- The Washington Times - Friday, October 5, 2007

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The First Amendment’s purpose

Suzanne Fields was right to praise the Founding Fathers (“Myopia in a secular age,” Op-Ed, Monday) but missed the genius from which Thomas Jefferson slipped when he thoughtlessly proclaimed a nonconstitutional “wall of separation” between church and state.

The founders did not establish a country free of religion — to do so would make as little sense as founding one free of advancing technology. Scientists have shown themselves just as prone to dogmatism as theologians, but the freedom of inquiry has been crucial to progress beyond error.

The purpose of the First Amendment is to limit the abusive tendency of government and to promote the discovery of truth — freedom of expression and conscience are but means to that end. Those who abuse their free expression to tell lies are no better than those who bear arms to commit crimes, but allowing the possibility of such is the price of freedom.

Islam is correct to disdain those who falsely deny God but wrong to disallow personal conscience. When inquiry and conversion are not permitted, such external compulsion calls into question the heartfelt faith of all Muslims.

Modernity is about the scientific method, whether in the laboratory or the sanctuary — discovering truth and refuting lies through the rough-and-tumble of freedom.

DAVID Y. CHIU

Provo, Utah

Turkey must face its past

I am in full agreement with Tulin Daloglu’s opinion that President Bush’s confidence in his Iraq strategy “is at odds with the perception of reality” on the ground (“The energy matrix,” Op-Ed, Sept. 18). Miss Daloglu also is right in echoing Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns’ view that Turkey is a country of great geopolitical importance and one that has a crucial role to play in stabilizing the region.

Referring to the “Armenian tragedy” and putting genocide in quotes as if doubting the accuracy of the word, however, is clearly at odds with historical reality. Historians and genocide scholars overwhelmingly have affirmed the historicity of the Armenian genocide, and the issue is not a matter of debate.

Raphael Lemkin, the Polish-Jewish legal scholar who coined the word genocide, invented the concept partly on the basis of the extermination of the Armenians in 1915.

Mr. Lemkin, who lost 49 members of his family during the Holocaust, said the following in a 1949 interview with CBS concerning the U.N. Convention on Genocide:

“I became interested in genocide because it happened to the Armenians; and after[ward] the Armenians got a very rough deal at the Versailles Conference because their criminals were guilty of genocide and were not punished.”

The United States and Turkey have a strategic relationship that should be protected and strengthened in these historically volatile times; however, this relationship should not be based on a historical lie: I2t is high time for Turkey to face its dark past.

GAREN MEGERDITCHIAN

Toronto

Alternative energy sources needed

Roger Johnson uses the story of Old Mother Hubbard to assure us that we have plenty of energy (“Energy cupboard isn’t bare,” Letters, Friday). The story of the ancient Greek character Cassandra is more to the point: She was cursed to accurately predict the future but not be believed.

America’s peak production was more than 35 years ago, and the oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) won’t change that. Mr. Johnson claims ANWR has 30 billion barrels of oil, but the U.S. Geological Survey says there is just a 5 percent chance that ANWR holds that much oil. We would be well advised to leave ANWR’s oil as an extension of our Strategic Petroleum Reserve rather than use it for a few more years of sprawl and gas guzzlers.

Mr. Johnson assures us we have vast oil-shale reserves. Note that our biggest oil-shale deposits are in the Colorado River basin. Water is needed to process oil out of shale, and the Colorado already doesn’t reach the sea. Mr. Johnson assures us we can use ocean hydrates for energy, though these are devilishly difficult to harvest, which explains why no one has successfully done so.

No, the energy cupboard isn’t bare, but we can only burn fossil fuels once. We would be smarter to emphasize conservation and have a low peak of production followed by a slow decline rather than a high peak followed by a swift decline. Many experts believe we already are at the peak of global oil production. It is past time to rein in our energy appetite and implement renewable alternatives.

CARL HENN

Rockville

REAL ID is wrong

The REAL ID Act would require states to put data about every American holding a driver’s license or state-issued ID into a nationally available database that also would hold digital copies of their birth certificates, Social Security cards and other basic identity documents (“A REAL problem in Annapolis,” Editorial, Tuesday). It would increase surveillance of law-abiding, native-born citizens but do nothing to prevent terrorist attacks, which rely on surprise, not anonymity.

Maryland House Judiciary Committee Chairman Joseph F. Vallario Jr. and Motor Vehicle Administration Administrator John T. Kuo are talking about a two-tiered system because the REAL ID law specifically allows that, attempting to mitigate what otherwise is a reprehensible unfunded mandate on states. It’s no wonder 17 states have passed resolutions opposing the REAL ID Act or have outright refused to implement it.

JIM HARPER

Director of information policy studies

Cato Institute

Washington

SCHIP helps the children

The American people should put pressure on members of the House of Representatives who voted against expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to change their positions on the issue and vote to override President Bush’s promised veto (“Senate bill doubles children’s health funds; Bush opposed,” Page 1, Sept. 28).

The president contends that expanding the program would be a precursor to “socialized medicine” in America. Medicare and Social Security are two successful socialized programs we already have. It is outrageous that Mr. Bush seeks unlimited funds to fight in Iraq but wants to limit resources that would go to help America’s future leaders: our children.

PAUL L. WHITELEY SR.

Louisville, Ky.

Twisting the facts

As a mother who faced devastating personal loss with the murder of my own son, Matthew, I prayed and asked myself, “How can the world be so hateful to your own child?”

However, after reading your Monday editorial “How they ‘support the troops,’ ” we all can see how people learn to hate, and it starts by twisting the facts.

If 46 states really understand this, as you write, our president should acknowledge it by signing federal hate crimes legislation into law. I hope all parents everywhere join me in making that happen.

JUDY SHEPARD

Executive director

Matthew Shepard Foundation

Casper, Wyo.


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