- The Washington Times - Friday, August 20, 2004

Congratulations to local gymnast

Thank you for placing a dynamic “Sterling, but silver” photo of our local gymnast, Courtney Kupets, on the front page above the fold (Page 1, Wednesday). It is so frustrating when the U.S. women’s gymnastics team has truly remarkable athletes competing, and winning, against the world’s best, only to be relegated to the back pages of the sports section or even ignored by the local media. I remember this clearly when one had to search to find any stories about the Olympic-medal-producing performances of another Gaithersburg gymnast, Dominique Dawes. It’s not just that readers and viewers are fascinated by the sport of gymnastics, but hometown Olympic stars deserve to be treated accordingly.


North Potomac

Guilt-by-association tactics

It is quite embarrassing to read Arnaud de Borchgrave’s Thursday Commentary column,”Oozingvenomand jihad.” Specifically, he uses radical quotes from groups such as the mujahideen and other unrelated sources to vilify the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an organization that has no relationship with these groups and is founded on a mission of improving American-Islamic relations and increasing our understanding of the Muslim faith.

Making such guilt-by-association comparisons is like using quotes from Jewish Defense League member Irv Rubin to say all Jews are violent madmen or asserting that everything that Timothy McVeigh says represents the average Midwesterner.

Of course, it also is no different from having your Muslim readers believe that Mr. de Borchgrave’s article represents the racial hatred and bigotry all Americans have for their faith.

The truth is that, like every society before us, all communities have hatemongers as well as those who desire to build bonds and improve understanding.

Choosing along “these sides” rather than religious loyalties is the only way peace and understanding can be achieved. Toward this end, The Washington Times would better serve its readers by choosing to write about the positive “bridge- building” efforts that groups such as CAIR have undertaken rather than serving as a soapbox for hateful rhetoric meant only to increase divisiveness.



Kerry and the ‘Swiftees’

Isn’t it interesting that John Kerry calls for President Bush to denounce the Swift Boat television commercials (“Kerry insists veterans lie, blames Bush,” Page 1, yesterday)? The whole time Michael Moore was getting his film “Fahrenheit 9/11” praised and featured by the Democrats, I didn’t hear Mr. Bush whine once.

That film was a propaganda piece with almost everything taken out of context, and even people on the left were saying it was less than truthful as presented. Yet there was Michael Moore as one of the pampered guests at the Democratic National Convention.

Mr. Bush didn’t ask for the Swift Boat ad, and he didn’t pay for it. I find this ad more believable than Mr. Moore’s propaganda because the Swift Boat veterans aren’t just political hacks looking for their 15 minutes of fame.

It is interesting how the media don’t pursue these claims.


Whittier, Calif.

I want to thank The Washington Times for publishing extended excerpts from “Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry.” Otherwise, it would be impossible to read the book, at least here in relatively conservative Southern Maryland.

At Borders, for example, the book apparently is permanently “out-of-stock,” with no new shipments expected. This is in keeping with major media outlets, such as the TV networks, which seem to have declared a blackout of the book. Evidently, among liberals, free speech is limited to speech with which they agree. In any event, thanks again to The Times for allowing opposing viewpoints to be heard.


Waldorf, Md.

Friday’s editorial “No ‘hostile fire at all’ ” applauds other “major” news organizations for looking into the debate regarding Sen. John Kerry’s service in Vietnam and the differing views of men who served in that war. The last line of your editorial says these papers will be doing a great service “if they join the investigation and address the entire story — and not simply one part of it which they wish to debunk.”

After reading your series of editorials, I wonder why you don’t take your advice to heart? The only part of the story you have focused on debunking is a very simple fact: John Kerry served in Vietnam. He commanded a Swift Boat. Every man who served on that boat under him swears by his leadership and bravery.

Meanwhile, the anti-Kerry brigade is a group of men funded by Texas Republicans who have shoveled millions to support Texas right-wing politics for years.

Also, several of these vets previously came out publicly to laud Mr. Kerry for his bravery and leadership in Vietnam. And the president? Where was he? Did he serve in Vietnam? Why won’t he release his National Guard records?

Now, why don’t you and your colleagues take a bit of your own journalistic advice and report all of the facts and not just promote conjecture by people who were not in a position to witness actual events and whose motives are overtly political and obviously shameful.



A ‘waste of resources’

This letter is in response to Thursday’s story about the overwhelming opposition to student drug testing among Northern Virginia school districts (“Students reject drug testing policy,” Metropolitan).

School boards in the area understand that student drug testing is a waste of resources on an ineffective, costly and intrusive procedure. A 2003 study on the effectiveness of student drug testing performed by researchers at the University of Michigan concluded that testing simply does not work in reducing drug use among students, and other surveys support this finding.

But the truly troubling aspect of drug-testing students involved in extracurricular activities is that the invasiveness of the test can deter them from getting involved in those same activities, which make students less likely to use drugs and commit other crimes. The U.S. Department of Education and Department of Justice noted this connection in a 1998 report underscoring the importance of extracurricular involvement in crime and drug-use reduction among adolescents.

Another real concern for the school boards is that the invasive nature of urine drug testing can throw them into a quagmire of legal troubles. Though the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of drug-testing students involved in extracurricular activities in 2002, schools still must comply with a number of federal and state privacy protections. In many states, suspicionless drug testing may be illegal. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, for example, recently struck down a student drug-testing program as unconstitutional. Class-action lawsuits have been filed in other states. Given the dubious effectiveness of drug testing, Northern Virginia schools are smart to avoid the potentially high legal price involved.

In any case, even legal permission to test for drugs does not mean that it’s good school policy. The Northern Virginia schools mentioned in the article are to be commended for their prudence in not wasting valuable resources on a program destined for failure.



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