Kerry’s Bush hatred
Drawing from a seemingly endless reservoir of blustering swagger, Sen. John Kerry bad-mouthed his country once again, calling it an “international pariah,” (“From gaffe to gripe,” Commentary, Saturday). Our country is isolated like never before, said Mr. Kerry, from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He blamed our unpopularity on the failed policies of the Bush administration. No doubt, the muscular foreign policy of President Bush has offended any number of European leaders who long ago gave up trying to defend Western culture.
Mr. Kerry went on to demonstrate his multicultural acumen by exclaiming that Americans have the unfortunate habit of seeing the world exclusively through an American lens. If only the good senator from Massachusetts knew what he was talking about.
When September 11 occurred, Mr. Bush had been in office almost eight months — hardly enough time to formulate let alone implement a foreign policy for others to hate. Much of the hatred for America predates the Bush White House and in those countries where Islam prevails, it stretches back through Democratic and Republican administrations alike. Islamic cultures are deeply traditional in their values. It’s not freedom they fear so much as all the flotsam that comes with it.
Mr. Kerry is in the embrace of all those who have debauched our freedom, making it unpalatable to others. Before attributing our problems to the current administration, Mr. Kerry, perhaps a little introspection is in order.
THOMAS M. BEATTIE
Perverting King’s legacy
It is certainly good news to see that students at Clemson University are getting a wake-up call on racial stereotyping after some knuckleheads threw a gangsta-theme party over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend. (“A party trend gone too far,” Culture, et cetera, Friday).
It appears that both black and white students there are now working together to heal this breach of civility, which is apparently due less to deliberate racism than to garden-variety buffoonery by college students.
What is inexcusable, however, is that this incident has not led to any wider attack on the culture of gangsta hip-hop that was the object of the students’ ill-conceived parody.
Where are the voices of the NAACP and other black civic organizations that should be denouncing not just isolated incidents like this, but the underlying rot that inspires them?
Every day and night, degrading and outrageously stereotyped images of black life are spun by black entertainers on radio stations, Black Entertainment Television, MTV and elsewhere. In their savage depictions of contemporary black life, these widely broadcast recordings, videos, pictures and live performances eclipse even the worst of the racist stereotypes spread by white hate groups of the pre-civil rights era.
Dr. King, I think, would probably understand that college students can make stupid mistakes. I can only wonder what he would think if he had lived long enough to see the cruel mockery of his ideals and values by gangsta hip-hop recording artists whose barbaric influence on both black and white young people is the tragedy and disgrace of our era.
The Boston cartoon debacle
The terror scare in Boston, which we now know resulted from a marketing scheme by Ted Turner’s Cartoon Network, cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra law-enforcement and disaster-prevention expenses, plus who knows how much in private-sector costs for lost business and individual inconvenience (“Electronic devices to promote TV show fuel scare in Boston,” Nation, Thursday). Some “marketing.”
The companies involved (Turner Broadcasting System Inc. and the Cartoon Network) should be fined an amount equal to 10 times the total cost to the city, state and federal governments plus any quantifiable private expenses. The police, fire, disaster prevention and other agencies involved could then be made whole, and the balance set aside to deal with future terror threats.
As for the individuals who approved this corporate malfeasance, they should serve some hard time in prison — no probation, no fines, just serious time. Only that example will prevent others from doing something equally stupid and costing another city (or even Boston again) another day of unnecessary chaos.
Bush, Democrats and Iraq
Tony Blankley should be commended for his candor (“No third way in Iraq,” Op-Ed, Wednesday). Surge advocates like Mr. Blankley are not supporting a temporary, one-time surge. They are really supporting an indefinite commitment to Iraq.
I wanted to disassociate myself from Democrats like Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton who now claim they wish they had never supported the war against Iraq. Based on the intelligence available to him, President Bush was fully justified in going to war against Iraq, and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld provided exactly the number of troops necessary to win that war. After all, isn’t Saddam Hussein dead?
The big mistake the administration made came afterward in acting on Vice President Dick Cheney’s assumption that the Iraqis would greet us as “liberators.” In fact, Mr. Cheney’s prediction rivals Ambassador Andrew Young’s prediction during the Carter administration that Ayatollah Khomeini would be some sort of saint. Obviously, both of those predictions were dead wrong.
It took President Reagan’s election in 1980 to remove the Carterites from power and free our hostages in Iran. Unfortunately, it will probably require the election of a Democratic president in 2008 to get us out of the mess in Iraq. One can only hope that chastened by September 11, that Democratic president will conduct a more realistic foreign policy than recent Democratic presidents have.
The income gap
As President Bush takes the proverbial first step in recognizing a problem by acknowledging our nation’s wide and growing income gap, American workers struggle to provide for their families (“Bush, Dems have different economic views,” Web site, Thursday) .
While CEO compensation has skyrocketed, rank-and-file wages have stagnated. Most American workers make a tiny fraction of a typical CEO’s salary. According to the Economic Policy Institute, CEOs get paid a whopping 262 times more than the average worker. In 1978, they earned just 35 times more.
By raising the minimum wage, legislators locally and federally are moving in the right direction. But much more is needed from government, business and labor unions. In November, with support from the Service Employees International Union and janitors across the country, more than 5,300 janitors in Houston won higher wages, more hours and health insurance in a contract victory that stands as a major breakthrough in the South and for low-wage workers around the country.
An economy in which most people work longer and harder for stagnating wages and shrinking benefits is heading in the wrong direction. Our government and business leaders have a responsibility to ensure that workers receive a livable wage to support their families.
Service Employees International Union