Al-Ahram Weekly Online   12 - 18 June 2008
Issue No. 901
Reader's corner
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Readers' corner

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Threads that tie

Sir-- I was not aware of what happened in Egypt and only dimly aware of what happened in Paris ('Spirits of 1968' 22-28 May). But I had a friend at the University of Ankara in Turkey who did not get her diploma because of student riots that shut down the university. And in the United States the universities, particularly in the Northeast, were devastated. College fraternities were disbanded. The Student Union Building (Willard Straight Hall) at Cornell University was besieged. The supposed reason was the Vietnam war, but obviously that war had nothing to do with the riots in Egypt, France and Turkey. Those affected seem to have been in the 18-24 age group. There had to be some common cause: sunspots? radio waves? I wonder if we shall ever know.

John Miller

War dividends

Sir-- 'Opium of the masses' (29 May-June 4) targets the US military as being involved in drug trafficking. The United States has a war on drugs and at the same time helps a country grow massive amounts of drugs. The real reality: create a war and make big profits from that war. Americans are too dumb to notice. They keep right on shopping till they drop. We had such potential after the world war and greed took over. The decline is on and, what do Americans do? They voted for these war mongers, then whined.

Edward Cook

Applied religion

Sir-- Saleh Al-Naami is of course correct ('Genocide announced' 10-16 April). Bombs would fall under any other circumstances. It would be trumpeted the world over by the United States and the Western powers. Israeli politicians would be falling over themselves to condemn such utterings.

But no one should imagine that this is a "religious" ruling. The plain fact is that whenever religion or religious authorities become part of the state, then the most repressive, reactionary and chauvinist aspects of that religion become part of the state's ideology and practice. And that is what has happened in Israel where religion is used to legitimise the racism and expansionism of Zionism.

As someone who is Jewish, I would ask that people should no more imagine that this kind of Nazi-style language from Rabbi Rosen is any more typical of Judaism than the Inquisition was typical of Christianity or the bombing of the twin towers is a consequence of Islam.

Tony Greenstein
New York

History consoles

Sir-- Barack Obama has secured the US Democratic nomination, putting an end to a primary season that lasted far too long. The upside of our enormously difficult choice is that we knew we'd be making history either way: the first African American candidate or the first woman. Still, some feminists are bitterly disappointed. At a time like this, we need a sense of history. It helps, for example, to remember Jeanette Rankin, who in 1916 became the first woman elected to the US Congress.

Mary Liepold

Leaders without lessons

Sir-- This old (60 last December) former US Marine-Vietnam vet salutes your reporting of the Afghan situation ('Heart of Darkness' 5-11 June). The last paragraph is quite telling. That Mullen wants more troops and bombs is just natural. Same as it was in Vietnam, so it shall be in Iraq and Afghanistan. Lessons from Vietnam? There are many of them. Were they learned by the military "leadership"? Silly question; of course not. They don't need any lessons. They are the high-ranking Pentagon warriors, the elite of the elite. Lessons are for others sir, not our "leaders". Same as it was in Vietnam, so it shall be in Iraq and Afghanistan. Semper fideles.

Charlie Ehlen

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