- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 22, 2007

Put on the blinders

In Tuesday’s Commentary column “Invisible ‘model minority,’ ” Clarence Page says affirmative action, as it stands now, neglects to take into account whether blacks admitted to colleges, especially private ones, are recent immigrants from Africa, the West Indies and Latin America. He cites the high percentage of students of color who have emigrated recently from Africa or the West Indies and attend private institutions in this country. From what I can understand, Mr. Page thinks that affirmative- action programs are not being applied properly because by admitting students partly based on skin color, the programs are not taking into account blacks from low-income situations and/or blacks who “had slavery in their families.” The fact is, however, that the new immigrants to this country who are succeeding in graduating from our institutions of higher learning may very well have faced hardships in their native countries.

In addition, this situation only brings to light what, in my opinion, has always been the problem with affirmative action, that it decides entry partly on skin color rather than merit. Students should be admitted to universities based on merit and merit alone; if aid is given, it should be financial aid to young men and women from lower-income households, but only after those students have shown themselves through academic achievement and extracurricular activities to be worthy of attending the institution.

The answer to discrimination past and present is not to lower the bar based on skin color. It is to figure out how to make students from all ethnic groups competitive, whether by putting more federal money into elementary and middle schools in poor neighborhoods, investing in the recruitment and retention of high-quality teachers in inner-city schools or other means to help disadvantaged youths achieve academically. Admission to college in this country should be a colorblind process.

JENNIFER WOLFF

Bowie, Md.

Playing catch up on health care

As a practicing pediatrician living and working in the District of Columbia, I have to commend Dr. Alex Gerber on his Sunday Commentary column, “The health care crisis.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Our crisis of a health-care system is neither physician- nor patient-centric. If universal health insurance, otherwise known as national health insurance, were implemented, all Americans could have access to comprehensive high-quality health-care services. The services still would be provided by private not-for-profit hospitals, doctors, nurses, etc.

If every other industrialized and civilized country in the world can do it, so can we. We ought to urge our representatives in the House to support H.R. 676 so we can catch up to the rest of the world in health outcomes, save billions of dollars and once again allow American corporations a chance to compete fairly in the world market.

DR. ROBERT ZARR

Washington

Where are the conservatives?

Until recently, good conservatives and, generally, good Americans, understood the simple truth that imposition on some of our civil rights during wartime was to be expected and was the price of maintaining our liberty when it was under attack. During World War II, for example, we had the military draft to impress citizens onto the battlefield at risk to life and limb. The imposition of rationing and the designation of private goods for public purpose both were understandable and supported.

In addition, with slogans like “Loose lips sink ships,” it commonly was understood that in wartime, secrets were an essential part of winning a war and were taken very seriously. Now, all of this common sense is being turned on its head by the newly founded American Freedom Agenda by some so-called conservatives who seem to have signed on to the left’s long-espoused agenda (“Unusual coalition,” Inside Politics, Monday).

The left has always argued that all of these intrusions on civil liberties are the first steps toward a dictatorship. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), for example, has a rich history steeped in the communist left, starting with its founder, Roger Baldwin. When the ACLU defends our civil liberties at any cost, it is really undermining our freedom. It wants these presumed costs to undermine our leadership and to increase financial burdens enough to bankrupt us.

You only have to look at the daily headlines to see the left at work, whether about Walter Reed Army Medical Center, armor for the vehicles and personnel, troop rotation, death benefits for soldiers, habeas corpus, torture, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo or wiretapping. These all represent the left’s assault on the leadership while increasing the cost of winning the war.

Now, we seem to have some leading conservatives signing on to this same civil-liberties-at-any-cost agenda of the left. They have shed the somewhat disreputable ACLU moniker in favor of American Freedom Agenda. I am distressed about our loss of freedoms from the ever-growing federal government, but these minor wartime intrusions are not on my list, and neither were they on the list of one of the signers, Richard Viguerie, when he wrote his book “Conservatives Betrayed.” Bruce Fein has been decrying these civil liberties intrusions for a long time and waving the Constitution to demonstrate his altruism, just as the ACLU invariably does.

Where is Mr. Fein when it comes to all the other programs that are not in the Constitution, such as the Ponzi scheme euphemistically called Social Security or any of the other programs not listed in the enumerated powers? For that matter, where are all the other conservatives?

LARRY LOTTER

Reston

A Princeton review

The article “A&P heirs assail Princeton” (Nation, Wednesday),about the lawsuit filed against Princeton University by William Robertson and some other members of the Robertson family, incorrectly refers to the Robertson Foundation as “the family’s foundation.” When Princeton and Bill Robertson’s parents created this organization in 1961, it was with the clear understanding that it would not be a family foundation but instead would be what the tax code today classifies as a “supporting organization” for the sole purpose of supporting a graduate program in public and international affairs at Princeton University.

In 1970, Bill Robertson’s father wrote to the IRS to confirm this status, noting that the funds had been donated “exclusively for the benefit of Princeton” and that the governance structure would be “controlled by Princeton.” The Robertsons selected this structure to achieve the tax advantages associated with such a gift and with the full understanding that the boards of such organizations must be controlled by the entity they support, in this case Princeton.

As you correctly pointed out, under Princeton’s stewardship, the assets of the foundation have increased from $35 million to more than $800 million. Now, 46 years later, the descendants of the donor are attempting to seize control of these funds despite the fact that their parents chose to entrust the funds not to them, but to Princeton. They also are trying to overturn their parents’ decision to create this kind of organization and, in fact, to convert it into a family foundation.

Interestingly, the family already has a separate foundation, and these family members are using the income and assets of that foundation to pay for their lawsuit and an associated public-relations campaign.

ROBERT K. DURKEE

Vice president and secretary

Princeton University

Princeton, N.J.

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