- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 4, 2001

'Islam' means neither 'peace' nor 'submission'

Commentary columnist Cal Thomas incorrectly states that the word "Islam" means "submission" and not "peace" ("Can we be fooled twice?" Oct. 3). The actual definition of the word Islam is a combination of the two meanings he discussed: The attainment of peace via submission to God. The word Islam is derived from the Arabic root word "slm." Related words include "salaam," which means peace.
If Mr. Thomas desires an accurate and more detailed explanation of the word Islam, I recommend that he consult a historian who is able to speak, understand and write Arabic.

ARIF RAFIQ
Greenvale, N.Y.

Support for Israel escalates hostility toward U.S.

I think A.M. Rosenthal's Oct. 1 Commentary column "Where terror also lurks" is shortsighted in its failure to look into the root causes of the conflict we now face. His plan of action (trade sanctions on nations that support terrorism, the defeat of Iraq's Saddam Hussein, etc.) would only serve to further escalate hostility toward the United States. I fear that to pursue entire nations would not only be unfair, but would also serve to drag the United States into further foreign engagements.
Mr. Rosenthal managed to avoid mentioning the source of this conflict: the unilateral American support of Israel. As someone who has just returned from the Middle East, I can assure you that the violent suppression of the Palestinians by the Israeli government is the primary source of outrage for many throughout the Arab world.
The claim that the perpetrators of terror hate freedom is unfounded. It is the images witnessed daily of slain Palestinian children and bulldozed homes that drive some to the extreme. Our country turned its back on the world by following Israel in walking out on the U.N. racism conference in Durban, South Africa, just a few months ago. We can no longer afford such favoritism.
We can only hope to prevent the further escalation of violence by opening our eyes to the causes of those victimized the world over.

FAISAL AHMAD
Albany, N.Y.

Acts of extremists don't delegitimize sacred texts

In his Oct. 2 letter to the editor, Moorthy Muthuswamy makes downright sacrilegious and denigrating comments about Islam in trying to explain the terrorism that has affected people of all faiths ("Certain Koran verses threaten world safety").
There are extremists in all religions. That does not mean, however, that we should start to desecrate our holy books to find solutions to our contemporary political and social problems.
In India today, for example, many Christians and Muslims are victims of aggression and violence. Does this mean that we should start to expunge certain chapters from the Bhagavad-Gita and other holy scriptures? Does it mean that we should have a say in how Hinduism is preached and practiced?
Radicals use religion to denounce others as "infidels" and to justify their diabolical goals. Mr. Muthuswamy, an individual informed in current affairs, should steer away from making similar impudent pronouncements about the religions of others.

ASIM L. ALI
Lake Ridge, Va.

Canceling missile defense is 'decent' thing to do

In his Oct. 2 Commentary column, "Greens vs. missile defense shield," Bonner R. Cohen demands that those suing the Pentagon for its Alaska-based missile-defense project withdraw their suit. This, he says, would be the decent thing to do in response to the terrorist attacks and the new threats we face. As a plaintiff in that lawsuit, I believe canceling the project would be the decent thing to do. That way, the billions of dollars appropriated for the project could be reallocated to meaningful forms of defense against terrorist acts.
Before Sept 11, national missile defense (NMD) was imposed on Alaska and the American taxpayer for no better reason than to support defense contractors in an uncertain post-Cold War environment. Before Sept. 11, NMD was an unproven experiment, directed only at land-based launches from intercontinental ballistic missile sites (not sea-based, short-range or terrorist-delivered threats). NMD was an exercise in neo-isolationist hubris, designed to breach, unilaterally, the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. These problems remain. Now, however, NMD will drain defense dollars we need to protect ourselves against an array of new terrorist threats, which should be our national defense priority. Going forward with NMD will impede an alliance with Russia and other nations, which we need to fight terrorism. Such alliances must be built on promises made and kept.
Whether or not they agree with the arguments in our legal complaint, Congress and the president should revisit and debate NMD anew. That is the truly decent thing to do in response to the Sept. 11 attacks and their aftermath.

STEPHEN CONN
Executive director
Alaska Public Interest Research Group
Anchorage, Alaska

Now is the best time in decades for a capital gains cut

Commentary columnist Bruce Bartlett fell into a common liberal fallacy when he wrote that a cut in the capital-gains tax rate would not help the economy in the short run ("Trade, terror … and what the economy needs," Oct. 3).

He writes, "How will it help the stock market to encourage the sale of assets that have appreciated in value? … Like it or not, Keynesian economic theories are better suited to short-run stimulus." Wrong. A cut in the capital-gains rate will stimulate short-term spending and long-term growth. The same cannot be said of government spending (which only displaces private spending) or a consumer tax cut (which could be spent on foreign imports, doing nothing for American jobs or growth).

Since the return on growth stocks is through appreciation, a cut in the capital-gains rate has the effect of increasing prospective after-tax returns to this whole class of stocks. Higher earnings prospects increase the value of and demand for these stocks, driving up the stock market and attracting capital to these ventures. This investment doesn't disappear into thin air; businesses spend it on hiring, training or equipment, all of which drives up current (i.e., short-term) demand.

Mr. Bartlett repeats the fallacy of liberal economists that demand comes from retail consumer or government spending. But demand created by business spending is just as real and more auspicious. When businesses spend, it is to improve productivity, meaning more growth and jobs into the future.

Mr. Bartlett writes, "How will it help the stock market to encourage the sale of assets that have appreciated in value?" We are, of course, at a historic stock market low-point, meaning there would be little of this asset-appreciation selling. The effect of a capital-gains rate cut would be mostly on future activities, rather than realizations of past activities.

In other words, now is the best time in decades for a capital-gains rate cut. No other economic policy comes close in terms of short-term stimulus and long-term growth for the pensions and salaries of Americans.


ERIC RICHTER

Wyoming, Mich.

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