Tuesday, October 5, 2004 Columnist Distorts Truth About Former President To the Editor:

I would hope The Hoya’s editorial staff requires columnists to ground their opinions in respect for persons and respect for fact. In my judgment, Eric Rodawig’s attack on former President Jimmy Carter not only violates the respect human beings owe one another, it seriously distorts the historical record (“Hey Jimmy, Keep Your Hands Off My Country,” The Hoya, Oct. 1, 2004, A3).

Over the past 20 years, former President Jimmy Carter, through the auspices of the Carter Center, has led international election-monitoring teams in 52 elections, in 24 countries, on four continents, for the express purposes of ensuring citizen participation, strengthening democracy and enhancing the rule of law.

The expertise gained in this service (not to mention the credibility President Carter enjoys across the globe) certainly qualifies him to warn against practices undermining the integrity of the election process here in the United States – even in Florida.

An expert in the requirements for effective democratic institutions, President Carter knows why officials entrusted with overseeing the elections process must be rigorously impartial. In fact, some state constitutions define the Secretary of State as a non-partisan office.

While Eric Rodawig may be entitled to believe President Carter did not deserve the Nobel Peace Prize, he is not entitled to distort the reasons why the Norwegian Nobel Institute designated Carter a Peace Laureate. President Carter did not receive this highest human honor because he is “a nice guy.”

He received it for “decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development,” according to a Nobel Press Release of Oct. 11, 2002.

Moreover, the Nobel Committee belatedly acknowledged President Carter deserved -and should have received – the Peace Prize in 1978, along with Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin, for the Camp David Accords which established a peace between Egypt and Israel that stands to this day.

To set the historical record straight, the Nobel Committee stated archival government documents make clear President Carter did much more than host the Camp David Accords – he directly negotiated peace between two determined, and previously hostile, adversary states.

Finally, I take issue with Eric Rodawig’s disturbing claim that when President Carter sees critical elements of the United States Constitution, or the Uniform Code of Military Justice, or United States compliance with international human rights conventions being undermined or vitiated by proposed policies, he is undermining the United States when he speaks out.

On the contrary, by doing so, he carries out a central duty of all citizens and defends the country he loves so well.

Where would we be, as a democracy, if citizens did not defend their fundamental democratic principles and institutions? What kind of former president would ever remain silent when democratic principles come under attack? And why does Rodawig think a former president’s decision to keep silence in such circumstances would be the right course of action?

Professor Marilyn McMorrow, RSCJ

Oct. 4, 2004

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