- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Barbarism vs. civilization

It is about winning and losing, but it also is about how we play the great game.

Two Commentary pieces and one Op-Ed column on Monday lay it out:

Deroy Murdock thinks “We’re too nice”; Sarah Gildea and F. Andy Messing (“Varieties of democracy”) believe that to pave the way for exporting democracy, we must “first and foremost [set] … a democratic example worthy of emulation within our own country”; and Nat Hentoff (“A government of laws”) laments that “if the prohibitions on habeas rights become laws — the prisoners can be held for the rest of their lives on the secret evidence and the coerced interrogations.”

This is not a war of civilizations. Islamofascism is not civilized, so it is a war of barbarism on one side vs. a civilization on the other. America and Co. are supposed to be the civilized ones. Let’s keep it that way. This is especially important as this war could last for generations and thus essentially become a way of life. If we suspended habeas corpus for “protracted warfare” (Miss Gildea and Mr. Messing quoting Sun Tzu), “many detainees may never experience justice” (Mr. Hentoff).

We defeated the Soviet Union on our terms and emerged not merely victorious, but dignified. Certainly that dignity can be maintained and serve as a model for the witnesses of democracy in the Middle East and throughout the world, as well as for the barbarians.

The war in Iraq, perhaps the defining moment of a new era, is a just war. We are midwifing democracy and setting the model for that part of the world, which cries out for such a model. This is having blowbacks, yes, but it ultimately may be a net benefit to freedom as a positive “ripple” or “domino” effect infects neighbors who are catching the democracy bug and holding (albeit quasi-democratic) elections in the Middle East. That is a start.

We want to win hearts and minds, not just morally bankrupt occupied territory.

ONA BUNCE

Bethesda

The ‘plague’ of R&D

The coming “day of reckoning” is one in which the public will have to choose between our modern knowledge of human biochemistry and the industries that are seeking to profit from technologies of the past (“Day of reckoning for DDT foes?” Commentary, Monday).

The arguments of economists, who want an end to government regulation upon business, cannot be substituted for current scientific studies demonstrating the effects of pesticide poisons on exposed humans.

The work of many doctors clearly demonstrates how pesticides have damaged our armed services personnel. Imposing a different type of suffering upon malaria victims is not a sensible solution for revisiting the use of DDT.

The body burden of DDT metabolites is a continuing threat domestically and in areas far from points of application. The Inuit in Arctic regions must weigh the benefits of breast feeding against the need to consume indigenous food sources.

DDT is associated with higher rates of miscarriage, preterm birth/low birth weight, precocious puberty in girls, birth defects and immune system collapse in amphibians that share similarities in immunological functioning with mammals. A March 2001 article in Lancet by Berna van Wendel de Joode et al., noted that chronic occupational exposure to DDT “is associated with a permanent decline in neurobehavioral functioning.”

Nets, safer repellents and newer technologies for reducing populations of adult mosquitoes are available that will not lead to the resistance that plagued mosquito control programs before the DDT ban. Rather than remaining hostage to commercial agendas, Western nations need to fight preventable diseases outside of the proprietary interests that are the real “plague” of research today.

BARBARA RUBIN

Norwich, Vt.

Historically black schools

Hampton University does not play on anyone’s guilt or depend on black ancestry to attract students, as the factually inaccurate Associated Press article “Fewer students joining historically black colleges” (Metropolitan, Sunday) opines, although we do freely offer a nurturing environment.

Hampton is selling one of the finest sources of education available anywhere in our great nation — evidenced by its 2006 designation as the 25th-ranked institution among all Southern universities by U.S. News & World Report magazine.

The reason black colleges are losing some talented black students to predominantly white schools is because the latter group is offering greater financial inducements. It is simply a matter of big versus small — not white versus black. Nor is it true that a black student chose a white school in Virginia because all black schools are inferior — as the Associated Press article clearly implies.

It is a fact that historically black schools cannot compete financially with the deep pockets at the University of Virginia. However, deep pockets are not a guarantee of a good education.

TONY BROWN

Dean

Scripps Howard School of

Journalism and Communications

Hampton University

Hampton, VA

‘Call me,’ La-Z-Boy

Etan Thomas took a page right out of the Democratic Party textbook when he claimed to “support the troops but not the war.” News flash: The two are not mutually exclusive (“Next time, try ‘to reach me,’ Letters, yesterday).

Mr. Thomas thinks the war against Islamofascism is “unwise” and bemoans the lives sacrificed in doing what it takes to get the job done.

The trouble with La-Z-Boy foreign policy “experts” is that not one of them has an answer to what they would have done on Sept. 12, 2001.

He opines about the “wrong” way the war is being fought and a so-called “quagmire with no exit strategy,” but offers no brilliant military strategy of his own.

Does he think President Bush is too restrained, too aggressive, or that we should have been more conciliatory toward the terrorists? The Thomases of the world would like to see nice, bloodless, neat little soundbite wars. Well, wouldn’t we all?

In reality, war is a brutal but often necessary endeavor. Mr. Thomas isn’t cognizant of the fact that despots like Saddam Hussein would not have stood idly by had we tried to limit our efforts to the war in Afghanistan, which is conspicuously absent from his diatribe.

Considering that terrorists are supported by extremist nation-states all over the Middle East, Iraq and Afghanistan are two good places to start retaliation. If Mr. Thomas really believes we aren’t safer, what kind of “safety” did we have before the terrorists flew human-filled missiles into buildings? Five terrorist attacks, including the first one on the World Trade Center in 1993, went unanswered during President Clinton’s eight-year disaster, and not a peep out of Mr. Thomas.

Mr. Bush makes decisions based on the recommendations of boots-on-the-ground military commanders, not professional basketball players whose idea of stress is whether to take that 3-pointer or not.

The condescending way in which he refers to us as “pawns in an unnecessary war” is slap in the face to the women and men who serve this country. This may come as a surprise to Mr. Thomas, but we can and do form our own opinions, think for ourselves and support our president and the mission. The next time Mr. Thomas feels compelled to speak for me, have him call me first. Collect.

SGT. 1ST CLASS CHERYL MCELROY

Army

Alexandria

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