Al-Ahram Weekly Online   27 September - 3 October 2012
Issue No. 1116
Reader's corner
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Readers' corner

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Liars can lie

Sir-- I have the impression that many people have concluded that the insults against the Prophet Mohamed that are contained in a video file on the Internet are, in fact, endorsed by the American people or their government because the insults were in English, and because the file originated in the mind of an individual who used a computer located in the United States to put the file into the public's reach. I am well aware that fools arise equally in every corner of the world.

I wish to tell those of you living in other parts of the world, as well as my Muslim fellow citizens, that I certainly reject and repudiate any statements of disrespect towards your faith -- regardless of who makes them, or when, or where. Because I have dealt with my American countrymen all my life, I am confident that the vast majority of us feel the same.

With regard to my government's reaction to this outrage, I hope you will understand that my fellow citizens and I have always denied permission for the president or Congress to remove anything from the domain of public knowledge (except military or diplomatic secrets), for fear that they might misuse such authority to mislead or enslave us. As a result, each of us is free to put forth any information -- or misinformation -- that we wish. The US government is powerless to stop any of it.

As a result, we can find a staggering amount of inaccurate information in circulation, much of it completely false, much of it objectionable, some of it offensive or insulting, and a significant part of it actually wicked. Nonetheless, I would rather have to go through the effort of turning away from such pollution and ignoring it, and of teaching my children to do so, than to take the risk of empowering some government official to remove it from my sight.

I do not trust government officials or any leader of anything whose success depends on exhorting others to take action in support of some cause or philosophy they claim to believe in (this mistrust is very common in America). If you have been angered by the fact that this offensive video file remains accessible, I hope you can now understand that it is not our wish to keep it in view, but that it remains so because Americans have doubts regarding how long truth would survive in a country whose government is permitted to eliminate objectionable information. On the horns of that dilemma, we have chosen to permit liars to lie so that no one is ever given the means to stop truth-sayers from telling the truth.

Craig Mclane
New York

Final figure

Sir-- Re 'Canada's diplomatic disaster' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 13-19 September) there was "only" one Canadian peacekeeper murdered in Lebanon, not two. I'm not likely to forget the murder of the UN peacekeeper Major Paeta Hess-Von Krudener. I recall being speechless with rage and sending off e-mails to Harper and his shrieking idiot Baird, but no reply was forthcoming -- as if.

Angie Tubman

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