- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 16, 2006

‘The triumph of arrogance over democracy’

Anyone wondering why Massachusetts was the first and, until the New Jersey court ruling last month, only state to approve same-sex marriage will find the answer in the editorial “Marriage fiat in Massachusetts” (Saturday). Bay State legislators adjourned their session this month rather than vote on the initiative petition signed by 170,000 citizens to place a proposal on the 2008 ballot defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Legislators had a clear, constitutional duty to vote on the petition.

As the editorial notes, this same tactic to prevent voters from deciding the issue had been used before. In 2002 a similar petition was placed before the joint session of the Massachusetts Legislature that approves all ballot questions. Then-Senate President Thomas Birmingham placed the petition at the end of the agenda and deftly adjourned the session before it could be voted on. A year later in a 4 to 3 decision, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the ban on same-sex marriage violated the Massachusetts Constitution and gave the Legislature 180 days to change the law.

When the Legislature asked if civil unions would fulfill the requirement, by the same 4 to 3 majority, with judges shouting at each other, they were told “no.” The judges set the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education as the date for the new, same-sex marriages to be recognized. Those four judges and the leadership in the state Legislature deprived the people of Massachusetts of the opportunity to decide for themselves this fundamental question. Whatever one’s view of same-sex marriage, the Legislature’s violation of the rule of law is even more troubling. This was, as Gov. Mitt Romney pointed out, nothing less than “the triumph of arrogance over democracy.”

JOYCE LEE MALCOLM

Professor of Legal History

George Mason University

School of Law

Arlington

For the record

Ray Wikstrom says, “Enemy combatants, in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, are not entitled to our federal courts.” (“Media misinformation,” Letters, Monday). That may be true, however, if they are enemy combatants, they are entitled to treatment as prisoners of war, in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.

Remember, we are not engaged in a war against Iraq or any other country. We are engaged in a “war against terror” — those are the words of the administration. If we are engaged in a “war against terror,” then the “enemy combatants” are the “terrorists” and vice versa.

Logic is neither conservative nor liberal; the administration denies logic and therefore denies its own words.

If we are in a “war against terror” and the terrorists are prisoners of war, then they must be placed in a prisoner of war facility and treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions until the war is over. That may be several generations, it may be never. How are we to know?

No matter how many times conservatives read the Constitution, they will not find the word “citizen” in the Bill of Rights. Considering that the Framers used the word in the very first article, you would think that they would use it in the Bill of Rights if they intended those rights to be available only to citizens.

Did they think that only citizens had the freedom of speech, religion, protection against warrantless searches, etc.? If you are a strict constructionist, you must believe they did not, because if it isn’t there, it isn’t there.

Mr. Wikstrom says, “wiretapping American phone calls … without a warrant is not illegal and has not been adjudicated yet.” That an act has not been adjudicated does not mean that it is not illegal, it means legality has not been determined.

If this country cannot find ways to fight this “war on terror” within the framework of the Constitution, we have lost our honor. We are supposed to be a nation that follows established law, even when it hurts. This is what we tell the world. Are we lying?

DARREL SALISBURY

Lorton

Turkish debate

Tulin Daloglu asserts in “Debate needed” (Op-Ed, Oct. 17)that Edward J. Erickson “categorically dismissed the claims of genocide perpetrated against Armenians by the Ottomans during World War I” in an article in the Middle East Quarterly. If one reads Mr. Erickson’s article, “Armenian Massacres: New Records Undercut Old Blame,” it becomes clear he does no such thing.

Though Mr. Erickson acknowledges that many Armenians died during the war, he argues that “a significant historical dispute” still exists whether their deaths were part of the “fog of war” or actual killings ordered by the Ottoman government. However, his argument and the so-called debate Miss Daloglu cites in her Op-Ed column boil down to Mr. Erickson’s claim that recently uncovered documents cast doubt on previously offered documentary proof of the role of certain irregular Ottoman units in the deportation and killing of Armenians. That most assuredly is not a refutation of assertions of genocide.

Both Miss Daloglu and Mr. Erickson ignore other documentary evidence, including the key indictment by the Ottoman commission set up to investigate the death of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians that put blame on the “Young Turks” who ran the sultan’s government. They also ignore myriad eyewitness accounts, not just of Armenian survivors, but also of many foreign observers, including the U.S. ambassador to Turkey, Henry Morgenthau, the father of FDR’s secretary of the Treasury; various Swiss and American missionaries; American consuls throughout Anatolia and as far west as Adrianople; and even a German nurse in the German military mission. Belinda Smith, who reviewed Peter Balakian’s “The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response,” for the New York Times (Oct. 19, 2003, Page 35) noted that “the sheer volume of outsiders’ testimony that Balakian compiles, and the horrifying similarity of the observations of men, women and children beaten, tortured, burned to death in churches or sent out into the desert to starve, is an overwhelmingly convincing retort to genocide deniers.”

Talaat Pasha, the “Young Turk” minister of the interior, declared to Mr. Morgenthau, “We have already disposed of three quarters of the Armenians; there are none at all left in Bitlis, Van and Erzerum” and, “We will have not have the Armenians anywhere in Anatolia. He also boasted (quoted by Mr. Balakian on Pages 275 and 374): “I have accomplished more toward solving the Armenian problem in three months than Abdul Hamid accomplished in thirty years!” (Abdul Hamid was the Ottoman sultan who began periodic massacres of Armenians in the middle 1890s.)

Adolf Hitler reportedly cynically queried his comrades about his treatment of the Jews: “Who now remembers the Armenians?” Contemporary Turkish governments obviously believe too many do.

THOMAS A. JULIAN

Alexandria

The benefits of dissension

In his article “Where is the West?,” (Commentary, Wednesday) Thomas Sowell raises an important question about the “internal degeneration of Western society” because of the European opposition to Saddam Hussein’s death sentence and our government’s use of torture against terrorists (neglecting even to refer to them as suspects). He went on to suggest that the loss of internal cohesion is a threat to our survival. His criticism of the Europeans (and dissenting Americans) is not only misguided, but misleading.

It was dissension and lack of cohesion that founded this great nation, eradicated slavery and promoted freedom, justice and equality. Mr. Sowell may have forgotten, or has neglected to mention that we fought a civil war to eradicate slavery, and still survived. The reality is that the United States — indeed the world — benefits when we aren’t cohesive and we question the actions and policies of our government. The Rule of Law and Accountability shouldguide our means of survival, not “the Roman Empire’s crushing defeat and annihilation of Carthage.”

AIMAN TARSIN

Fairfax


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide