- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 17, 2003

A different kind of victim

As both a Jew whose family members were murdered by Nazis and the coordinator for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ “Holocaust on your Plate” exhibit, I’m disappointed that Brian Bishop (“No comparison between Bush and Hitler,” Letters, Tuesday) did not understand our use of graphic photographs to show the similarities between oppression and murder during the Holocaust and the slaughter of animals raised for food.

The exhibit is based on the thoughts and lives of Holocaust survivors and others who lost entire families and responded by rejecting cruelty to all beings (please read their own words on MassKilling.com).

We are not suggesting that people and animals are identical. We are saying that while the victims are different species, the system of confinement, abuse, prejudice and slaughter are the same. Tragically, those who dismiss the mutilation of animals on factory farms today and who ignore their frightened faces peering out through the slats of the trucks taking them to their deaths, sound hauntingly similar to those who dismissed the suffering of Jews because they were “unworthy of life.” As Jewish philosopher Theodor Adorno, who fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s, wrote, “Auschwitz begins wherever someone looks at a slaughterhouse and thinks: They’re only animals.”



MATT PRESCOTT

Campaign coordinator

People for the Ethical Treatment

of Animals

Norfolk

Developmental problems in San Mateo

On July 12, The Washington Times published an article by Thomas Sowell, an economist based at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, titled, ” ‘Saving crusade’ with a track record.” Mr. Sowell accused the “Save Bay Meadows” group in San Mateo, Calif., and its spokesperson, of leading a phony effort to save the Bay Meadows racetrack. Based on evidence that the spokesperson for the group had never in 19 years of living in San Mateo attended a horse race at Bay Meadows, Mr. Sowell jumped to the conclusion that the only explanation for this group’s interest in Bay Meadows was to restrict any housing development that might allow moderate -income folks to settle in San Mateo, specifically blacks, thereby threatening San Mateo’s exclusive white enclave. The only problem with Mr. Sowell’s gleefully argued article is that it is false.

Mr. Sowell has chosen to yell racial discrimination to advance his radically conservative economic philosophy. Mr. Sowell strongly believes that if a small group of people raise the money, they have a right to build or destroy whatever they choose, over any the objections of citizens or elected officials. It doesn’t matter what a community might need or want, the rights of the developers are not to be interfered with. This is capitalism devoid of social responsibility.

As a citizen, the spokesperson for Save Bay Meadows should have the right to express concerns about traffic problems and strained city resources that huge developments inevitably bring, the historical importance of Bay Meadows, and its ongoing economic value without being a horseracing fan.

Mr. Sowell argues that redeveloping Bay Meadows into offices and apartments will help to lower housing costs. It should be kept in mind that “luxury apartments” make up a small portion of the completed practice track and the proposed main track project, most of which is dedicated to office and retail space: Rents for one of these “moderate”-priced, one-bedroom, 651-square-foot apartments begin at $1,640. And, the leasing agent commented that she didn’t think any of those were available. Two-bedroom houses in San Mateo’s Shoreview neighborhood can be leased for several hundred dollars less per month. Redevelopment projects, almost without exception, as seen in many San Francisco neighborhoods, have created housing that is less affordable.

Had Mr. Sowell done a little homework on San Mateo County, and if a trip to San Mateo was not convenient (the Hoover Institute must have access to Census 2000), he would have discovered that San Mateo is blessed with racial and ethnic diversity on a par with many counties in a state that is the most racially and ethnically diverse in the nation.

Mr. Sowell used a false racial discrimination argument to bolster an offensive economic philosophy. If we conclude that San Mateo County’s housing development problems and policies are responsible for the declining black population in the county, as Mr. Sowell does, we let society as a whole off the hook for the very real racial discrimination that many blacks continue to experience in the United States.

LINDA SCHINKEL

San Mateo, Calif.

First-rate book reviews

I would just like to say that the book section of The Washington Times has quietly become one of the best. I read quite a few book reviews and other articles for linking from a conservative review that I edit online (www.reductioadabsurdum.net), and your book review page supplies great linking material.

Thanks again for the good work. The page is simply invaluable, for conservatives (of course), but really for anyone interested in ideas.

KEVIN WHITED

Houston

Smokey says ‘Healthy Forests’ can prevent fires

Steve Chapman’s Sept. 9 Commentary, “Soaking taxpayers to douse fires,” was one of the better attempts to explain Forest Service policy regarding wild land fire response. It was accurate on a number of points, but requires clarification on others.

We agree that “trying to snuff out every puff of smoke” in our national forests is a losing battle, especially for the thousands of people who live in wild-land urban-interface areas. The Forest Service’s long-standing practice of fire exclusion and limited active management have left forests densely populated with hundreds of small trees that are prone to catastrophic fire under drought conditions. People and property are at risk. To reduce that risk and cultivate healthy forests, it is imperative that we act now. We need a better approach, and we have a better approach with the Healthy Forests Initiative.

The Healthy Forests Initiative enables us to do what is needed to protect homes and communities. It allows us to trim undergrowth, reduce debris, clear flammable materials in the wild-land urban interface and beyond, and, yes, get fire back into the ecosystem when it is safe. It also gives us tools and a forum to sit down at the local level and decide exactly what long-term outcomes we all want for the land and what we need to do to get there. The stewardship contracting authority granted by Congress is one of those commonsense tools. It helps sustain the forest economy, while ensuring that critical restoration work is completed at little or no cost to the taxpayer.

These actions will spur sustainable, healthy forests that are available to all for many generations and recover a part of our heritage as Americans: our magnificent forests and the values they represent. We think the values are worth it, and we’re sure you do, too.

MARK E. REY

Undersecretary

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Natural Resources and Environment

Washington

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