- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 11, 2005

No need to rename military exercises

I am quite disappointed that Northern Command crumbled to perceived political pressure. The recent article “Military commands drop Indian terms from exercise titles” (Page 1, Wednesday) only adds credence to the argument that the military, and society in general, has gone overboard in pursuit of sensitivity and political correctness.

In the naming game, it would seem to me that American Indians would feel a sense of pride when the military attempts to capture the spirit associated with their proud traditions by ascribing such terms to exercises.

That aside, Adm. Timothy J. Keating and his staff obviously did not consider the greater implications of such a precedent-setting move. I can think of myriad Indian terms that would — if the same insanity is applied across the services — force us to rename the Apache helicopter and the Tomahawk cruise missile, to decommission the USS Chief and the USS Warrior, and to rename the ranks of chief petty officers in the Navy and Coast Guard.

Obviously, Adm. Keating would not accept a future appointment as chief of naval operations, at least not until it was renamed the “arrow” of naval operations.



NCAA’s mascot mistake

Saturday’s story “NCAA bans Indian mascots,” (Page 1) reveals the latest example of political correctness run amok. Here we have an association of colleges and universities whose purpose, according to its Web site, is “to govern competition in a fair, safe, equitable and sportsmanlike manner, and to integrate intercollegiate athletics into higher education so that the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount.” Where is it stated that part of its mission is to decide which mascots a member school can adopt?

The NCAA has violated one of its core tenets, which states that members and staff share a belief and commitment of “espect for institutional autonomy and philosophical differences.” This is why the ruling can apply only to NCAA-sponsored events and not other athletic competitions over which the NCAA cannot claim jurisdiction. But does anyone believe it would not impose its notion of political correctness on all athletic events if it had the authority?

Won’t this ruling make member schools that are prohibited from displaying their mascot at NCAA events very uncomfortable? Has the NCAA executive committee violated its own stated value that the “experience of the student-athlete is paramount”?

If you are a student-athlete competing for Florida State University or the University of Illinois, won’t your performance be influenced negatively by the fact that the NCAA doesn’t really want you there because of your school’s “offensive” mascot? Most people don’t go where they’re not wanted.

The schools being singled out for this ban should fight it. When an organization expands its authority by decree, it’s time for an overhaul. The NCAA executive committee is acting like an activist judiciary, seeking to impose its political philosophy on everyone else instead of respecting everyone’s individual philosophy, autonomy and — let’s not forget — diversity.


North Olmsted, Ohio

Standing firm on principle

In his recent article (“Confronting complacency,” Commentary, July 29), my good friend and colleague on the House Armed Services Committee Rep. Jim Saxton, New Jersey Republican, criticized those who voted against two amendments that he called “essential, common-sense provisions to help in the war on terror” and stated that those who opposed the amendments were “inadvertently assisting terrorists who have the stated aim of destroying this country and our way of life.” I disagree with his criticism.

Those two amendments, which I voted against, were offered separately by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Republican. Mr. Saxton quoted part of the Rohrabacher amendment, “to express the sense of Congress that the capture, detention, and interrogation of international terrorists are essential to the successful prosecution of the Global War on Terrorism …”

No one argues with this point, but study the final clause: “the detention facilities and interrogations at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, play an essential role in the security of the United States and should not be closed or ended while the United States is waging the Global War on Terrorism.”

Here’s the problem. The detention facilities at Guantanamo were set up by President Bush in his role as commander in chief, and under current law, the president has the flexibility to open, close or alter those facilities.

I am unaware of a compelling reason to eliminate this flexibility. One can easily imagine a time when Mr. Bush, or the next president, would decide for a variety of reasons to transfer these detainees elsewhere for detention and interrogation. The resolution cites no good reason for tying the hands of the commander in chief, and I voted no.

The second amendment, offered by Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen, consisted of three parts: the findings, the sense of Congress and the policy. The findings and policy portions were palatable, but the sense of Congress portion was offensive.

Clause 1 of this portion stated that “calls for an early withdrawal of United States and coalition forces are counterproductive to security aims of the United States …” and Clause 2 stated that “such calls for an early withdrawal embolden the terrorists and undermine the morale of the United States Armed Forces … and put their security at risk.”

I disagree with those Americans calling for troop withdrawal from Iraq now, but legitimate debate about the conduct of this war, and all wars, must be allowed on the floor of Congress, and amongst the American people.

Freedom of speech, to say nothing of the democratic process, is a core value of the United States and should not be sacrificed to some vague fear that Osama bin Laden watches C-SPAN or that our troops do not appreciate the value of a full-throttled debate even during war times.

Mr. Saxton and the author and other supporters of the amendment should instead engage in debate about the war and make the arguments that premature withdrawal is not helpful to our national security, an argument with which I agree. However, present me with an amendment meant to stifle debate, and I vote no.


Little Rock, Ark.

The trouble with the ICC

Monday’s “Transportation funding aims to ease congestion” (Metropolitan) again resurrects that perennial highway proposal, Maryland’s Intercounty Connector.

This highway has been studied and proposed, again and again, over the past five decades, and the total projected cost is more than $2.4 billion. This lush funding keeps many folks happy — the planners, engineers, real estate speculators and attorneys. Your report states that $18 million will be dedicated to further study. The funding over the years has been used to combat the opposition forces, who, by now, seem to be getting awfully tired. Will this disaster now reach fruition?

The world’s private automobile inventory will soon swell to more than 1 billion autos, with the U.S. and Japan leading the charge. This frenzy of more highways and more autos, accompanied by its associated greed, may doom us all.



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