- The Washington Times - Friday, May 4, 2007

A brave activist

Suzanne Field’s trenchant commentary on the activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali in her Thursday column, “Slouching toward 2084,” provides a much needed counterweight to the cavalier and dismissive profile of Miss Ali I read two months ago in The Washington Post (Neeley Tucker’s “True Unbeliever,” March 7). When noting that “Muslim women of her complexion, whom she (Miss Ali) says she wants to rescue from Islamic oppression, tend to recoil,” The Post expressed its agreement with Dutch author Ian Buruma who says that Miss Ali “gleefully alienates the people who share her stated goals.”

In contrast, Suzanne Fields sees this situation in its proper context and calls attention to the “dictatorship of the spirit” and Miss Ali’s prolonged struggle to overcome this “mental cage.”

The pioneering humanist Benedict Spinoza (1632-77), who also sought refuge in Holland wrote: “Mahomet was an imposter, since he completely abolishes the freedom which is granted by that universal religion revealed by the natural and prophetic light, and which I have shown ought to be fully granted” (Letter 49 Spinoza to Isaac Orobio). Compare this with following statement that is attributed to Muhammad: “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him” (Bukhari, vol. 4, bk. 52, no. 260). This is not in the Koran, but it comes from a highly regarded collection of sayings and traditions compiled by the Sunni scholar Sahih Bukhari. Pretending that passages like this don’t exist doesn’t encourage meaningful dialog, it just buys more time for Muslim radicals.

In this war of ideas, much more than personal reputation is at stake. I commend The Washington Times for giving a voice to people who are literally putting their lives on the line to defend the values that keep us free.

ANTONIO R. CHAVES

Hyattsville

France’s decision

The weekend’s French presidential runoff between conservative Nicolas Sarkozy and socialist Segolene Royal continues a contest between individual self-responsibility and the collectivist mentality that was first heralded by France’s 1789 revolution and yet to find its end (“French rivals trade sharp debate blows,” Page 1, Thursday).

Socialism, always more adept at producing rhetoric than at putting food on the table, remains credible to a puzzlingly sizable minority of French voters. What explains its residual allure? Arrogant wealth does breed jealous resentment, and the French are especially adept at both — as readers may have noticed.

The French are also conflicted between accepting that they are not without formidable assets in a competitive world, and fear of the global marketplace and its whims. Needed economic reforms are in the offing only if Mr. Sarkozy triumphs. Handicapped by a news media still dominated by the “1968 generation” of pop-Marxist inclination, he is rescued only by the public’s skeptical regard of the news media: a conceit the French could helpfully export more of.

Despite all, the Gallic experience still carries influence enough that we might all wish them well in their Sunday showdown.

RON GOODDEN

Atlanta

Where to put the first toll booths

I have to admit that D.C. Council member Marion Barry’s suggestion for toll booths in the District is one solution for collecting taxes that I can agree with (“Barry urges worker tolls,” Metropolitan, Wednesday).

This is an outstanding way to be certain that taxes are collected because in order to receive the benefits on the other side of the toll booth, the taxpayer must ante up.

It’s only appropriate that a testing site be chosen, and I think that I have the perfect location for the first toll booth — right outside Mr. Barry’s front door. That way, he will be sure to pay all of his back taxes and not forget about them in the hurried life that he lives.

He will be able to “pay as you go” to obtain the city’s services outside his residence and “pay as you go” to gain access to his abode. I would suggest about a 25 year testing period before the next toll booth needs to be installed.

With all Mr. Barry’s back taxes paid up, perhaps the city’s finances will be back on the plus side of the ledger by that time.

JAMES WEINGART

Arlington

Church, state and JFK

John Yoo’s slam at critics of the Supreme Court’s April 20 abortion rights ruling in Gonzales v. Carhart (“Silly or sad,” Culture, etc, Wednesday) was way off target.

John F. Kennedy was right in 1960 in saying, “I do not speak for my church on public matters” but the five rather unrepresentative Catholics on the court who put their church’s official position ahead of legal precedent, ahead of informed medical opinion and ahead of the rights, health and dignity of women, veered 180 degrees away from JFK’s sincere respect for freedom of conscience and church-state separation. Their behavior was inexcusable.

EDD DOERR

President

Americans for Religious Liberty

Silver Spring

Chasing the baseball legends

In regards to Sammy Sosa’s 595 home runs (“Rangers power past Blue Jays,” Sports, Apr. 28), which means he needs only five more to become the fifth player in history with 600:

Take a look at Babe Ruth’s career, from 1914 to 1935. In his first full season, 1915, Ruth won 18 games and lost only 8. The next year, he was 23-12 with a 1.75 earned run average and nine shutouts; in 1917, he was 24-13 with and ERA of 2.01. He was used as a pinch hitter when he wasn’t pitching, and he had batting averages of .315, .272 and .325 in his first full seasons. The fact is that concerning home runs, Ruth actually had 14 years (1920-1935) with the New York Yankees. Ruth only played a few games with the Boston Braves in 1935.

Hank Aaron was at bat 12,364 times in his 22 year career. Ruth was at bat 8,399 times. Sosa has been at bat 8,492 times. Conservatively speaking, had Ruth had as many at bats as Aaron, his home runs would have totaled 1,114. He would have achieved this total on “hotdogs and beer.” Now, if the Babe had been on steroids, his home run totals would be mind boggling.

HUGO ADIMARI

Alexandria

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