- The Washington Times - Friday, May 27, 2005

Heighten awareness of the poor

Two weeks ago, Mexican President Vicente Fox reportedly told a group of business leaders in Mexico: “There is no doubt that Mexican men and women — full of dignity, willpower and a capacity for work — are doing the work that not even blacks want to do in the United States” (“Fox ‘regretted’ remark on U.S. black labor, Page 1, May 17). It’s pretty clear to me that Mr. Fox meant — and his choice of words is significant — that Mexicans are taking jobs that poor Americans refuse to take. Since then, there have been calls for an apology from the Mexican president. As an African American, I couldn’t care less whether Mr. Fox apologizes for his remarks. Apologies are too often empty words spoken in response to political pressure. What I do care about is that the face of poverty in America is black even though the majority of poor Americans are white. It also concerns me that unless they are involved in racially controversial issues, such as gentrification or Mr. Fox’s remarks, poor people have disappeared from our media’s radar screens. Hence, Americans don’t know much about them. In a commercial media culture obsessed with celebrities and the rich, and in a political culture obsessed with the middle class, Mr. Fox’s ignorance about poor Americans is shared increasingly by millions of Americans and foreigners alike. We can and should do better.

KOJO NNAMDI WHUT-TV WAMU-Radio Washington

The ‘soul’ of the stem-cell debate

I agree that the reasons offered for the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act sidestep the ethical issues that accompany the use of embryonic stem cells. However, your editorial “Stem-cell research and today’s vote” (Tuesday), also failed in this capacity, as has practically everything else I have heard from pundits and politicians on both sides of the debate. The fundamental issue here is whether embryos have souls and thus constitute lives that require the same legal protection as children and adults. If so, we should ban the practice of destroying embryos in fertility clinics, regardless of whether the stem cells could be used for research. The biological makeup of embryos less than a week old is far from the roughly 10 billion neurons, 10 trillion connections, and multitude of chemical and electrical processes that make up the human brain. Given this immense difference, the onus is on opponents to explain why they hold their basic premise. I urge your editors to carefully examine the answer they have to offer.

CHRIS GLAZE Baltimore

In her letter published May 23, Angela Villar complains, “President Bush believes that after eight days in a petri dish, a group of cells is equivalent to you, your mother and father.” I believe she’s right in perceiving the president’s position on embryos, but the president’s position is right and is not to be lamented. That “group of cells” is a human being; his or her gender is determined, as are his or her characteristics. Why would Miss Villar insinuate that the “group of cells” is less than human? What are her criteria for determining whether one “group of cells” is human and another group isn’t? Is the key factor the number of cells or size of the group? If so, would she contend that a 2-year-old is less human than a 20-year-old? After all, the toddler certainly has fewer cells than the adult; similarly, the toddler is less developed than the adult. Is there an inequality in humanity between the two, one that can be proved? If not, we may assume that Ms. Villar’s criteria for determining humanity, and thus human rights, are rather specious. The same would go for all the other proponents of embryonic stem cell research. To use tiny human beings as guinea pigs for experimentations is barbaric and ghoulish and harkens back to the days of the Nazi doctors under Hitler and their hideous experimentations. I could also point out that adult stem-cell research has shown much more promise than has embryonic stem-cell research; put the funding where the real results are. However, even if that weren’t true, embryonic stem-cell research would be morally unacceptable. The ends simply don’t justify the means, especially when those means involve the wanton murder of tiny people simply because they’re tiny.

JANET M. BAKER Gaithersburg

Your editorial on stem-cell research deceives readers on the scientific merits of an important public policy debate. In an attempt to characterize the opposing House bills, you tout the promise of umbilical cells by citing a laundry list of “57 diseases” treated through this method and contrast it with embryonic stem-cell research that has “not produced a single therapy.” This inaccurate characterization misinforms the public by implying that umbilical cells are an equivalent, if not better, replacement for the controversial use of embryonic cells. Although widely known to have real promise, umbilical blood cells primarily offer cures for blood diseases — not the vast array of neurological, heart and organ disorders that could be treated with further research on embryonic stem cells. The last paragraph boldly concludes, “In the final analysis, opposition is an ethical, not technological judgment.” Too bad you use a partisan characterization of science as the main crutch for your opposition.

JENNIFER ERNST Washington

Turkey, Cyprus and the Annan plan

The May 22 Commentary column “Cyprus just an island?” by Mehmet Ali Talat presents a one-sided view of Cyprus. He does not mention why 76 percent of Greek Cypriots voted against the Annan Plan on April 24, 2004, and he distorts reality regarding Turkish Cypriot economic isolation. The Greek Cypriots faced a plan that created permanent division, not unification. The Annan plan was undemocratic, unworkable and not financially viable. The plan provided for an 18 percent minority to have veto power over all legislative and executive decisions. The plan allowed the Turkish Cypriots and illegal settlers to keep the Greek Cypriot homes and property that they seized following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus and actually provided that the Greek Cypriots pay themselves for their property. The plan did not call for the removal of all illegal Turkish troops and colonists on Cyprus. The Annan plan incredibly absolved Turkey for its invasion and aggression against Cyprus, its killing on a substantial scale of innocent civilians, rapes of women from 12 to 71, the enormous destruction it did to Cyprus, the large-scale looting and the destruction of churches. (See report of the European Commission on Human Rights, July 10, 1976.) The Turkish Cypriot’s isolation obviously is caused by Turkey and can be eliminated overnight by removing the illegal 40,000 Turkish occupation troops, the infamous Turkish barbed-wire green line, and the 110,000 illegal Turkish settlers. Since the Green Line partially opened, 7.5 million visits have been made with no incidents between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots, which dramatically disproves the allegation that Greek and Turkish Cypriots could not live and work together. In addition, numerous Turkish Cypriots work in the Republic of Cyprus.

GENE BOSSIES

President American Hellenic Institute Washington

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