Letters To The Editor


August 11, 2008

Peace groups never shilled for Soviets

In "Forgetting evils of communism" (Commentary, Aug. 6), Jonah Goldberg makes a thoroughly unwarranted attack upon the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE) and the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign (the Freeze), suggesting they were "intellectual heirs to the 'useful idiots' Lenin relied on," organizations whose activities "were aimed most passionately against America's policies, not the Soviet Union's."

Actually, SANE emerged in 1957 as an organization dedicated to securing a nuclear test ban treaty and bringing the nuclear arms race under control.

It was never pro-Soviet. In fact, it played a central role in laying the groundwork for the Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963. President John F. Kennedy was so grateful for the work of Norman Cousins, SANE's co-chairman, in securing the treaty that he presented Mr. Cousins with one of the original signed copies of the document.

Other prominent supporters of SANE during these years included Eleanor Roosevelt, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Schweitzer and Walter Reuther - none of whom was, I think, an "intellectual heir" to Lenin's useful idiots or a supporter of the Soviet Union.

Subsequently, SANE went on to urge a negotiated settlement of the Vietnam War, ratification of nuclear arms control treaties negotiated by Democratic and Republican administrations and economic conversion legislation.

Meanwhile, in the late 1970s, Randall Forsberg founded the Freeze campaign, which called for negotiating a U.S.-Soviet agreement to halt the testing, production and deployment of nuclear weapons.

Backed by public support that pollsters reported as running from 70 percent to 85 percent, a Freeze resolution sailed through the House of Representatives in May 1983 by an overwhelming vote, though it stalled in the Senate.

In 1984, the Freeze became a key plank in the Democratic presidential campaign platform.

This political pressure was felt keenly by President Ronald Reagan, who made a 180-degree turnabout from his former opposition to nuclear arms control and disarmament and became a spokesman for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

SANE and the Freeze merged in 1987, and some years later, the new group was renamed Peace Action.

Today, with its headquarters located in Silver Spring, Peace Action is the largest peace and disarmament organization in the United States.

In short, Mr. Goldberg is a very creative writer but a rather poor historian.

Lawrence S. Wittner, Albany, N.Y.

The writer is a professor of history at the State University of New York, Albany and the author of the trilogy "The Struggle Against the Bomb."

Police trampled sanctity of home

The raid by Prince George's County police on the home of Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo is a sad and unacceptable example of police incompetence and disregard for the rights of the public whom officers should serve ("Prince George's raid prompts call for probe," Aug. 8).

It appears that the officers involved decided that in pursuit of alleged criminals, they need not abide by the laws they are supposed to uphold but could make their own rules.

The results of this attitude were a home invasion, two murdered dogs, a wrecked house and a traumatized, innocent family.

The Prince George's police are now likely to be sued for the losses and trauma they caused the Calvo family.

And who will pay to defend these officers and fund any settlement?

My guess is the same people whose rights were of no consequence to those officers in the first place - that's right, the taxpaying public.

V. Evan-Bouchelle, Pylesville

The conduct of the Prince George's County police is beyond appalling and should become the subject of yet another U.S. Justice Department investigation.

The decision-makers responsible for the raid and the police involved with the raid must be removed from their jobs.

They are sworn to protect the public, but it is from their conduct that citizens apparently need protection.

These highly questionable tactics deprived citizens of their constitutional rights, and that is likely to result in money being paid to the victims from public coffers. The fact that no apology has been issued enhances the impression that those in charge of the police think their conduct was permissible.

Therefore, such a raid is likely to occur again.

Jim Astrachan, Baltimore

Raid underscores cost of drug war

This Berwyn Heights raid seems very shocking, but perhaps it shouldn't ("Prince George's raid prompts call for probe," Aug. 8). The "war on drugs" has been doing things like this to people for decades.

Maybe we'll finally pay attention to how dangerous and counterproductive the "war on drugs" is now that a white middle-class family has suffered the sort of pain and indignity poor and nonwhite people have repeatedly suffered in this war for decades.

But putting the racial aspects of the drug war aside for a moment, I would ask everyone to read about this incident and think about whether the drug war is worth all this.

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