American Values at Stake in Burma

I read with great frustration the Nov. 12 article "Tightening the Screws in Burma." How can our government maintain a diplomatic mission with a country whose authority, although absolute within its boundaries, is illegitimate? Aung San Suu Kyi's National League of Democracy was overwhelmingly voted in in 1990 as a testament to the Burmese thirst for democracy. Yet the military junta annuls election results and enacts Draconian measures to punish the peaceful followers of Ms. Suu Kyi. And now a reign of terror in which junta-supported goons ambush Ms. Suu Kyi's motorcade. What's next?

Burma's economy is in a downward spiral thanks to the military junta's interpretation of economic discipline. The State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) is acting irrationally in an attempt to save its legitimacy. Will the world do nothing when the military junta attempts to crush the democratic movement as in 1988?

President Clinton, how about taking a proactive approach to improving your administration's foreign policy - denounce SLORC and intervene in Burma for democracy's sake and the preservation of the Burmese citizen's dignity.

Joseph Nicholls

Portland, Ore.

Bring Turkey into line

The Nov. 19 opinion-page article, "Turkey, NATO's Eastern Hinge, Is Far From Breaking Loose," fails to present the total picture.

Turkey has recently concluded a $23 billion gas deal with Iran and signed trade agreements with Cuba and Libya, in clear violation of United States policy. Although Turkey is a recipient of a large amount of aid, it openly defies US policy when it deems it to its advantage to do so.

The continued occupation of Cyprus and the violation of Kurdish rights has led the European Parliament to freeze aid. America should consider doing likewise.

Athanasia Gregoriades

New York

Leading the way to peace

Regarding the Nov. 20 opinion-page article, "What Washington Needs Now," by Father Theodore Hesburgh: Joseph Cardinal Bernadin and Father Hesburgh have represented the very best in Roman Catholic thought and leadership over these past decades. Now that Cardinal Bernadin is gone, it is up to Father Hesburgh and others in the great tradition of reconciliation and love - with justice - to keep the torch aflame. Father Hesburgh's plea for "a monument to peace" is just such a forward thrust. In a beautiful city that creaks under the weight of countless war memorials, and at a time when a psychology of violence threatens the soul of our nation, a memorial to peace on earth would be "our gift to the future."

James Armstrong

Orlando, Fla.

Florida Council of Churches

Crime statistics distorted?

The Nov. 6 news brief on the FBI's hate crime statistics for 1995 misses a crucial element of that story - the faulty methodology employed by the government in compiling those statistics.

Congress enacted the "Hate Crime Statistics Act" on April 23, 1990 to establish guidelines and collect data "about crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity." While the FBI does classify the victims of hate crimes by race, ethnicity/national origin (i.e. Hispanic, etc.), religion, or sexual orientation, it identifies the perpetrators only by race - i.e. white, black, American Indian/Alaskan Native, or Asian/Pacific Islander. Hispanics, therefore, are recognized only as victims, never as perpetrators. Instead, most Hispanics are officially classified as "white" - the US Department of Health and Human Resources, when reporting on illegitimacy rates in the US for 1994, classified 91 percent of all Hispanic mothers as "white." So if a Hispanic attacks a black, a Jew, an Asian, or even another Hispanic, it is most likely recorded as a "white" hate crime. Such methodology not only distorts the statistics but demonstrates "manifest evidence of prejudice" against whites of European origin.

Joseph E. Fallon

Rye, N.Y.

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