Letters to the editor
Sir -- I wanted to write and say rest assured there are many people throughout the US that are now joining the rest of us who understand that there will never be a successful Anglo Saxon- inspired government for Iraq and that the attack on Iraq was not needed. And how can President Bush say that there is progress in Iraq when the car bombs are killing more now than ever?
Amazing to think Baghdad will fall much like Saigon 30 years ago.
Much of the money being spent in Iraq for this silly, bloody, sad war is needed at home for our roads and to guard our own borders. Meanwhile, our press is so non-objective that when an American mercenary dies in a helicopter crash he is described as a "civilian".
Santa Barbara, California
Preventing a repeat
Sir -- While world leaders gather in Moscow to mark the 60th anniversary to the end of the fighting of WWII, the lessons of the Holocaust remain close to home and our daily lives.
People should not wrap themselves in their national flags or symbols or glorify military power and leaders. Like JFK said, "our problems are manmade, therefore, they can be solved by man."
People should reject ideologies that they belong to a chosen or master race. Instead, they should embrace the sacredness of the individual and the Declaration of Human Rights as the blueprint for equality for all people around the world.
Public silence in the face of oppression and persecution is unacceptable in any place and at any time. The media must be free from government control and influence and it should uphold its right and public duty to maintain this. All government activities and information must be shared with the public and be available for congressional and public review and scrutiny.
Should the use of military force be necessary to preserve human rights or security, the military must be subject to international approval, and the ethics of engagement. The military cannot and should not be allowed to subjugate a people or another nation -- like the Israelis have done to the Palestinians or the US has done in Iraq. These are unacceptable situations and should be condemned by all.
Now at the dawn of the 21st century with the growing threat of terrorism in the world (mostly inflicted by government policies) and with those same governments demanding more control and military power, we need to safeguard our human rights, international laws and treaties from the abuse of power. Thus reduces the risk of another Holocaust and the ever increasing ethnic cleansing we see today.
Sir -- The day before his election to the papacy Pope Benedict XVI -- then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger -- warned, "we are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognise anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires."
The relativist admits to no supreme criterion that would allow him to distinguish between a good and bad conscience. For him, individual and societal actions are subject only to free will. The result is anarchy -- the law of the jungle -- which is no law at all. Domination and manipulation become the rule.
Already we have seen the nihilistic yet impeccably democratic result of such contemporary legislation involving life itself. I am thinking here of existing enacted and pending articles of legislation, such as that found in Canada and The Netherlands, that legalise various drugs, prostitution, same-sex marriage, abortion, euthanasia and genetic manipulation. This is the inevitable result when there is no lawful consensus regarding the true nature of the human being, and people are flung, in the words of Pope Benedict XVI "from one extreme to another: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism."
If the dignity of the will is to replace the dignity of the human person, it will even be possible to imagine, in the words of Robert Spaemann, "breeding slaves, by genetic manipulation, who are fully in agreement with their condition as slaves."
I applaud our new Pope for his courage to look the truth in the eye and to call things by their proper name, without yielding to convenient compromises or to the temptation of self- deception. May the world follow his progressive vision.
For a ride
Sir -- The Russian President Vladimir Putin should be thanked for promising support for the Palestinians but under no circumstances should the Palestinian Authority buy (or accept even if they come for free) any helicopters from Russia. The money could be better used on public services. Mahmoud Abbas is not being paid by the Palestinian people to enjoy helicopter rides. If the Middle East problem is about some people stealing some other people's land, a couple of Russian helicopters will not solve this problem. Besides, what is the point of having some helicopters if the Palestinians first need to get permission from the Zionists to fly them? Even worse, the Israelis can just walk in and claim those helicopters as their own. And if that doesn't work, Israel can easily fire a couple of missiles and destroy all the helicopters since Israel is above all international laws.
Putin is playing Cold War chess by using Palestinians, Iranians and the Syrians as pawns. His sudden love for Middle East Muslims will be more convincing if his regime stops torturing Chechen Muslims.
Thanks comrade, but no thanks.
Sir -- While I applaud the creation of the Arab American Museum and its goals ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 5-11 May) I must take exception to the remarks of Dean Obeidullah: "Unlike my Arab audiences abroad, I have found that American audiences tend to lump us all into one group. They want us all to pay for the sins of the few. I feel obliged to showcase our diversity."
How odd that one who claims to be working to debunk stereotypes then goes on to stereotype his fellow Americans. I wonder what methods of information gathering Mr Obeidullah used to come to the conclusion that "they" are bent on blaming all Arab Americans for 9/11? Are all Americans responsible then for the sins of the few who are racist? Perhaps Mr Obeidullah needs some diversity education himself?
What could have been a good article about an important addition to our national cultural scene, includes, as too often happens these days, a gratuitous swipe at America or Americans. Grow up.
I shall look forward to visiting the Arab American Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.