- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 18, 2003

If Hinckley is sane…

Why can’t liberals leave the Reaganfamilyalone? (“Hinckley in ‘remission,’ ” Metropolitan, yesterday). First, CBS disturbs the family with that awful docudrama. Now, the Reagans have to worry that a judge might allow John W. Hinckley Jr. to roam free.

Hinckley nearly killed former President Ronald Reagan and severely wounded former presidential Press Secretary James T. Brady. He does not belong on the streets. If this madman had been successful in his attempt to kill Mr. Reagan, this country would still be fighting the Cold War. Mr. Reagan changed the world, and it is a safer place for his service.

If Hinckley has regained his sanity, he should be serving time in federal prison, not socializing on wine and cheese as a celebrity in Williamsburg.



Strip search?

In his half of the paired Commentary columns “Thankless task … and unmentionables” (Friday), Clarence Page writes, “The Patriot Act … allows the government to peek into the personal affairs of many people.” Yes, criminals’ personal affairs.

The only evidence cited by Mr. Page that federal agents are meticulously researching every penny spent by our citizenry is the use of financial data for successful indictments on multiple charges of wire fraud, extortion by a public official and conspiracy involving Las Vegas businesspeople and local politicians. Mr. Page seems concerned that a law enacted regarding terrorism is used to convict other criminals, as well — not your law-abiding neighbor, not your grandmother, but criminals. Judging by Mr. Page’s reaction, as well as the reactions of both Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Shelley Berkley, Nevada Democrats, you would think this is a very bad thing.

Mr. Page also expresses concern over the subpoena process under the financial-records section of the Patriot Act. Mr. Page chooses to overlook the fact that someone, usually in the prosecutor’s office, needs to approve a subpoena, and that approval process includes establishing reasonable suspicion that crimes are being committed. If, during a trial, the judge finds that the subpoena had an inadequate basis, all evidence resulting from the subpoena is thrown out. Not even a prosecutor drunk with Patriot Act power would approve an action that would ruin a case.

Finally, Mr. Page posits that the above convicted and indicted persons must feel as unjustly attacked as pro-life groups felt when the pro-abortion lobby tried to shut them up using racketeering laws. (The Supreme Court threw out that nonsense by a landslide of 8-1.) Is Mr. Page really so steeped in cultural relativism that he can compare those who defend the lives of unborn children to those who commit fraud and offer bribes?


Duluth, Minn.

Rock ‘n’ roll and the fall of communism

Hungarian Ambassador Andras Simonyi’s speech at the Rock and Roll Museum and Hall of Fame in Cleveland, in which he claimed that rock ‘n’ roll played a major role in the overthrow of communism, got remarkable publicity (“Rock ‘n’ roll,” Op-Ed, Friday).

Mr. Simonyi should be both congratulated and criticized for his accomplishment. He should be congratulated for the clever public relations that made his appearance at the Rock and Roll Museum and its attendant press coverage possible, but reproached for failing to distinguish between the individual right to freedom of speech and opinion and the obligations of an ambassador representing an entire nation.

Rock music may have been a ray of light in the dark days to him or a group with which he identified himself, and he is entitled to talk about it in front of any forum, in any length and context — as citizen Andras Simonyi. No one wants or has the right to take that away from him.

However, as ambassador, Mr. Simonyi should have used better judgment when reflecting on the society and culture of the country he represents. No matter how he wanted to impress the officials and guests at the Rock and Roll Museum with his love of rock ‘n’ roll music, he should have placed its role into proper perspective, including all the cultural, political and economic factors leading to the regime change.

The question is where the blame lies. Did Mr. Simonyi make a mistake by allowing his personal experiences and ambitions to interfere with his diplomatic obligations? Or was Mr. Simonyi’s presentation cleared by his superiors? If the latter is the case, his speech is another sad example of how the current socialist government in Hungary grabs any opportunity not to give credit where credit is due and to belittle the importance of the Hungarian people’s own political, social and cultural efforts to break away from the socialist bloc.



American-Hungarian Folklore Centrum

Teaneck, N.J.

Behind the veil

Larry Larsson’s write-up on Sunday’s Forum page (“Slaves called ‘wives’ “) about the plight of Muslim women is an incisive and timely analysis of the state of women’s rights in the Islamic world. Whereas the writer aptly pinpoints the flaws in Muslim cultures and the disastrous measures often taken against women, he masterfully balances his narration by mentioning the fortunate 300 million who remain somewhat safe from the claws of misery and pain.

One may add that apart from Saudi Arabia, a country that perhaps has the worst possible human rights record on the face of this planet, there are several other Muslim societies, namely in Afghanistan and Iran, in which both women and men are targeted by their states, intelligence agencies or communities. It may, however, not be out of place to mention here that the religion of Islam upholds the principles of human rights and liberties, and it is only the present-day rulers who are bringing a bad name to the religion.

The other appropriate example cited by the writer is that of Pakistan, a country almost wrecked by years of religious extremism. Starting from the days of dictator Zia al-Haq down to the present regime of Gen. Pervez Musharraf, religion has been exploited for political advantage, ending in the eventual Talibanization of the entire body politic. Zia’s so-called Shariah laws killed the advancement of human rights in Pakistan. Draconian punishments handed out to women withoutmuchevidence through the Hudood Ordinance (a set of Islamic regulations still in effect) were the hallmark of the despot’s 11-year rule. It is indeed a sad commentary on a country founded by a secular-minded gentleman, Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

The lack of education, the economic degradation and the absence of an adequate system of checks and balances provide an ideal setting for human rights abuses in any society or culture. What is required to prevent that is a sustained and widespread effort from governments and nongovernmental organizations interested in helping the downtrodden and the unfortunate 200 million Muslim women who deserve a better deal. However, unless prosperous and powerful countries such as the United States make a strong commitment to pressure oppressive Islamic regimes to change their attitudes and policies, there seems little hope of women in those societies seeing a turnaround of fortune.


Rockville, Md.

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