- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 1, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Boycotts and the Olympics

Nat Hentoff refers to a “possible boycott of the [Beijing Olympics] games by athletes” because of China’s support for the genocidal government of Sudan (“Beijing’s blood-drenched Olympics,” Op-Ed, yesterday). Unfortunately, Olympic athletes do not have a very impressive record when it comes to standing up to tyrants. Only a handful of American athletes were willing to defy the U.S. Olympic Committee and risk their careers by refusing to take part in the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany.

A number of American Jewish athletes refused to go to Berlin, including championship jumper Syd Koff, who had qualified for the 1936 team; sprinter Herman Neugass of Tulane University; and Harvard track and field stars Norman Cahners and Milton Green.

Only one non-Jewish American athlete joined the boycott of the Nazi Olympics: speed skater Jack Shea, who had won a gold medal in the 1932 games and was expected to qualify for the 1936 team. In 1934, he announced he would not take part in the Berlin games, as a protest against the persecution of Germany’s Jews.

Sadly, Shea’s courage is barely acknowledged even in the Olympic community. Although he was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame two years ago, the reason for Shea’s refusal to take part in the Nazi Olympics is still not adequately recognized on the U.S. Olympic Committee’s own Web site.

As the 2008 China Olympics approach, American athletes face a moral dilemma similar to that which Shea and his colleagues faced in the 1930s. As Mr. Hentoff notes in his column, China provides “utterly crucial support” to the government of Sudan, which sponsors the Arab militias that have been carrying out genocide in the Darfur region. Beijing is the largest foreign purchaser of Sudanese oil, the largest foreign investor in Sudan and Sudan’s largest trading partner. China also provides arms to Sudan (in violation of the U.N.’s arms embargo) and, according to the Save Darfur Coalition, Chinese weapons and trucks have been used by the genocidal militias.

The real heroes of the 1936 Olympics were Jack Shea and the other boycotters, whose moral accomplishment was greater than anything that can ever be achieved on a track or a skating rink. Will any of today’s athletes have the courage to stand up against the Darfur genocide, by boycotting the regime that is making genocide possible?

RAFAEL MEDOFF

Director

David S. Wyman Institute for

Holocaust Studies

Washington

Monday morning quarterback

Why is Redskins coach Joe Gibbs given credit for where the Redskins stand today (“Redskins’ playoff bid ‘amazing,’” Page 1, Saturday).

The entire season showed a team with a less-than-competent quarterback and a coach who personally lost two games by making illegal last-minute calls calls he didn’t know were illegal.

Finally fate stepped in when quarterback Jason Campbell got injured and Todd Collins stepped in to do what quarterbacks are hired to do complete passes and score touchdowns.

The example of Tom Brady of the New England Patriots provides solid documentation of the importance of a smart, capable quarterback to lead a team to victory.

So let’s quit the sentimental claptrap about the team’s fighting spirit over the death of safety Sean Taylor, tragic and sad as it was. The Redskins lost the first game that followed his murder because they still didn’t have a capable quarterback.

Why is it so hard to give Todd Collins his due?

JOAN SALEMI

West Springfield

Maryland’s yellow perch

I recently read my friend Gene Mueller’s column regarding regulation of yellow perch fishing in Maryland with interest and a bit of surprise (“Perch meeting waste of time for anglers,” Sports, Wednesday).

Over the past five months, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has been developing a proposal with input from many stakeholders, including the Coastal Conservation Association, to enable more yellow perch to reach critical spawning areas, restrict nets in key spawning tributaries, and more equitably allocate harvest between recreational and commercial anglers.

These efforts represent another step in our multiyear endeavor to develop a new, more sustainable yellow perch management plan. Public components of this process included working with the Yellow Perch Workgroup over several months, public meetings, a public comment hearing on Dec. 19, a written comment period and independent review by the Sport Fish Advisory and the Tidal Fisheries Advisory commissions.

Public comment is an important and valued component of every regulation proposal. We made every effort to ensure adequate opportunity for comment before and after submitting a formal draft to the Maryland General Assembly and Maryland Register.

The public hearing Mr. Mueller wrote of, but did not attend, was only one of several opportunities for the public to comment on the proposed regulations.

DNR staff responded to questions from citizens in attendance for more than an hour prior to hearing testimony and listened to everyone who signed in or verbally requested to testify during the Dec. 19 public hearing.

Nonetheless, it concerns me that anyone feels they were not given ample opportunity over the past several months to submit their comments. The normal public comment period, open for more than one month, on this proposal closed Wednesday. I am extending the comment period through Jan. 8 to ensure that any interested citizens may comment on the proposal.

Comments may be mailed to 580 Taylor Ave., B-2, Annapolis, MD 21401, e-mailed to swidmandnr.state.md.us or faxed to 410-260-8310.

DNR greatly appreciates the public participation and support exhibited by all of those who have taken time to attend meetings and write comments regarding this and other important fishery management challenges.

JOHN R. GRIFFIN

Secretary

Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Annapolis

Illegal drugs

Louis Candell deserves applause for his clear-eyed opposition to the war on drugs (“Ugly realities of drug war,” Letters, Saturday). I offer, though, a slight correction to his argument.

Selling illegal drugs likely is not an especially profitable enterprise. While prohibition raises drug prices, sellers’ risks of imprisonment and death and their need to bribe officials reduce the expected monetary reward for drug dealing .

This “war’s” violence nevertheless is caused by prohibition. First, prohibition screens out law-abiding citizens from this industry and screens in the reckless and those whose respect for the law is unusually low.

Second, imposing harsh penalties for merely selling drugs reduces the severity of the additional legal sanctions that drug dealers suffer if they resort to violence. In other words, if the penalty for drug selling is10 years imprisonment and that for armed robbery is 15 years, the drug seller who resorts to armed robbery risks only an additional five years in prison. If selling drugs were legal, the prospect of a 15-year jail sentence would be more of a deterrent against more severe crimes. Does that clarify? I spoke with the writer to make sure that this is what he means.”cs

DONALD J. BOUDREAUX

Chairman

Department of Economics

George Mason University

Fairfax

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