Arafat's JihadDid I miss the story in...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Arafat's Jihad

Did I miss the story in The Sun covering the creation of an autonomous state of Palestine between Jordan and Israel?

After reading The Sun's editorial of July 26, I can only conclude that this entity is being carved out at this very moment.

Contrary to your editorial leanings, which come through in most stories regarding Israel, a Palestinian state between Jordan and Israel would be a formula for disaster.

While you idealize the fact that Yasser Arafat congratulated King Hussein and Prime Minster Yitzhak Rabin on their achievement, just remember that peace between Jordan and Israel might have come long ago if Arafat had not concentrated on overthrowing both regimes.

Given Arafat's recent surreptitious call for a jihad (holy war) against Israel to "free" Jerusalem, I find it hard to believe that this man has changed anything, save for his tactics, while working to destroy the Jewish state.

Michael Langbaum

Baltimore

Havel's Complaints

Vaclav Havel's 4th of July address (excerpted in Opinion * Commentary, July 18) is the expression of modern European thought. It is also the expression of very old European thought.

The two have never been very far apart. Neither one has been able to stomach reason and its offspring: the Enlightenment, capitalism, democracy.

Havel offers us a grab bag of hoary complaints:

He dredges up the threadbare complaint of feeling "alienated" in the modern world.

He asserts that we are missing "something deeper" -- what it is we are not to know, but to which we are "mysteriously linked."

He lays this at our doorstep: "The end of the era of rationalism has been catastrophic: Armed with the same supermodern weapons [such as machetes in Rwanda?] . . . the members of various tribal cults are at war with one another."

Instead of urging those tribal cults to accept rationalism and lay down their weapons, Havel urges the rest of us to abandon rationalism, after which we would have no choice but to join the tribal cults.

He is similarly deferential to the world's savages when he calls "human rights and freedom" a "slogan mocked by half the world" and urges us to drop "language of a departing era."

His prescription? Let's do away with ("go beyond") rationalism, the Industrial Revolution, capitalism, democracy, but (somehow)

preserve all the blessings bestowed by those ideas, by basing them instead on mysticism and self-sacrifice.

This is the pitiful voice of European intellectuals, bereft of any philosophical base but knee-jerk skepticism and mysticism, concluding in effect that "socialism has failed -- but we can't possibly accept capitalism; that we should keep the alleged goals of socialism -- the betterment of mankind's lot here on earth -- but achieve it with socialism's alter ego, religious self-abnegation. That way we can preserve capitalism's benefits a world governed by capitalism's two arch-enemies, he seems to be saying.

President Havel, they don't mix.

The crux of the message is, perhaps, contained in the following. As rationalism grew, "The existence of a higher authority than man himself simply began to get in the way of human aspirations."

The order of causality is somewhat distorted -- say, rather, as the "higher authority" receded, man's aspirations were unleashed.

But Havel's grasp of the essential issue is rock-solid; restore the higherauthority and put an end to man's aspirations.

John L. Pattillo

Towson

The Apollo Journey

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Michael Olesker missed the point in his column of July 24.

I understand what he's trying to say about the lack of the "humanist" perspective in the lunar landing but, like all of man's great adventures, it's not the arrival at the destination that is meaningful, it's the journey itself.

President Kennedy started the NASA moon journey not with the intention that the moon be a great stepping stone but rather as a way of uplifting the national spirit as well as a political way for the government to show the "enemy" our strength and to sustain our domestic economy.

I have just returned from a reunion of the NASA Crew Systems Division in Houston. This division was a small (about 200 people) group responsible for all of the astronaut equipment, most notably the space suit and life support equipment needed for the moon walk. As can be seen now, we were an elite group, able to do things previously unthinkable. Twenty-five years later, our reminiscences were not tearful over the lack of the continuation of man's lunar exploration but more of revelation at how we accomplished the goal and the way we dit it.

You are making the same mistake that the press in 1969 did, focusing on the astronauts. I do not mean to belittle these brave and courageous men but they were just elite "Jet Jockeys." They were and are symbols. The fact that they actively participated in getting themselves there was almost a matter of expediency; they were participating passengers.

The Apollo program is a tribute to man's ability to do almost anything he sets his mind to do individually or collectively.

Now, 25 years later, the room full of over-50-year-olds was not "unfulfilled"; we did it!

It seems to me it's the job of the political leaders and the press to take the journey, put it in perspective and translate it for our society to build upon. The failure, my friend, is not with NASA.

Jay Laskin

Baltimore

Sexual Attitudes

In response to Edith Boggs' letter (July 15) regarding gays and lesbians marching in Independence Day parades, I also believe in the strict maintenance of privacy surrounding sexuality.

I do not believe in overt displays of sexual behavior or the announcements of sexual orientation to the public at large.

However, Ms. Boggs' letter disturbed me with its attitude toward sexuality. I was unaware that "their [homosexuals'] sex lives become their most significant characteristic." I always thought individuals' accomplishments characterized them, not their sex lives.

Ms. Boggs' letter also disturbed me with the statement that "gay and lesbian sex does not have the redeeming social value of children." Ms. Boggs goes on to write that reproduction proves the "rightness of heterosexual union."

Between birth control and biological infertility, how many heterosexual couples know they're not being socially redeemed?

As I stated at the beginning of my letter, I agree with Ms. Boggs that sexuality is not grounds for marching in a parade. I just wish she had more substantial grounds to support her argument.

James Hays

Baltimore

Willy

The 400 word eulogy by Louise Keelty for her cat, "Willy" just cries out for a response.

She suspects "but cannot prove" a neighbor's unleashed dog caused Willy's demise, even though poor Willy never strayed more than 100 feet from her home as he "made his rounds."

How naive of Ms. Keelty to believe her cat, which was a stray to begin with, always did its business around her home. I would suspect that a sniff of the shrubbery in the entire neighborhood would prove to the contrary.

True, there is a leash law for dogs, but why should cats be allowed to roam at will, damaging the property of others by leaving their stench behind?

Too bad about Willy, but if he had used the litter box he might still have had a few lives left.

E. M. Fritz

Ocean City

Fiske's Probe

Attempting to influence political leaders with gifts, contributions and outright bribes is not new. It has been going on for centuries. That does not make it right.

Sometimes, courageous investigators, members of the press, members of Congress or special prosecutors ask the tough questions, uncover the facts and corrupt officials are exposed and punished.

However, a recent announcement by so-called Independent Counsel Robert Fiske raises serious questions as to whether the public will get a full and complete airing of the serious charges against Bill Clinton while he was governor of Arkansas and even during his presidency.

The questions Fiske should be asking deal with the giant poultry company Tyson Foods, with Whitewater Land Development and with the savings and loan owned by James McDougal.

Did Tyson Foods and James McDougal make gifts of money and interests in land, or did they extend help in any other form to Bill and Hillary Clinton in exchange for favorable treatment for their poultry and savings and loan businesses, respectively, by Clinton while he was governor and even later?

It's already been documented that Tyson Foods received favorable treatment from President Clinton and from various regulatory agencies in Arkansas while Mr. Clinton was governor.

And, there is evidence that the Department of Agriculture has continued that favorable treatment now that Clinton has

changed venues to the White House, according to the New York Times.

From the Watergate scandal during the Nixon administration we should have learned the lesson that no man, not even a president, is above the law. This is the way it must be. The day of the "divine right of kings" has passed.

These issues should be fully investigated, either by Mr. Fiske or by congressional hearings, nonpartisan, with no limitations.

If they are simply hushed up or glossed over, as was "travelgate" and "Treasurygate," it will appear that we have not learned this vital truth after all.

Anthony J. Sacco

Towson

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