- The Washington Times - Friday, November 14, 2003

Let the punishment fit the crime

When one reviews the history of individuals who have been forced out of positions of high elective office, one sees a rogues’ gallery: government officials who have been found guilty of various types of corruption — extortion, bribery, official oppression, stealing public funds, hiring “ghost” employees.

In the case of expelled Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore (“Ten Commandments justice outed,” Nation, yesterday), none of these crimes has been claimed. Justice Moore’s offense was seeking to acknowledge in the public square that our nation was founded on the basis of God and law.

Justice Moore had a duty to follow the law, even laws that are unjust. Therefore, when he refused the court order to remove the Ten Commandments plaque he had placed at the state courthouse, he was wrong.

Should not the punishment fit the crime, though — if one can label Justice Moore’s action a crime? Is expulsion from his position fair and just? What grievous harm was inflicted upon those he served by the short-lived presence of a plaque that reminded people that they shalt not kill?

It is ironic that today, in the guise of the right to “free expression,” we take every step to protect the most vile, vulgar, offensive forms of hate speech, but let anyone mention God, and then there is a problem. Someone may be offended. Heaven forbid.

Despite this temporary setback, we should cry not for Justice Moore. I know that his era in public life is only in the dawn of its life. He surely will serve the people of Alabama with honor and distinction, as he serves the nation. To Justice Moore, a good and decent man, I say, “Godspeed, sir.”

OREN M. SPIEGLER

Upper St. Clair, Pa.

The key to the war against the Taliban

The report “Taliban leaders plotting in cities” (World, yesterday) is timely. With good reason, Afghan leaders and independent analysts have squarely laid the blame for the Taliban resurgence on Pakistan. Despite the expected bland denials from the Pakistanis, the following facts are indisputable:

To date, not a single one of the 500 or so people arrested and handed over by Pakistani authorities to the United States is a Taliban leader. A few months back, Afghan President Hamid Karzai gave Pakistani strongman Pervez Musharraf a list of top Taliban leaders comfortably ensconced in Pakistan. Gen. Musharraf has ignored his request. Western journalists have been able to meet top Taliban leaders in big Pakistani cities. Despite this, Pakistani authorities deny the Taliban leaders are in their country.

Time magazine quotes U.S. military officers saying that Pakistani border guards and troops, instead of stopping the Taliban, have attacked U.S. troops. To add to this, Pakistani madrassa graduates have provided an unlimited number of foot soldiers for cross-border attacks on U.S. troops. Despite this, Pakistani authorities have closed down not one madrassa in the border regions.

Evidently, Gen. Musharraf’s “cooperation” in the war on terror has degenerated into a Kabuki dance designed to show action where there is little. He outlawed a bunch of terrorist groups, only to have them continue under different names, and froze their accounts — but not before they were given time to withdraw their money. Last but not least, he has continued to tolerate the organic relationship between the jihad groups and Pakistan’s sinister intelligence service, the ISI. The implications of all of this for American troops fighting in Afghanistan are clear, and they are not sanguine.

If the Taliban resurgence at the cost of the lives and limbs of American troops will not spur the Bush administration to hold Pakistan accountable, what will?

KAUSHIK KAPISTHALAM

Atlanta

Protecting ‘Old Glory’

James Taranto’s remark (“Quote of the day,” Inside Politics, Nation, Thursday) that presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry favors “vigilante justice” in dealing with flag-burners gives rise to an analysis of Mr. Kerry’s confused and confusing position on protecting the flag.

He would resort to an illegal act (“I’d punch them in the mouth,” he was quoted as saying) to quell what is legal — the desecration of the flag of the United States. Even many flag-protection advocates won’t go that far.

He says, “I love that flag,” but he won’t support its legal protection. That’s tantamount to saying, “I love my mother, but it’s OK to slap her around.”

Most perplexing, he is willing and ready to physically stifle what he called “free expression” with a swift fist but not give support to the same principle within the law.

One firm conclusion to be drawn from this is that Mr. Kerry believes burning or desecrating the flag is wrong. Why else would he pummel a flag-burner?

His reason to act against flag-burners parallels the sentiment of tens of millions of Americans regarding their flag: Flag desecration is wrong, plain and simple. The Supreme Court made it legal, but nothing can make it right.

There is, however, a way to right the wrongheaded decision of the court, and that is through the support of a flag-protection constitutional amendment. The measure has passed the House and is pending action in the Senate. Mr. Kerry has a chance, yet, to show America just how much he really does “love that flag” by calling for its legal protection under the laws of the land.

MARTY JUSTIS

Executive director

Citizens’ Flag Alliance Inc.

Indianapolis

Sanctions and Syria

The writer of yesterday’s letter “Say no to sanctions” confuses the sanctions against Syria approved by the U.S. Congress with the much more stringent sanctions imposed by the United Nations on Iraq.

The sanctions against Iraq were partially successful, although Saddam Hussein was able to bypass the full impact of those strictures with assistance from his neighbors and an adequate food supply internally. (However, the sanctions were exacerbated by the sale of Iraqi food to supply military equipment for his armed forces.) In contrast, sanctions against Syria by the United States would be only an expression of distaste against the Syrian sponsorship of terrorism, with little economic impact.

However, the United States, contrary to other nations, is obligated to take a moral and ethical stance against the dictatorship of President Bashar Assad in light of his continuing actions. With the continuing occupation of Lebanon by Syria, the arming of Hezbollah and the sponsorship of Islamic Jihad, Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the United States is obligated to impose sanctions. No Syrian child will be deprived of food or medical supplies; only military equipment will no longer be forthcoming from the United States, a very small price for the Assad regime to pay for its sponsorship of worldwide terrorism.

NELSON MARANS

Silver Spring


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