their former colony, there has hardly been any peep from the United States. This is surprising. After all, the same Islamic fundamentalist forces that have wreaked havoc in many parts of the world are also at work in the Ivory Coast.

Both the international community and the United States have the responsibility to condemn, in the strongest language possible, any attempt to forcibly overthrow a legitimately elected government. This position has also been adopted by the United Nations. The U.N. Security Council has condemned the armed rebels and called for a political solution to the crisis. The Bush administration needs to reiterate this message.

There are other compelling reasons for the United States to pay more attention to the Ivory Coast.

Unlike residents of many African countries, Ivorians enjoyed a long period of relative prosperity and growth that drew people from many of their near and sometimes not-so-near neighbors looking for a better life and escaping oppression, wars, famine and violence in their own countries.

As a result, the Ivory Coast has become the African melting pot: It contains an estimated 4 million to 5 million immigrants, representing 30 percent to 40 percent of the country's population. This oasis of stability is now tottering on the brink of a major upheaval, and unless the world pays more attention, it could turn into a major economic and refugee catastrophe.


MERVYN DYMALLY

Former U.S. congressman

Washington

Missing the Montagnards' salient distinction

How is it possible that The Washington Times could depict the racist holocaust being carried out by the communist Vietnamese against the Montagnard racial minority as essentially religious persecution ("Christmas crackdown in Vietnam," Editorial, yesterday)?

True, the Montagnards are mostly Christian, but their real sin in the eyes of the racist communist dictatorship is that they are racially and ethnically different. The Montagnards are a peaceful aboriginal people who are a distinct racial, cultural and, yes, religious minority in Vietnam. For their differences, they have suffered abuse for centuries.

To trivialize this communist racist genocide by describing it as just religious persecution substantially lets the totalitarian regime off the hook. This is a government, by the way, that essentially was brought to power by congressional Democrats who cut aid to our South Vietnamese allies shortly after the 1973 "peace treaty."

Since it vanquished South Vietnam in 1975, it has been helped by former President Bill Clinton, who, with Sen. John McCain's help, normalized relations with this brutal dictatorship in the mid-1990s. Thus, our own government bears much of the responsibility for this ongoing extermination of a whole people who allied themselves with the war against communist aggression.


ROBERT BRUCE SHARP

Executive director

Leadership Forum Coalition

Washington

Congress AWOL on cloning

Yesterday, columnist Mona Charen addressed Clonaid's claim that it has successfully created the first human clone ("Cloning around incredulously," Commentary). She makes a convincing argument against cloning, but would have done better to place the blame for this ever-expanding disaster on the correct party, Congress.

The American public has for years consistently opposed human cloning. As recently as May, a CBS news poll found that 85 percent of voters believed scientists should not be allowed to clone a human. However, our representatives seem unable or unwilling to pass legislation that reflects the views of their constituencies.

In Germany, all embryonic research is banned. Legislation to outlaw human cloning is already in place in Brazil, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and most of Europe and Australia. In the United States, however, there is no such federal law.

Congress dithered for more than a year on details and riders in the proposed legislation. During that time, Congress became preoccupied most recently with comments made by Sen. Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, and before then, with shake-ups in the makeup of Congress and half of Washington resigning or being fired by the president. Somewhere along the way, the big picture got lost.

Now a cult has beaten Congress to the punch. Supposedly. I feel for Baby Eve, if she exists. I think we can all agree that any baby cloned or not who is raised by members of this cult is in for a rough life. Had Congress seen the storm through the clouds, we might have had regulations in place to screen research by these types of folks. It might have made a difference. After all, Baby Eve's mother is reported to be an American citizen.

As it is, our scientific and cultural legacy may have been written already:

The first cloned baby in human history may very well be Baby Eve, a member of the alien-embassy-building, orgy-retreat-loving Raelian cult. So be it.


ALLISON J. HAZEN

Silver Spring

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