U.S. has no reason to feel ashamed of its record on...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 28, 2001

U.S. has no reason to feel ashamed of its record on rights

For six weeks, I served on the U.N. Commission on Human Rights as a public member appointed by President Bush for the 2001 session. Having just returned from that experience, I was appalled to read Phyllis Bennis' column "U.N. sets its sights on U.S. arrogance" (May 13).

Not only does Ms. Bennis paint the U.S. as a violator of "internationally agreed-upon human rights standards," she attempts to blame the loss of the U.S. seat on the human rights commission on the policies of a new president who has hardly had the time to put his stamp on foreign policy.

Where was her condemnation of such human rights violators as Iran, Libya, Cuba, China or the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to name just a few of the unlikely members of a human rights body?

The United States often stands virtually alone in our efforts to cast the world's spotlight on countries that are human rights abusers. Not one member country, for instance, was willing to co-sponsor the U.S. resolution calling on China to end its repressive activities.

Frankly, the vote to deny the United States a seat next year was no surprise to those of us who have experienced the workings of the commission.

Our free society has produced a level of prosperity that is the envy of most of the world. We are willing to take the tough and lonely stands to expose human rights atrocities, making others uncomfortable. We defend Israel from resolutions that we believe are not balanced.

We will not vote for resolutions (or ratify agreements) which violate our principles. And because the U.S. is an economic powerhouse, many countries relish rare opportunities to poke us in the eye.

There is always room for improvement, but, on human rights, few countries surpass the record of the United States.

Ellen Sauerbrey

Baldwin

The writer is a former Republican candidate for governor.

Let the national memorial to World War II go forward

Now that Congress has spoken, I urge the National Capital Planning Commission to allow construction of the World War II Memorial, without delay, on the National Mall in Washington.

After a lengthy site-selection process, this spot was deemed best to highlight the significance of the memorial. It still is.

It is time to honor those who sacrificed so much during World War II. Shouldn't we move ahead quickly so the veterans of that war who are still alive can see the memorial become a reality?

The time for bickering has passed; the time for action is now.

Mark E. Romanoff

Catonsville

Why arrest a bystander just for bearing arms?

I found interesting the article about the man detained in the park where President Bush was jogging, just because he was carrying a gun (with a permit to do so) ("Man with gun found in park during Bush's run," May 18).

The man was accused of no wrongdoing; he was exercising his "right to bear arms," a Republican battle cry. Yet he was detained because the Secret Service perceived he might be a threat to Mr. Bush.

Apparently the lesson from the top Republican in the land is that everyone has a right to carry a concealed weapon, but not in the proximity of a Republican.

Or perhaps the lesson is that everyone should get his or her own Secret Service detail for protection from gun-toting Republicans.

Kris Appel

Baltimore

Norris' efforts to make city safer deserve support

The Sun's editorial "Anti-crime momentum must not dissipate" (May 17) finally put into proper perspective the flap about the recent firing of four high-ranking police officers.

Congratulations for telling it like it is. Now get behind Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris and give him the support he needs to make Baltimore a safer place.

George D. Solter

Towson

Shelling of the West Bank was an appropriate response

An Arab terrorist kills eight shoppers and wounds almost 100 others. The Israeli response was indeed measured and appropriate - carefully targeted attacks on those who plan, organize and support such terrorist activity ("Israel shells home of top Palestinian," May 21).

Yet the world's response was not to suggest that killing civilians in shopping malls was inappropriate or unjust or even inconsistent with societal standards. Instead, the world chose to condemn Israel's "disproportionate" use of F-16 aircraft to attack terrorists.

One might well assume that the "proportionate" response for the Israelis would have been to place a bomb in a shopping mall in Egypt or perhaps Syria. At least then the world would not condemn Israel for escalating the situation.

Eliot Shimoff

Baltimore

City residents have trouble finding reasons to stay

I was dismayed by Mayor Martin O'Malley's defense of his proposal to raise the city's income tax rate 20 percent ("Taxes are investment in Baltimore's future," Opinion * Commentary, May 7).

The city's budget is $2 billion and 2,000 pages long. Don't tell me it doesn't don't have enough money to spend.

The writer of the recent letter "Raising tax will spur exodus from the city" (May 7) is certainly correct.

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