- The Washington Times - Monday, March 22, 2004

What’s in a (nation’s) name?

“Taiwan candidates rally supporters” (World, March 14) presented two presidential candidates’ policies toward China. Their policies are similar, but not identical. Neither want Beijing to rule Taiwan. The main difference between the two is over the name of the nation.

Many analysts believe that President Chen Shui-bian’s intention in holding a referendum Saturday was to separate Taiwan permanently from China by changing the name of the nation from the Republic of China (ROC) to the Republic of Taiwan (ROT). It has long been Mr. Chen’s goal to change the country’s name through referendum. Many countries, such as the United States, Japan, Germany and France, did not support the referendum because it was provocative. French President Jacques Chirac, for instance, called Mr. Chen’s referendum initiative a “grave mistake” that could destabilize the region.

Many people in Taiwan love the name ROC. When former President Lee Teng-hui, a separatist, intended to change the nation’s name in the late 1980s, then Defense Minister Hau Pei-tsun declared that the Nationalist Armed Forces would fight for the ROC but would not fight for the ROT. Last month, a Gallup poll showed that 51.77 percent of the surveyed population opposed the referendum. The Gallup poll also recorded that Lien Chan would lead Mr. Chen by 8.68 percentage points (38.26 vs. 29.58) if the presidential election were held on Feb. 14.

JAMES T.H. TSAO

Senior Editor

Journal of Asian Economics

Washington

No need to spin speech

In reading your coverage of Vice President Richard B. Cheney’s speech by Joseph Curl and Stephen Dinan (“Cheney decries Kerry devaluing of war allies,” Thursday, Page 1), I found it to be as much or more about what Sen. John Kerry said. I wanted to read the Cheney speech without deletions or additions. If I want to read or hear what Mr. Kerry says, I can get that from any of the partisan media out there. From The Washington Times I expect the straight story. Am I wrong here? I’ll put my own spin on it; just give me the facts.

JERRY L. FINCHER

Bremerton, Wash.

Jesus’ message central to ‘Passion’

The WashingtonTimes should be commended for the balanced forum it has provided for “The Passion of the Christ” discussion. Morton Kondracke’s Commentary column of March 16 (“Political fallout from ‘Passion’?”) even reviewed opinions on what political fallout might develop from the film. The only part of the column that diminishes it from an otherwise excellent and objective analysis of the film is the part that states, “…[Gibson] omits any exploration of Jesus’ message to the world — that of love, mercy, redemption and righteousness.” The film begins with a passage from the Jewish prophet Isaiah, “By his stripes we are healed.” There also is an additional passage that refutes the above statement regarding Mr. Gibson’s omission of Jesus’ mission: “No one takes my life from me but I lay it down of myself.” This should have settled the issue of anti-Semitism nearly 2,000 years ago.

JAMES P. CRASSAS

Silver Spring

Guardsmen, reservists go beyond call

I take issue with an assertion in “Cold realities in hot zone” (Commentary, Saturday) by Karl Zinsmeister.

Mr Zinsmeister states, “…demoralization can work both ways, and today it is Iraq’s insurgents who face physical and psychological defeat… Al Qaeda itself is now in shambles.”

American military families, especially those of reservists and National Guard members, are paying an unduly high physical and psychological price. According to a recent Los Angeles Times report, soon 40 percent of all American troops serving in Iraq will be either reservists or National Guard members. Overseas assignment creep is impacting tens of thousands of these patriotic people and their families, most of whom lack vital support resources and must manage on sharply reduced incomes. That’s demoralizing.

JAMES V. DOLSON

Springfield

Islamic democracies and the West

In Moroccan Ambassador Aziz Mekouar’s March 15 Op-Ed column, “Islam and democracy,” he writes, “There is nothing in the Islamic faith inconsistent with human rights, democracy, equality of men and women.” But religious freedom is not mentioned once.

Are believers of other faiths allowed to openly practice their beliefs, build houses of worship or evangelize in Morocco? I hope so, but such freedoms are not allowed in Saudi Arabia, the land of Islam’s holiest shrines. In the majority of countries where Islam is the dominant religion, religious freedom does not exist. If faiths other than Islam are allowed to exist, Islamic law says non-Islamic believers have to pay an extra religious tax, and they are not allowed to evangelize or maintain their houses of worship.

It is ironic that Saudi Arabia is allowed to provide millions of dollars to construct mosques in America, while Islamic law prohibits Jews or Christians from openly practicing their faith in Saudi Arabia. Democracy in America was founded on the vital principle of freedom of worship. Is Islam compatible with the concept of religious freedom?

PETER SHOCKEY

Taylor Mill, Ky.

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