- The Washington Times - Monday, October 24, 2005

Confronting conflicting beliefs

Suzanne Fields should be counting her blessings that colleges across the nation are promoting, as she calls it, “undisciplined social experimentation” (“The evil virus upon us,” Op-Ed, Thursday). If an “authentic liberal education promotes both character and understanding,” conservative parents should be flocking to send their children to such schools as New York University and Vassar, Williams and Smith colleges. There is no better condition for testing “moral, religious, social, and political” beliefs than by confronting them with conflicting ones. Rather than inhibiting debate, contradictory views in the classroom promote it and advance everyone’s education.

My own education would have been deficient without them.

SARAH WINAWER-WETZEL

Princeton, N.J.

Misusing the peoples’ asset

Yes, Iraq desperately needs to become an ownership society, and the Iraqi people should put some form of oil trust referendum on their next national ballot, as advocated by Austin Bay (“Spreading the wealth,” Commentary, Friday). And, yes, the Coalition Provisional Authority missed a key opportunity to make oil cash payments directly to Iraqi voters starting in May 2003 when the United Nations mandated the use of oil revenues by the CPA “for the benefit of the Iraqi people.”

There is still one other opportunity left to us to lessen the oil peril: We must establish a new paradigm for ownership rights for Middle Eastern oil. President Bush and the State Department can and must use our bully pulpit to convince the people of the Middle East that oil revenues belong to the people, not to “the country” and, above all, not to the government.

Government is only a trustee for the people, and the people must be able to hold their government accountable under its trusteeship. Control of Iraq’s oil cash flow is what made Saddam Hussein so powerful, dangerous and unaccountable to anyone for his misdeeds.

We need a new arena where people still may listen to us. What about Iran, where the mullahs are misusing oil revenues to finance turmoil in Palestine and dangerous advances in their nuclear technology?

The people of Iran don’t care that we don’t like the mullahs using their oil money to develop nuclear weapons — they even may be cheering for that — so let’s move from complaining that they are threatening the world and tell the people of Iran that Iran’s oil money belongs to the Iranian people and should be used to help them, their children and their elders live better lives.

Mr. Bush could tell the world and the people of Iran: “That oil money the mullahs are pouring down a nuclear rathole in Iran really belongs to the people of Iran. They’re stealing that money from the people. It’s the people’s heritage. Think what that oil money could do for the people of Iran if they would use it for the people — better schools for their children so they can get better jobs, better health care and hospitals for them and their elders, clean water and clean new streets, new parks and museums to celebrate Iran’s great history and all the other things that will create good jobs and make a better life for them and their children.”

Mr. Bush and the State Department should preach this message over and over if we ever hope to divert to peaceful purposes the oil money now pouring into the Middle East to finance terrorism.

GORDON O.F. JOHNSON

Adjunct scholar

Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty

Alexandria

In the midst of terror

Three Israelis were murdered last week by Palestinian terrorists on a road just miles from my home (“Gunmen kill three in drive-by attacks,” World, Oct. 17). The terrorists who carried out the attack escaped to Palestinian-controlled territory beyond the reach of Israel’s defense forces. Making matters worse, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas had the hubris to lie to the world and say that his security forces had captured the terrorists affiliated with his Fatah party while offering no proof and demonstrating no intent to prosecute or extradite the terrorists for their crimes.

Following the murder of these young people, Israel closed the road on which they were killed to Palestinian private vehicles. It is important to note that the road in question was built by Israel to provide security for its citizens and bypass Palestinian communities. For as long as I have lived here, the road (Route 60) has been open to Palestinian commercial and private vehicles. The closing of the road to private vehicles is a measured and appropriate response to this terror act.

The “right” of Palestinians to have the convenience of using this road surely does not supersede Israel’s right and responsibility to provide safety and security for its citizens.

Four years ago, I lived almost the same distance from the terrorist attacks in Lower Manhattan that I do now from the site of the attack last week in Israel. After bridges and tunnels were opened in New York, security was unprecedented, and it became clear that driving in New York was not a right, but a privilege. It would be unthinkable for anyone suspected of evil intentions to be able to drive anywhere at any time without security checks. The Palestinians should be held to no less of a standard.

Only when Palestinians end the terror, end the lies and act to live in peace can they expect the privilege of driving on Israeli roads. Until then, as much as I regret the inconvenience Palestinians may feel, I prefer their inconvenience to rocks and Molotov cocktails being thrown at my car, or being shot at when I take my children to a movie.

JONATHAN FELDSTEIN

Efrat, Israel

Valid voting requirements

Jack Kemp urged in his Thursday Commentary column, “Voting Rights Act renewal due,” that all three provisions of the Voting Rights Act be renewed, including Section 203, which requires some jurisdictions to provide assistance in other languages to voters not literate or fluent in English.

I disagree with Mr. Kemp that this provision should be renewed. To vote in this country, you must be a citizen, and you can only be a citizen by being born here or through naturalization. It defies belief that a person who is born here and lives 18 years of his or her life in this country can end up not speaking or reading English.

To be naturalized, the law requires proof of a working knowledge of the English language. Under these circumstances, there is no need to provide any assistance in any language other than English to any voter. Section 203 should not be renewed and never should have been put in the Voting Rights Act.

DAVID HUSAR

Arlington

A waste of taxpayers’ money

The decision by the Democrats on the Special Joint Committee on State Employee Rights and Protections in Annapolis, which is reviewing Maryland state employee rights in relation to firings, is nothing but a big waste of taxpayers’ money (“Democratic lawyer to advise inquiry panel” Metropolitan, Wednesday).

The special counsel hired will be paid $250 per hour despite the objections by Republicans, who are outnumbered by Democrats 8-4 on this committee. It should be noted that a very competent Department of Legislative Services is available that would not cost a thing. I firmly believe the Democrats should be required to disclose the full cost of this charade to the taxpayers and then have to justify spending our money for a witch hunt. The voters should judge for themselves the necessity of this whole ridiculous exercise. This is just another example how Democrats in Annapolis waste taxpayers’ money, and as a Maryland taxpayer, I resent such tactics by the Democrats.

AL EISNER

Wheaton

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