- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 23, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Obama and the Rev. Wright

I have not had major differences with my religious leader(s) (“Crisis management,” Commentary, Friday). As a political independent, I listened closely to Barack Obama’s speech. I have been impressed with Mr. Obama’s vision, but needed to determine if he is just another politician or the real thing.

One statement gave me cause for great concern. It was when Mr. Obama justified his actions in remaining the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s close friend and a member of his church with the statement that “many viewers must have had major differences with statements made by their leaders.”

I suspect that when children ask their parents, permission to take an action that the parents consider wrong and the child contends that “all my friends are doing it,” the parent responds by saying, “That does not make it right.”

Mr. Wright may have done much good for people in his community and should be commended for that. But when he makes denigrating remarks about America and statements of hate, it gives him a receptive audience accepting his views. This is divisive to our nation and certainly the opposite of Mr. Obama’s stated reason for being in politics.

Religion should be a uniting force. Such statements by religious leaders, along with other religious leaders telling their congregations how to vote, should not be part of religion.

The role of religion and leaders is to teach the gospel of their faith, uplifting members and helping to apply their gospel to doing good, particularly to the poor and needy.

As a youth, in a rural area, I was encouraged by my leaders to join in with many others to prepare land for planting, plant crops, irrigate, help harvest to provide for the poor or assist a family unable to farm because of death or sickness.

Oh. How I and my friends disliked the call to thin and hoe sugar beets. The Amish help each other with barn or house raising.

During times of national disasters such as Katrina or the fires in Southern California, many groups were organized through religious groups of all faiths to provide help to many in need regardless of color.

Our religious teachings and what we learn provides for us a basis for individual actions of helping the poor, the needy and the sick in so many ways. This brings people together.

LLOYD HUDMAN

Orem, Utah

What concerns most of us about the latest group of political candidates is integrity. Has the man or women lived the words they say or are they saying it just to get elected? Then and only then can we judge how we feel the candidate will make crucial decisions that affect our lives as well as the world.

LARRY STONE

Peyton, Col.

Columnist Clarence Page lauds the Obama”race speech.” Mr. Obama had a less-than-firm reaction to the Rev. Wright’s racist and anti-American words by saying that “many of you have heard remarks from pastors, priests or rabbis with which you strongly disagree.”

If most Americans heard the vehemently racist remarksand the verbal equivalent of burning an American flag from a clergyman or woman in the pulpit, they would never return to the church. They would vote with their feet. The church would be empty. Mr. Page makes no mention ofhow other Americans might react.

The senator mentions his grandmother “who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street.” Mr. Page chooses to leave out Mr. Obama’s use of the phrase “typical white” when Mr. Obama refers to his grandmother.

Uncritical analysis of a major speech by a major political figure, especially one who wants to be president, serves no one’s interest. We’re all watching for some critical analysis of Sen. Obama’s reaction.

JOSEPH FARRELL

Alexandria

Paradise lost

As one who has seen firsthand the beauty and prosperity of Rhodesia and then Zimbabwe (“Africa’s battered breadbasket,” Foreign, Thursday), I am deeply saddened by the havoc wreaked on its people by the corrupt demagogue Robert Mugabe. Inflation has now reached a staggering 150,000 percent, higher than the catastrophic post-World War I inflation that helped propel Adolf Hitler into power.

I am also angered by the failure of the United States and Britain to act sooner and more decisively to encourage the political opposition. We have “intervened” in less serious situations in tropical Africa.

I’m not suggesting military intervention, but we could have taken stern economic measures such as cutting off aid and blocking any direct or indirect economic assistance from international organizations.

Perhaps it is too late. Perhaps the long-suffering people will have to take the matters into their own hands, using the remaining fragments of the democratic institutions Britain had bequeathed.

ERNEST W. LEFEVER

Chevy Chase

Self-defense and guns

Robert A. Levy (Commentary, March 19) is right: “Banning handguns outright is quite plainly unconstitutional.” It is not even common sense.

Self-defense is a primary instinct equal to sex or the need to worship a higher power. It is basic to human nature. Not only is it a right, but it is also an obligation. To say otherwise is to deny that life has intrinsic value. The right to self-defense is so basic that it does not depend on either the Constitution or the Bill of Rights for validity.

Criminals, by definition, are not interested in the law but in disarming the noncriminal. We’ve been taught, wrongly, to give in to criminals because “they might have a gun.” The shoe should be on the other foot and the criminal should wonder if the potential victim has a gun.

This needn’t be discussed ad nauseam because it is simple common sense. No amount of talk can change what is, or should be, self-evident: that when appeal to the state is impossible or useless, a citizen must have equal force available and must use it for his own protection.

We should all hope that the Supreme Court sees it that way.

ELIZABETH WARD

NOTTRODT

Baltimore

Fair treatment

Joan Salemi (“Diplomatic courier?” Letters, Thursday) attacks the Bush administration for a perceived tilt toward Israel in the Israeli-Arab conflict. Perhaps the writer has not noted that we have pressed Israel to be forthcoming about a separate Palestinian state, while still leaving the question of Israeli cities and towns outside the temporary pre-1967 armistice lines on the negotiating table. Also left on the negotiating table are the status of Jerusalem and the right of return of the descendants of Palestinian Arabs who left Israel during the 1948 war and compensation to these same descendants, without mentioning the much greater number of Jews forcibly expelled from Arab lands after that war.

Separately, the United States has promised to donate over $500 million to support the Palestinian Authority, including the military wing of Fatah, the al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, which has been responsible for the murder of over 1,000 Israeli citizens during the two intifadas. The money obviously will be used by that terrorist organization in the not-too-distant future, as Mahmoud Abbas has stressed that the continued violence against Israel is an acceptable option if all of his demands are not met.

In light of the above, the present administration has been more than fair to the Arabs, particularly considering their continuing resort to terror and their non-negotiable demands that, if met, would mean the demise of the Jewish state.

NELSON MARANS

Silver Spring

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