- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 22, 2005

All in the family

Thank you for including the Harrison family in your list of political dynasties in yesterday’s special inauguration insert (“Rise of ‘dynasty’ quick, far-reaching,”). They are often overlooked.

You could have included John Scott Harrison, son of President William Henry Harrison and father of President Benjamin Harrison. John Scott Harrison was a member of Congress. Additionally, President Benjamin Harrison’s son Russell was an Indiana legislator, and Russell’s son, William Henry Harrison II, was a member of Congress.

If you count the four generations of Benjamin Harrisons prior to the Benjamin who was the signer of the Declaration of Independence, the Harrisons served in public office for 10 straight generations.


South Riding, Va.

Historically incorrect

This is in response to the letter of Thomas J. Ryan (“Politically correct or historically correct?” Wednesday). Mr. Ryan states that Gen. Robert E. Lee fought against his former country to defend slavery. Nothing could be further from the truth. Lee did not approve of slavery and did not want Virginia to secede. Nor did he want the coming war. I believe the following quote by Lee in 1856 sums up his views regarding slavery:

“There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil.”

Lee felt it should be left up to God as to when slavery would no longer be an institution of the United States. Though that may not be a glowing endorsement of emancipation, it does counter the claims made by Mr. Ryan that somehow Lee went to war to defend slavery.

Only after President Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to put down secession of the Deep South did Lee decide to defend what he considered to be his country — the Commonwealth of Virginia. Up to that point, many in America had more allegiance to their home states than the country as a whole. So, for Lee, it simply was a question of whether he could fight against his ancestral home or defend it from invasion.

As to the question of defending slavery, maybe Mr. Ryan should look toward his own state. While the people of Delaware rejected secession, it continued as a slave state throughout the War Between the States. Delaware also rejected the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery in the United States in 1865, and finally got around to voting in favor of the amendment in 1901.



DDT can save lives now

It is indeed “inexplicable” that DDT is not being used to get rid of the mosquitoes breeding in the innumerable pools of stagnant and polluted water left behind by the tsunami that resulted from the Sumatra earthquake — despite the fact that diseases already endemic to Southeast Asia, such as malaria and dengue fever, are spread by mosquitoes and may kill more people than those natural events. In many quarters, DDT is considered “more dangerous to humans than malaria.” (“How to combat malaria, ” Editorial, Tuesday).

In Sri Lanka, one of the countries devastated by the tsunami, there were 2.8 million cases of malaria in 1948 and 7,300 malaria deaths. With widespread DDT use, malaria cases fell to 17 in 1963, and deaths fell to zero. After discontinuing DDT use, malaria cases once again reached 2.5 million cases by 1968, and the disease remains a killer there today.

As staggering as the tsunami death toll is, that figure pales in comparison to the death toll caused by the continuing ban on DDT use. According to the World Health Organization, worldwide, malaria infects 300 million people, with deaths in the millions.

In 1970, a committee of the National Academy of Sciences wrote: “To only a few chemicals does man owe as great a debt as to DDT. In a little more than two decades, DDT has prevented 500 million deaths due to malaria that otherwise would have been inevitable.”

DDT was seen as such a miracle that it earned Dr. Paul Muller the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1948. The World Health Organization says that from 30 million to 60 million people have died from malaria since the 1970s. Most of those deaths could have been prevented with the use of DDT.

Despite the hysteria whipped up against the chemical in the early 1970s by Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring,” DDT is an effective killer of disease-carrying mosquitoes that poses no threat to man.

For those whose lives might have been saved through its use, it will be a silent spring indeed.



Give President Abbas time

Zalman Shoval’s attack on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (“After the Palestinian elections,” Op-Ed, Thursday) was a transparent effort to delegitimize the newly elected leader before he has a chance to act on his long-held beliefs about the need to stop Palestinian violence against Israeli targets.

Although neutral observers have said the Palestinian elections were largely free and democratic, Mr. Shoval hastens to remind readers about some “irregularities,” which there were. But were these instances any more significant than the irregularities in the most recent Likud primaries? Do those Israeli irregularities diminish the landslide victory of the Likud party in the most recent Knesset elections?

Mr. Shoval implies that Mr. Abbas’ call for a nonviolent struggle against Israeli occupation can be dismissed because it is based on pragmatism, not principle. A principled stand would be welcome,. but it’s safe to say that thousands of Israeli victims of Palestinian violence would have preferred Mr. Abbas’ approach over the terrorism that destroyed their lives, no matter what motivates his views.

Mr. Shoval incorrectly states that Mr. Abbas does not support any compromise on issues such as borders, Jerusalem and refugees. Though it is true that Mr. Abbas holds the same basic starting positions as his predecessor on the demand for an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital and a just resolution to the Palestinian refugee situation, Mr. Abbas has shown flexibility within those parameters and has a demonstrated track record of being a reasonable negotiating partner with Israel in political discussions.

The real question is whether Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is willing to move beyond his vision of a truncated, nonviable Palestinian state in such a way that would give confidence to the Palestinians that they should undertake significant political, economic and security changes in the short term because they will lead eventually to an outcome that they could embrace in the long term.

On the other hand, Mr. Shoval raises a legitimate concern about whether Mr. Abbas can translate his desire to stop violence and terrorism against Israelis into results on the ground. Although Mr. Abbas’ intentions are good, the jury is still out on what those intentions can produce.

Yet it is clear that Israel and the United States need to give the Palestinian president a decent chance to reach his goals. More than four years of Israeli military strikes against Palestinian targets may have weakened Palestinian terrorist groups, but they have not eliminated those groups.

Perhaps — just perhaps — Mr. Abbas’ plan to deploy Palestinian security forces against the terrorists while engaging them in political discussions to reach a cease-fire will produce better results.

For the sake of Israelis who have been subjected to countless mortar and rocket attacks on both sides of the Green Line in recent months, Israel and the United States should be doing their utmost to help Mr. Abbas succeed.


President and CEO

Americans for Peace Now


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