Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

April 19, 2003

Discrimination closes the doors of opportunity

Kevin Cowherd's column "The ladies and the Tiger at golf's biggest day" (April 10) referred to Augusta National Golf Club's "no girls rule."

However, the danger of allowing women to join the club is not that "it leads to baby-changing tables in the locker rooms," as Mr. Cowherd jokes. The danger (to some minds) is that it would open doors for women to fully participate in the same business and social opportunities men have.

The club's ban on women members is a remnant of the sort of legally condoned discrimination that would have also kept Tiger Woods himself out of membership at Augusta National as recently as 1990.

A study done in 1989 by the Commission on Human Relations explored discrimination at private clubs in Maryland.

It found that "private clubs [lawfully] discriminate by bringing like people with like interests together." But, it continued, "clubs [that] deny access to people based upon sex, race, national origin, and/or religious considerations ... deny these groups important business and professional opportunities, and [this] constitutes a form of institutionalized bigotry."

Mr. Cowherd dismisses as frivolous Martha Burk's idea that holding the Masters at Augusta is an insult to the women who are laying down their lives for democratic ideals in Iraq. I disagree.

By holding "golf's most illustrious tournament" at a club that flatly defends its right to discriminate against women, the Masters organization, its advertisers and CBS tacitly endorse the violation of public standards that firmly oppose discrimination.

Henry B. Ford

Baltimore

The writer is executive director of the state Commission on Human Relations.

WHO should open its doors to Taiwan

It was frightening to read that China's Health Ministry has lied about the number of people hospitalized with SARS symptoms in Beijing, and that health statistics in China are often regarded as state secrets, particularly if they are negative ("Doctor faults official figures on SARS," April 10).

And I find it hard to understand why the World Health Organization (WHO) welcomes countries such as China, which hide evidence of a spreading epidemic for months, while excluding a country such as Taiwan, which has demonstrated its commitment to health.

Over the years, China has used its claim of sovereignty over Taiwan to prevent the island from participating in the WHO, even as an observer. Because of pressure from China, Taiwan is not allowed direct access to WHO information or assistance. This needlessly jeopardizes the health of the 23 million people in Taiwan and weakens the international health system as whole.

So far, thanks to its modern health care system, Taiwan has contained SARS and no SARS-related deaths on the island have been reported. But health care is a fundamental right of every human being. And leaving Taiwan outside the WHO violates the human rights of the Taiwanese people.

It is high time for the WHO to place human decency, morality and global health interests over politics.

Stephen Chang

Washington

The writer is director of the information division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office.

Images from the war create more enemies

The article by G. Jefferson Price III concerning the self-censorship of war images by The Sun and other media disturbs me more than all other news about the war in Iraq ("Truth in war's abiding images," April 13).

The world beyond the United States has seen the actual, unaltered images of the war, and thus it sees this war in a very different context than we do. That we may have such different perceptions should give us pause, regardless of our views on the necessity or purpose of this war.

After Sept. 11, America asked, "Why would anyone hate us that much?" No answer was forthcoming, because we knew so little of the Middle East or how its peoples viewed us. In light of that, the censoring of images from the current conflict promotes an unconscionable, willful ignorance that may well lead to having to ask the question again.

Americans were treated to endless, uplifting interviews with everyone who ever knew a POW, live light shows and explosions over Iraq, and consternation that even a single POW might be mistreated. The rest of the world saw hospitals overcrowded with civilian casualties and the effects of 500-pound smart bombs on living flesh.

And American media barely mention the thousands of Iraqi soldiers who have perished. It is only natural to pay most of our attention to our own troops. But do we have no empathy for those dead Iraqis who were simply soldiers, conscripts or patriots who, however they may have felt about Saddam Hussein, were defending their homeland from invaders?

Although unseen by us, each was a son, father and brother to an Iraqi family.

America may have made new enemies of those who actually experienced the horror of the war or who saw its real images.

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