- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 29, 2003

In defense of the NAACP

“It is difference of opinion that makes horse races,” said Mark Twain. It is in that vein that I take issue with the insinuation in the July 22 “Pruden On Politics” commentary that members and leaders of the NAACP are: “some of the most accomplished shakedown artists this side of the Rev. Jesse Jackson.”

Although I’ve been a Republican for more than 30 years, I view the 93-year-old NAACP as a historical and contemporary champion of social justice for all black Americans. The column used the term “shakedown artists” in reference to NAACP officials and their handling of the politicians and corporate contributors who came to the group’s Miami convention. Many black Americans, despite political affiliation, believe that NAACP members have fought too long and hard from the ballot box to the classroom for us to allow your defamation to go unchallenged.

It is true that Kweisi Mfume and Julian Bond are part, parcel and products of the Democratic Party, but their slavish adherence to that party should not overshadow the work the NAACP has engaged in, now, and even before Wesley Pruden and I were born. From bold investigations of mob brutality, protests of mass murders, segregation and discrimination, to testimony before congressional committees on tactics used to bar black Americans from the ballot box; NAACP members saved lives and changed many negative aspects of American society.

For decades, the NAACP fought campaigns against the lynching of black Americans. Through its membership, and its Crisis magazine publication, it was, and is, also involved in battles against segregation and racial discrimination in housing, education, employment, voting and transportation. Though the days of lynching may be gone, much still needs to be done in the other areas. Will you help?

When you say: “Shakedown artists are, after all, artists,” referring to corporate “largess” the organization received at the convention, note that the NAACP’s 500,000 members may not include all 30 million black Americans; but America’s makers of consumer goods recognize that supporting the group, as they do for scores of other organizations, bodes well for them getting their “fair share” of the $400 billion black-consumer market.

WILLIAM REED

President

Business Exchange Network

Washington

Check immigrants’ status

The story, “Police won’t ask aliens of status” (Metropolitan, yesterday), states, “D.C. police officers making routine stops are prohibited from asking people about their immigration status, Metropolitan Police officials said yesterday in a restatement of department policy.”

If someone had made that statement on Sept. 12, 2001, shock waves would have been felt throughout the United States. Yet, not even two years after the attack on Americans by foreigners on our soil, U.S. politicians and law enforcement continue to profit from legal and illegal immigration from Third World countries. While they go through the motions of making grandmothers take off their shoes before boarding an airplane, they protect aliens from our laws by forbidding police to check resident status. When the next attack comes, and it will, the American people should hold accountable all these politicians, from the president on down to the city council members, who aid and abet illegal aliens while Americans are sitting ducks for terrorism.

Law enforcement is also accountable for not standing up for the principles of enforcing our laws. Police chiefs and sheriffs are happy that they don’t have to do all that paperwork. So, why are we paying their salaries? Why do we have the Department of Homeland Security? What is this nonsense about colors: red, orange and yellow to alert us about terrorism while potential terrorists run around among us, undisturbed? What an insult to the memory of those who perished on September 11, 2001.

HAYDEE PAVIA

Laguna Woods, Calif.

A different type of segregation

With the news that New York City is opening a full-fledged high school for homosexual students — the first of its kind in the nation, and probably not the last (“New York public school set to open for homosexual teens,” Nation, yesterday), it seems that liberals are the ones turning back the clock on civil rights.

I thought liberals opposed “separate but equal,” but here we have them advocating a school for teen-agers based on their sexual orientation at an age when they shouldn’t be having any sex of any kind.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, “I think everybody feels that it’s a good idea because some of the kids who are gays and lesbians have been constantly harassed and beaten in other schools.” By that argument, segregated schools were justified because blacks were often harassed and beaten by whites.

Maybe we should have special schools for other children who have gotten picked on by bullies since the days of the proverbial little red schoolhouse — overweight children, children who wear glasses, the class nerd, etc. The answer to thugs and bullies is discipline and expulsion.

Segregated schools were deemed unconstitutional long ago, and today there is vehement opposition to separate schools based on gender, even though there is empirical evidence that boys and girls learn differently and learn better in separate environments where boy-girl distractions are removed. In the University of Michigan affirmative action case, we were told how important diversity was for different races to learn from each other in an academic environment.

It should be named after George Orwell in honor of the Animal Farm worldview of liberals where everyone is equal but some are more equal than others.

DANIEL JOHN SOBIESKI

Chicago, Ill.

Healthy lifestyle for good health

Your article, “Ice-cream suits leave folks cold” (Business, Monday), highlighting the absurdity of lawsuits against the food industry over Americans’ expanding waistlines was right on target. Although obesity is a serious health threat to millions of Americans, lawsuits and finger-pointing are not realistic solutions.

Ultimately, the only effective, lasting solution to the obesity epidemic lies in empowering consumers with sufficient nutrition information and encouraging increased physical activity.

As a mother and past president of the American Dietetic Association, I’m pleased to see food producers doing their part to help consumers make wiser choices about nutrition. Surveys and interviews consistently demonstrate that people recognize they are ultimately responsible for maintaining a healthy weight — they just want some help and guidance.

However, nutrition is only half of the healthy lifestyle equation. Declining physical activity is the other contributing factor to this obesity problem. When you consider that only one state — Illinois — requires daily physical education classes for grades K-12 and that technological improvements have created an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, it’s no wonder that our nation’s weight problem is getting worse.

To that end, the American Council for Fitness and Nutrition is working hard on behalf of food and beverage producers to promote comprehensive, lasting policies and programs that will improve nutrition education and physical activity in our communities, workplaces, schools and homes.

Your paper is absolutely right in saying we aren’t going to eliminate obesity with frivolous lawsuits and finger-pointing. But we can beat it with education, motivation, support — and an honest look in the mirror at the person most responsible for our individual health and weight.

SUSAN FINN

Chair

American Council for Fitness and Nutrition

Washington

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