- The Washington Times - Monday, February 26, 2007

Hamas not ‘sensible’

The term “sensible Hamas members” is an oxymoron (“Blair willing to work with ‘sensible’ Hamas members,” World, Thursday). The only difference between the rank-and-file of Hamas and the supposed sensible members is that the latter are willing to have a dialogue with Western nations such as the United Kingdom and the United States while retaining their fixed position that Israel must be destroyed.

It is similar to the approach of Adolf Hitler prior to the Munich Pact when as a “sensible” Nazi, he was willing to only annex part of Czechoslovakia while continuing his program to completely destroy that nation.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair should be aware of the history of that debacle. Hamas has an unswerving platform that includes the elimination of a member state. Certainly they have never been nor are they likely to be a potential negotiating partner. Sensible Hamas members are not the solution, they continue to be the problem.

NELSON MARANS

Silver Spring, MD.

The air down here

JetBlue strands some passengers, under difficult circumstances, and the next thing you know, politicians are outraged (“A phony fix for airline woes,” Editorial, yesterday). What a surprise. Here it comes: The “passengers’ bill of rights.”

The metaphor is not lost on this writer. The original Bill of Rights came about because of abuse of power over centuries of bad governments. Are we to assume that a private airline industry, whose services are purchased voluntarily by consumers in a marketplace, in any way compares to the abuses of governmental dictatorships that hold a monopoly on the use of force?

JetBlue was operating in a context of government-regulated airports. On top of this, there was a severe and unusually bad ice storm, something that even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. John McCain, competent as they may claim to be, cannot legislate out of existence.

If passed, this bill of rights will actually create more delays and problems than existed on that day.

Only government has the power to turn an occasional bad situation into the norm. It did it in health care. And it’s about to do it in the airline industry.

Why don’t politicians take a look at their regulations of the airline industry and management of airports?

MICHAEL J. HURD

Bethany Beach, Del.

Hooked on oil

William Rusher’s opinion in Sunday’s Commentary was correctly titled “Warming delirium.” Each of Mr. Rusher’s “three mighty engines” that he says are powering the global-warming controversy are deliriously out of proportion to the real situation.

First, Mr. Rusher said “the media can be depended on to ferret out and wildly overhype any potential negative development any so-called scientist is willing to predict and deplore” and thus easily awaken “the natural human impulse to fear allegedly forthcoming disasters, especially if they are clothed in the raiments of scientific certitude.”

If either of these assertions were true, the threat of infectious diseases would be the primary driving force of all local, state, federal and foreign policy. The bird flu or a release of weaponized smallpox will dwarf any impact of global warming. There is virtually no scientist who covers these inevitable catastrophic threats who believes the media or the public has had adequate exposure, reception or reaction.

And it was so-called hype by both the media and scientific communities that can be credited with the reduction of the very real former environmental problems of “acid rain” and the “ozone hole.” If Mr. Rusher would prefer religious ideology over science in determining public policy he should consider the problems this approach creates in the Middle East.

Mr. Rusher’s second engine “traditional liberal hatred of ‘American corporations’ ” misses the fact that many liberals and conservatives are concerned about the environment and that it is this concern that propels them to seek the source of pollutants. God created the world for our stewardship. Corporations were created by humans and to the degree they put profit over serving human needs and protecting God’s creation, their actions deserve the wrath of harsh critics.

The source of global warming however isn’t primarily cows or corporations. It’s our dependence on oil — a dependence that funds terrorists — which is a different but still vitally important threat as compared with global warming. I’m confident we can all agree that the funding of terrorists must be stopped.

Mr. Rusher’s last engine, the “money” that pays scientists and funds university research, is far less than the money engine related to oil that prevents us from finding affordable alternative fuels that could help keep God’s creation clean and peaceful. If the corporations invested their windfall profits in clean alternative energy sources they would spark economic growth and provide breakthroughs in science that would help us improve other aspects of our health and nations prosperity.

JOAN CLEMENT

Takoma Park

Constitutional meanings

While David P. McGinley (“ ’Separation of church and state’ cult,” Forum, Sunday) made a number of excellent points, I must call attention to one error: He misquoted the First Amendment, claiming it says, “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …” In fact, the First Amendment actually says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …” In the First Amendment, the term establishment is a noun, not a verb.

Joseph Story was a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court and a Dane professor of law at Harvard University. For decades, his “Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States” was considered to be the foremost work of legal scholarship on the Constitution. Concerning the First Amendment, Story wrote: “Probably at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, and of the amendment to it now under consideration [First Amendment], the general if not universal sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the State so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience and the freedom of religious worship. An attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation.

“The real objective of the First Amendment was not to countenance, much less to advance, Mahometanism [sic], or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity; but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects, and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment which should give to a hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government. It thus cut off the means of religious persecution (the vice and pest of former ages), and of the subversion of the rights of conscience in matters of religion, which had been trampled upon almost from the days of the apostles to the present age.”

In other words, Congress was prohibited from supporting any one denomination or sect as the church of the United States. Instead, all denominations and sects were to be allowed to practice their faith freely, without any sort of interference from the government. The Founding Fathers wanted to prevent the creation of a state-controlled church. Today, organizations such as Americans United for Separation of Church and State have helped turn the First Amendment on its head, and do precisely what the Founding Fathers sought to avoid.

THOMAS M. CRAWFORD

Laurel


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