Letters to the editor

Blowing smoke

Virginia Group to Alleviate Smoking in Public (GASP) co-founder Anne Morrow Donley’s comparison of the House’s refusal to ban smoking to a willingness to allow slavery shows an astonishing lack of taste and perspective (“Effort to ban smoking rejected,” Metropolitan, Friday).

Working a second job as a bartender, I’ve often complained of late nights and demanding customers, but it’s never occurred to me to compare these annoyances to the plight of the millions of slaves who were held in captivity, torn from their families and forced to labor under threat of the lash.

I find her statement personally insulting, too. Given the rapid rates of turnover in the hospitality industry and the variety of smoke-free jobs it already offers, I don’t need the government to emancipate me from my masters.

Bar and restaurant workers are capable of deciding for themselves whether to work in a smoky environment.

If Miss Donley’s sincere goal is to protect workers from secondhand smoke, there are ways of accomplishing this that are far less coercive than a ban. Kudos to the Virginia House for blocking this latest assault on individual freedom.

JACOB GRIER

Arlington

A proud American

Reading the comments by 44-year-old Michelle Obama that “for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country” woke me up much faster than the usual cup of caffeine (“Finally ‘proud’” Inside Politics, yesterday). I’m a few years younger than Mrs. Obama, yet within a minute I could think of many ways that I have been proud of my country.

I was proud of America when so many firefighters and police officers poured into the Twin Towers on September 11 to do their duty in the face of clear danger; I was proud of America the day I graduated from college (not Princeton like Mrs. Obama, but a small private college to which I paid my own way); I was proud of America when thousands of us sent money to help the survivors of the tsunami in Southeast Asia; I was proud of America when I stood beside my immigrant husband as he became a U.S. citizen; I was proud of America when we saved the bald eagle from the brink of extinction and brought wolves back to Yellowstone National Park; I am proud of America every time I see a parade or fireworks; I’m proud of America because my children have never had cavities because our ingenuity and free markets have given us the best toothpastes in the world.

Every day is a day to be proud and thankful to have been born in the United States.

GINA RIAZI

Silver Spring

Gitmo and American justice

The announcement by the Pentagon that it has charged six “high-value” detainees at Guantanamo Bay raises yet more questions about the conduct of the United States in the war on terror and its brand of justice (“Death penalty sought in 9/11 attacks,” Page 1, Feb. 12).

Can we really consider it a fair trial if the best the detainees can hope for is a lifetime locked away in Guantanamo Bay prison?

Can we really say justice is being carried out if the defendants will not be able to speak to their lawyers in private and evidence obtained through torture, such as waterboarding, will be admissible?

In addition, the government is seeking to pursue the death penalty against these men in a military commission system that fails to meet internationally acceptable standards.

The U.S. government should pursue justice for the victims and survivors of September 11 and security for its citizens within a framework of respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Failure to maintain this balance will result in further erosion of America’s standing in the world, and the quest for justice for the crimes of September 11 will have been dealt another serious blow.

FOLABI OLAGBAJU

Director, Mid-Atlantic Region

Amnesty International USA

Washington

Shariah in the UK

The archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, recently called for the application of Islamic law (Shariah) in Britain, saying it “seems unavoidable” and that “there is a place for finding what would be a constructive accommodation with some aspects of Muslim law certain provisions of Shariah are already recognized in our society” (“Anglican head backs some Islamic rules,” Page 1, Feb. 8). These comments reveal the archbishop’s submissive ignorance. However, he was correct in asserting that elements of Shariah already have been implemented in Britain. This fact portends a dismal future awaiting our allies in Britain, and highlights the West’s self-imposed ignorance to this global threat.

The archbishop’s public comments brought swift condemnation from Anglican leadership, lay followers and the British community at large and strong language from Prime Minister Gordon Brown to the effect that Britain will never accept Shariah over British law. Though Anglican outrage condemns Islamic law as incompatible with Western moral and legal codes, the prime minister should take note that Britain is well along in the process of submitting to Islamic law. Tell-tale signs over recent weeks include:

n Polygamy is now permissible although it contradicts established British law.

n The words “Islamic,” “Muslim” and related terms are not to be used in the United Kingdom to refer to terrorists or acts of terrorism conducted by persons and groups that identify themselves as Muslims and explicitly act in furtherance of an Islamic agenda. Furthermore, the term “anti-Islamic activity” has been declared by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith as the only acceptable term allowed by government officials to describe these same persons and groups.

n There are areas in the United Kingdom where Islamic enclaves exist and ever-expanding Muslim control has become a de facto reality on the ground in accordance with the Islamic Doctrine of Sacred Space. (Once land becomes Muslim land, it can never become anything else.)

n The leadership of many major Muslim organizations in the United Kingdom is known to be close to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is openly hostile toward democratic systems and whose creed and the current written/spoken doctrine of its leaders supports the infiltration of Western governments in order to replace their systems of government with Shariah.

This leaves one wondering if anyone in the leadership of the United Kingdom has read Islamic law. Legal systems are intended to be monopolies where they exist. Where some Islamic law exists, it all exists. Shariah does exist, is practiced around the world and does not permit “partial implementation.” Having opened the door to Islamic law, Mr. Brown is initiating a slow process of submission of his people and government to the requirements of Islam. Islamic law is unequivocal in its requirement to bring Islam to the world, peacefully if possible, but by force jihad if necessary. Islamic law defines jihad against non-Muslims as “warfare to establish the religion.” There is no other definition of jihad in Islamic law. Does Archbishop Williams know this? Does the prime minister know this? For that matter, does anyone in the U.S. government know this?

DAVID MEYERS

Woodbridge, Va.

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