- The Washington Times - Monday, May 10, 2004

‘A great editor’

I learned of Woody West’s recent untimely demise with great sorrow. I wish I had the chance to get into the memorial page you published.

Mr. West was a great editor who could make anyone look good. He was kind, thoughtful and considerate. He also was always willing to take on new writers at least once. He made the Civil War page into a nationally read feature. In doing so, he brought consciousness of that momentous conflict into the lives of readers all over the country.

He would consider all points of view and provide his own wise counsel to budding writers.

Mr. West will be deeply missed by a great many people, including the writers he nurtured, and the readers who learned so much, as well as patriotic Americans generally.

CLARENCE D. LONG III

Contributor to Civil War page

Springfield

Mugabe-style revisionism

I was happy to see The Washington Times condemn the applause for Robert Mugabe at the inauguration of South African President Thabo Mbeki (“Hold the applause,” Editorial, Thursday).

I was less happy to see The Times contribute, albeit in a small way, to the false revision of recent African history. It was stated that Mr. Mugabe was a major contributor in ending apartheid. That is not true.

Apartheid was voted out of existence by the white minority in 1989. A few years later, the same white minority gave F.W. de Klerk authority to institute majority rule. As for Mr. Mugabe, he had less to do with it than the African National Congress. Mr. Mugabe did nothing for South Africa and little for Zimbabwe.

After the white minority government of Rhodesia, under Ian Smith, declared independence from Britain in 1965, Mr. Mugabe fought against that government for 15 years, during which he clearly demonstrated that he and the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front couldn’t liberate their way out of a paper bag. It was only when Cuban troops appeared in Angola that the United States became interested enough in the region to pressure Mr. Smith’s government to move toward full democracy.

Even then Mr. Mugabe accepted an agreement under which whites, who made up only 4 percent of the population at the time, were guaranteed 20 percent of the seats in the national legislature. The facts do not support the image of conquering hero Mr. Mugabe seeks to bestow upon himself.

The myth being fostered, that the ZANU-PF and the ANC were successful liberation movements, is both false and destructive. Democracy came to South Africa under almost ideal circumstances for creating a democratic and civil society. The myth of ANC liberation undermines that ongoing process and helps keep the ANC in power despite 40 percent unemployment and criminal policies regarding the AIDS epidemic.

Furthermore,Western newspapers are supporting the broader myth. During the height of Mr. Mugabe’s “land reform,” U.S. newspapers frequently made reference to Mr. Mugabe’s having “driven out the British in 1980.” That is fiction, shows poor research and amounts to ZANU-PF propaganda.

DOUGLAS M. FORBES

Greenfield, Ind.

Speaking of surpluses

There is apparently no limit to Rep. Steny Hoyer’s shameless political demagoguery. In Thursday’s article “Democrats praise party’s fiscal restraint” (Nation), Mr. Hoyer boasted of a $61 billion surplus during the eight years of the Clinton administration and said, “examination of the facts shows that Democrats, as they have been and are now, the party of fiscal responsibility while Republicans are the party of fiscal recklessness.”

An examination of the facts shows that the Clinton administration’s budget surpluses were not the result of fiscal responsibility, as Mr. Hoyer claims, but instead came from the largest tax increase in our country’s history in 1993, with the support of Mr. Hoyer.

Perhaps Mr. Hoyer has conveniently forgotten Bill Clinton’s candid admission in 1995, “You think that I raised your taxes too much. Well, it might surprise you to know that I think I raised them too much, too.”

Mr. Hoyer also appears to have forgotten that the 1997 Balanced Budget Agreement produced the first budget surplus in 29 years, but only after the Republicans regained control of Congress.

This is yet another example of what is commonly referred to as “Hoyer’s hooey.”

VERNON GRAY

California, Md.

Plan B and politics

The Times presents a remarkably uncritical report of the Bush administration’s successful attempt to block over-the-counter sales of the Plan B emergency contraceptive (“Morning-after pills won’t go over the counter,” Page 1, Friday).

After several paragraphs of Republican paeans to the FDA for demonstrating concern for “our nation’s teens,” imagine my surprise at discovering on Page A11, deep into the story, that 23 out of 27 members of the FDA’s own advisory panel had recommended over-the-counter sales of this drug. A more palpable example of the administration’s politicization of scientific and medical findings would be difficult to imagine.

The Times then offers the last word to Wendy Wright from Concerned Women for America. Miss Wright opines that the FDA was “right to be cautious about having a potent drug that can harm women next to candy bars and toothpaste.” She would do well to obtain a bottle of candy-flavored, cartoon-character-shaped Flintstones complete vitamins. I quote from the label, “Accidental overdose of iron-containing products is a leading cause of fatal poisoning in children under 6. Keep this product out of reach of children.”

Perhaps the Concerned Women for America need to redirect their concern. Or at least admit to their true agenda.

SCOTT KENYON

Vienna

Clintonian totalitarianism?

Leave it to Nat Hentoff to cite a minor example of how President Bill Clinton was no civil libertarian: signing the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (“A surprise for Sen. Hatch,” Op-Ed, May 3).

Maybe the most egregious example was Mr. Clinton calling the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights the greatest document ever.

The problem with this document is that it delegates power to the United Nations to rescind those rights at its own will, rather than recognizing that those rights are bestowed by a power higher than any human individual or group and, therefore, inalienable. I wonder why Mr. Hentoff didn’t cite any real examples of Clintonian and U.N. totalitarianism.

DAVID COLPO

Tuscaloosa, Ala.

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