- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Abdul Rahman case

Problems such as the one you raise in your Thursday editorial “Free Abdul Rahman” arise because democracy has become an end in itself and not a means of forwarding more basic individual rights. These rights came out of the Enlightenment of the 18th century and are perhaps expressed best by every person’s right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Our government espouses democracy in the Middle East, but this goal by itself bypasses these more important and basic goals. Democracy is a way of making societal decisions, and when it runs counter to the fundamental rights of each person as propounded by our forefathers (and mothers), it is the former that is flawed.

More than 160 years ago, Alexis de Tocqueville warned of the “tyranny of the majority.” Indeed, in this country, we have seen fundamental rights being destroyed through the democratic process. For instance, the right of a person to his or her property has been eroded by a Supreme Court decision to allow the confiscation of one individual’s property for transfer to another to serve an what is said to be an overriding “civic” purpose.

However, if the United States has a problem with the erosion of individual rights at the margin, democracy elsewhere has been used to trample those rights wholesale. For example, Zimbabwean Robert Mugabe was elected democratically (at least originally), but individual rights in his country are nonexistent.

In the Middle East, U.S. policy has been to put the “democratic process” cart ahead of the “individual rights” horse. Of course the Afghan government should free Abdul Rahman, but he should not even be in this situation. Our government’s endorsement of “democracy” without the more important basis of “human freedom” can lead to no end of mischief. We need to espouse the basic human freedoms seen in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, “We hold these truths to be self evident …,” first and foremost.

AL PEDEN

Frederick, Md.

The persecution of Abdul Rahman should cause concern (“White House seeks mercy for Christian convert,” Page 1, Wednesday). Declaring that Mr. Rahman may be insane, as suggested elsewhere, and, thus, worthy of forgiveness is a red herring. It’s merely a face-saving gesture on the part of the Afghan government. Mark my words, even if Mr. Rahman is officially cleared for reasons of falsified mental defect, he surely will pay the ultimate and unjust penalty. The fanatical Islam bosses aren’t going to stand by idly and let Christianity gain a foothold.

The comments by Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns that the Rahman case is in the “competence of the Afghan authorities” would be like saying that Hitler’s Holocaust would have been acceptable had each murdered Jewish victim had his day in court.

I, as one American citizen who has stood firmly behind the Bush administration’s war on terror, refuse to accept the notion that religious persecution is acceptable as long as the persecutors are our allies.

JOHN SALSGIVER

Ford City, Pa.

Preserving civilization

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. wrote a brilliant column about an outstanding ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair (“Steadfast duo … with vision,” Commentary, Friday). In this column, Mr. Blair rightly was compared to Winston Churchill and his opposition to the Neville Chamberlain appeasers of World War II Europe.

The parallel is apt, as the appeasers assume the Islamofascists are willing to stop short of total domination and if we just allow them their dominance in certain areas, they will leave us alone. I am surprised, in a way, that not one of the celebrity antiwar zealots has cried out loud that peace in our time is possible and that after we withdraw from fighting, we all will be able to sleep peacefully. This is a head-in-the-sand belief that ignores the reality of the evil that confronts us.

The comments made by Mr. Blair and President Bush have shown that although politically they hold differing philosophies, they understand that survival requires us to continue the fight to the end. That Mr. Blair is being pressured by both sides of the aisle to resign and has said he will do so means that the security of Europe and America rests on a replacement who also understands the stakes on the table.

The very survival of Western civilization, freedom and self-determination is at stake in this game, and by the remarks they made Tuesday, both our president and the British prime minister showed they fully understand this.

The relationship between these two great men is an eerie paralleltothatbetween Franklin D. Roosevelt and Churchill, whose leadership was as unappreciated as is that of Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair. Other modern world leaders, such as Australian Prime Minister John Howard, support the war effort, but the two leaders who are most prominent and critical are Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair. To lose one half of this team because of shortsighted ideologues in Britain would be worse than a shame.

To borrow from Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher, now is not the time to go wobbly. Mr. Blair, remain in place.

NORMAN HENDRICKSON

Bowie

‘We are not losing in Iraq’

Thank you tremendously for printing Capt. Paul Carron’s letter to the editor (“A soldier challenges the Hollywood left,” Friday). As a soldier who also has served in Iraq, I find it increasingly frustrating to hear liberal Hollywood or biased members of the press influence public opinion with lies. If you want to know what’s going on in Iraq, talk to a soldier. Americans need to listen to their sons, daughters, brothers and sisters who are serving.

Our public is saturated with information; most of it is hypersensitized or flat-out wrong. If it bleeds, it leads, right? We need responsible journalists and broadcasters who keep their natural biases in check.

We are not losing in Iraq, despite the valiant efforts of some back home who continually supplant that message and headline, because … well, it sounds a lot better than, “We are in it for the long haul and slowly but steadily building a nation.”

Thank you for giving the soldiers a voice.

1ST LT. MARJORIE

KNOTT EASTMAN

U.S. Army Reserves

Fort Hood, Texas

Eminent domain in Virginia

I was outraged to read Jeremy Hopkins’ Thursday Op-Ed column, “Special interests vs. Virginia taxpayers,” which cited examples of abusive seizure of private property for nonpublic purposes. I never dreamed that various local governments in the commonwealth of Virginia would be allowed to practice such egregious abuse of eminent domain and place taxpayers at risk for seizure of their private property. Apparently our state has contracted the “New London disease,” thanks to the Virginia General Assembly. Americans are justifiably outraged at French demands that Apple Computer hand over its iPod trade secrets and intellectual property to France or face an embargo (“Vertigo over iTunes,” Editorial, Friday). Yet where is the outrage over the “taking” of taxpayers’ personal property for frivolous or political purposes in our own state and country?

NICHOLAS PISHVANOV

Springfield

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