- The Washington Times - Friday, October 6, 2006

The spirit of forgiveness

I grew up among the Amish people in Lebanon County, which is just to the north and west of Lancaster County where this recent tragedy took place. I am not surprised by the spirit of forgiveness the Amish have exhibited toward the perpetrator of this heinous crime (“Amish community buries school victims,” Nation, yesterday).

The Amish are truly people of God, by thought, word and deed. Many people of faith talk about atonement, forgiveness, repentance and similar expressions of spiritual contrition, but the Amish actually live by and actively practice these religious tenets.

The idea that an entire community of people could forgive someone for such a horrible crime goes beyond the average human conscience and comprehension. However, if God were ever going to use anyone to make a point about humility, love and forgiving in the face of adversity and sorrow, it would be these kind, gentle and loving people of faith.

ROB WEINHOLD

Dale City, Va.

Shaping public attitudes

Victor Davis Hanson (“The New Anti-Semitism,” Commentary, Sept. 30) protests the decision by the Council on Foreign Relations “to reward the Iranian president with an invitation to speak to its membership.” Columbia University likewise invited President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (only logistical problems prevented him from going), and Harvard recently hosted a speech by former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami, a supporter of the Ahmadinejad regime.

Perhaps the behavior of these Ivy League institutions is not so surprising when one considers their track record.

In May 1934, Harvard hosted a visit to campus by Nazi Germany’s ambassador to the United States, Hans Luther. The following month, Harvard president James Conant rolled out the red carpet for Hitler’s foreign press chief, Ernst “Putzi” Hanfstangl. A graduate of the class of 1909, Hanfstangl came for his 25th class reunion. Later that year, Harvard hosted Germany’s Boston consul-general, Baron Kurt von Tippelskirch, at a ceremony honoring Harvard graduates who had died while fighting in the German army in World War I. The consul’s wreath included the infamous Nazi swastika.

Meanwhile, Columbia president Nicholas Murray Butler in 1933 invited Nazi ambassador Hans Luther to speak on campus, and also hosted a reception for him. Luther represented “the government of a friendly people,” Mr. Butler insisted. He was “entitled to be received… with the greatest courtesy and respect.” Luther’s speech focused on what he characterized as Hitler’s peaceful intentions.

Three years later, the Columbia administration announced it would send a delegate to Nazi Germany to take part in the 550th anniversary celebration of the University of Heidelberg. (Harvard did likewise.) This, despite the fact that Heidelberg already had been purged of Jewish faculty members, instituted a Nazi curriculum, and hosted a burning of books by Jewish authors.

“Academic relationships have no political implications,” Mr. Butler insisted. Columbia students knew better; they picketed Butler’s mansion. As punishment, protest leader Robert Burke was permanently expelled from Columbia.

Universities are uniquely positioned to shape public attitudes. As the pillars of America’s educational system, they are looked upon as exemplars for our society. But what example did they set in the 1930s, by hosting officials of the Hitler regime and expelling a student for the ‘crime’ of leading an anti-Nazi rally? What message do they send today by welcoming leaders of a regime that sponsors international terrorism and threatens to annihilate five million Israeli Jews?

Robert Burke is the person who should be embraced by Columbia, not Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Even at this late date, an honorary degree for Mr. Burke would constitute a powerful expression of Columbia’s opposition to fascist tyrants and their supporters.

RAFAEL MEDOFF

Director

David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies

Washington

Purposeful

The Op-Ed “Americans finally awaken” (Tuesday) seemed largely an attempt to equate Democratic response to foreign threats to Republican responses. In the time period after our victory in the Cold War described as that “decade-long party,” it’s the Democrats who were in control of the House and Senate. Many Republican leaders, and especially their electorates, were strenuously asking our elected leaders to do something about terrorism, and a host of related national security issues such as securing our borders and transportation networks.

What’s different now that Republicans are in charge is that they are attempting to seriously address these issues with thoughtful, necessary steps to ensure the safety of our citizens, the future of our nation, and that of all free nations on the planet.

But what isn’t addressed in the article is that the Democratic Party, aided by leftists in media and leakers in our intelligence agencies, fights these reasonable efforts and actively subverts the security of our nation at every step of the way. The absence of “clarity,” of “unity of purpose” in an “unnerved” nation “adrift” — if that’s true — is a direct result of Democrat divisiveness, and, dare I say it, political self-interest.

Mr. Kurz does seem more level-headed and nonpartisan than most Democrats these days, and I applaud him for that — it is a rare commodity on the left.

At least Republicans aren’t working against our own personal security. We know very well what is at stake in the war on terror — everything.

DOUG HILLGREN

Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

Historic parallels

Chuck Woolery should take the advice he presumes to give retired Navy Adm. James Lyons to “leave history and foreign policy to those who know it” (“We had it coming,” Letters, Wednesday). It’s astounding that Mr. Woolery acknowledges that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad advocates genocide and “wiping Israel off the map or deporting all Jews from the region,” yet is oblivious to the obvious historic parallels to the delusional efforts by Neville Chamberlain and Edouard Daladier to appease Nazi Germany and fascist Italy.

Mr. Woolery’s assertions notwithstanding, Iran’s theocratic ruling clique is no more “sovereign” than Al Capone or Adolf Hitler. There is no “right” for tyrants to acquire weapons of mass destruction because there is no “right” to enslave, terrorize or slaughter others. The notion of a “right” for tyrants to amass weapons amounts to a wholesale assault on the very concept of rights itself.

History and reason counsel that U.N. disapproval has no hope of curtailing the Iranian regime’s tyrannical aspirations. One need look no further than the United Nation’s worthless resolutions against Saddam Hussein, or the disastrous treaties and agreements Hitler willingly signed. Any failure to take forceful action in the face of clear and present danger will be judged by history to be just as blameworthy as Chamberlain’s craven appeasement of Hitler and Mussolini.

MICHAEL CRAWFORD

Great Falls

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