- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 15, 2004

U.N. worth the investment

What are people who dislike the United Nations thinking? Some, such as Cal Thomas (“Getting out,” Commentary, Sunday), say the United Nations doesn’t serve our interests. I guess it’s true: We seem to find it against our interests to sign the treaties the rest of the world has on torture, land mines, creating biological weapons, the rights of women and children, the environment and international law.

And no, the United Nations’ interests were not the same as ours, as evidenced by its warnings against a war with Iraq after U.N. inspectors destroyed most of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.

Yes, the United Nations is weak — it was, unfortunately, created that way on purpose. The necessary solutions to strengthen it into the strong and effective organization we need are well-known and just require its member countries to exert the will to empower it to deal with world problems.

And yes, there is a U.N. scandal, and, as with the United States’ Halliburton scandal, it will be addressed. Keep in mind that the United Nations costs each American a tiny fraction compared to our military budget.

If we put more resources into the United Nations and share more of the financial and military burden, we could make a secure, healthy and profitable investment for all the world’s citizens.

DEBBIE METKE

Milwaukee

No surprise here

It is not surprising that the president of the United States declined to meet with Italian Cabinet member Rocco Buttiglione (“Buttiglione cites ‘anti-Christian’ fad,” World, Sunday). Rather than crying religious persecution, perhaps Mr. Buttiglione should consider his religious and ethnic bigotry and his discriminatory actions toward immigrants in his native Italy the source of his discomfort.

Mr. Buttiglione, quoted in Le Monde, says certain groups have a “high level of criminality,” unlike “those who are Catholic and Christian,” a point he wants taken into account for fixing quotas for immigration into Europe. In defending Catholic religious symbols in Italian public schools, he demeaned Muslims in a BBC Online article: “In my opinion, the cross should stay and … it’s not up to a crazy Muslim activist to forbid it. It’s our business, not his.” He also has proclaimed in the Los Angeles Times that AIDS is “divine punishment for homosexuality and drug use.” In each of these cases, he has gone beyond the personal expression of these views and opposed legislation that would respect the rights of migrants, religious minorities and homosexuals. His views are not simply those of a conservative Catholic; they are unacceptable bigotry.

His offensive positions and statements doomed his nomination as commissioner-designate for freedom, security and justice to the European Parliament because, as Josep Borrell, the president of the European Parliament, stated, “It does not seem to me that in this day and age we can have people in charge of justice — especially justice — who think like that.”

ELFRIEDE HARTH

European representative

Catholics for a Free Choice

Versailles, France

Is Metro ready for winter?

I roared with laughter when I saw the picture of the Rube Goldberg de-icing unit at the top center of Tuesday’s Metropolitan front page and read the “serious” article that accompanied the picture. Maybe Metrorail is in more trouble than I thought. I wonder where it managed to find million-dollar duct tape.

That and the picture on Page B8 of the holding tanks and power cart prove that marvelous engineering minds have outdone themselves on the neatness exercised in the installation of the latest 21st-century technology. I’m sure snow and ice were found in the D.C. area when the talented Pierre L’Enfant mapped out the city in 1791. So why has it has taken Metrorail 30-plus years to figure out that we have ice and snow in winter?

MIKE O’ROURKE

Oak Hill, Va.

Regarding the article “Metro to install de-icing units”: The photographs by Roey Yohai depict some pretty crude design details in the wiring of the de-icing units. In fact, “jerry-rigging” would best define them.

Specifically, in the photo on B1, that old standby, duct tape, is being used to adhere an electric cable to the body of a Metro car, and in the B8 photo of the de-icing unit, the connecting wires are draped casually between units or handily wrapped around the handle of the trolley bearing the Brentwood unit.

As an engineer, I would like to see the specifications and drawings describing this installation. No wonder Metro has a poor maintenance history.

SCOTT SPAULDING

Fort Washington

Stop blaming ‘the white man’

I read John McCaslin’s Inside the Beltway item, “Brothers behind bars” (Monday, Nation), in which Rep. Charles Rangel, New York Democrat, talks about the “alarming overrepresentation”of black men in the U.S. penal system. He’s upset that two-thirds of the U.S. prison population consists of racial and ethnic minorities. Black men in their 20s have a 1-in-8 chance of being locked up, and black males born today have a 1-in-3 chance of going to prison during their lifetimes, compared to a 1-in-17 chance for white males.

As a black man, I am upset by this as well, but as a conservative, I am infuriated by the “reason” Mr. Rangel gives for this crisis. Apparently, he is attributing this serious problem to a “racist” criminal justice system instead of the criminally anti-social behavior of many black men. “Despite the notion that the scales of justice is [sic] blind, it is no secret that racial bias plays a deplorable role in the disproportionate conviction and sentencing of African-American men, compared to their racial counterparts, who are charged with the same or a similar offense,” Mr. Rangel says.

Nonsense. This represents the classic knee-jerk “blame the white man” response by the modern-day black “leadership” in dealing with virtually every social and economic ill that has befallen the black community since the end of the civil rights movement. Too many black men behind bars? Blame the white man. Seventy percent black illegitimacy rate? Blame the white man. Middle-class black students academically underperforming compared to white, Asian and Caribbean immigrant students? Blame the white man.

Instead of placing responsibility where it belongs — on the anti-social behavior of black American males and the victimologist, separatist and anti-intellectual black subculture from which it is bred, not to mention three generations of open-ended welfare that deprived black Americans of any incentive to better themselves — Mr. Rangel, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and their ilk resort to the same tired excuse. And that’s all it is — an excuse. Instead of combating the aforementioned social ills and admonishing blacks to take responsibility for their actions and lives, today’s black “leaders” continue to play the race card while screaming for more government handouts.

This explains why solutions to black-male incarceration and other problems in the black community will forever remain elusive.

DUTCH MARTIN

Arlington

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