- The Washington Times - Friday, November 2, 2001

Safety in secularization

I was deeply saddened by your Oct. 22 story "Putting faith in science," which not too subtly propagandizes faith in God. At a time when our freedom and lives are being threatened by a people who take their religion more seriously than most secularized Americans can even fathom, I find it frightening that the calls for faithfulness, religiousness, worship, sacrifice and piousness here in America have only grown stronger. A conspicuous church sign near my home reads, "Worried about our nation? Trust in God. He is in Control." Does it not occur to anyone that this is the credo by which the faithful martyrs in Afghanistan live and die?

Portland, Ore.

Religion at its best and worst

Balint Vazsonyi's Oct. 16 column, "This 'religion' thing," explained superbly the essence of the culture that made the United States the apex of civilization.
Religion at its best glorifies the fundamental virtues honesty, empathy, kindness and responsibility. Religion at its worst glorifies partisan devotion.
The strife-torn regions of the world are cursed with excesses of religious partisanship. Arabs and Jews have been at each other's throats for many centuries.
Nearly all people in the world want peace and harmony. Unfortunately, power-grabbers can recruit followers by creating fear, pointing to dangers real or imagined. This cynical gambit is used in many different quests for power even domestically, as in unscientific environmentalism, for example.
Defeating deadly enemies is analogous to the surgical removal of cancerous growths. The Bush administration wisely is discriminating between malicious killers and their tragically exploited co-religionists. Maybe the endless chain of revenge can be inhibited, as Christ recommended.

Mount Vernon

Voice against America

Nat Hentoff's Oct. 22 Op-Ed column, "America, land of the free press?" attempts to defend the right of Voice of America (VOA) to air comments by Taliban head Mullah Mohammed Omar to listeners everywhere over the objections of the U.S. State Department. I disagree with Mr. Hentoff. The "free press" should not be used as a tool by our enemies to stiffen opposition to our war on terrorism. Mr. Hentoff cites troop movements as being off limits to the press during war but sees nothing wrong with granting a forum to Omar, a terrorist.
Consider how our willingness to air such a program is viewed by the masses of illiterate, uneducated followers of this leading terrorist. In giving him airtime, we legitimize the illegitimate. Mr. Hentoff incorrectly assumes that the rest of the world, particularly the Arab world, is fair and open-minded and that our willingness to air this program shows we do not fear our enemy's words. He fails to recognize that we gave Omar a tremendous propaganda tool by letting his words be broadcast over the VOA. We unwittingly help the Taliban cause with this irresponsible action. The Arab world surely is laughing at our stupidity.
The Taliban leader is an accomplished liar, a terrorist and an oppressor of his people. He has twisted Islam into a tool to be used to destroy the West and duped thousands of followers into giving their lives to destroy the "infidels," promising them paradise. He relies on the ignorance of Afghans and others to buy this pack of lies and we give him free airtime to promote his message? Incredible.
I often have wondered which side the American media is on. When Bernard Shaw (of CNN) refused to be debriefed during the Gulf War on the grounds that he was a journalist and couldn't show partiality, I was appalled. Now, Mr. Hentoff falls prey to the argument that because of our commitment to a free press, we should allow our enemy to use the VOA when brave American men and women are on the field of battle.
I am convinced that the media is no friend of America. In wartime, America must speak with one voice or risk defeat. There was no worthwhile reason to air the Taliban leader's words except to subvert that voice. Freedom of the press be damned when Americans are in harm's way.

North Olmsted, Ohio

Postal service 'at war with its own employees'

You mention letter carriers' salaries in your concern over higher labor costs at the U.S. Postal Service ("Postal Puzzles," Oct. 28). I wish you had mentioned that the top wage scales for United Parcel Service drivers are higher. The real problem with the Postal Service is its top-heavy management system. There are way too many managers at the ridiculous ratio of one manager for every 10 craft employees. At the end of 2000, $200 million in management bonus money was paid out to 82,000 managers. Postal management has been at war with its own employees for the past five years, resulting in thousands of grievances and very low worker morale. Only a management overhaul will lead to long-term solutions.
Letter carriers deal with many hazardous conditions other than anthrax. We deal with extreme weather conditions, from the grueling summers in the Southwest to freezing cold in the Northeast. Also, we have to deal with air pollution in major cities. We get constant exposure to newsprint, dust and fumes around equipment; there even are concerns of spreading germs through saliva and other forms of contact when dealing with the public. At this time, when Americans are showing more support for our civic workers, we hope letter carriers will not be forgotten. Every year, there are hundreds of stories of the lives letter carriers have saved. We are a valuable part of every community we serve.

Coppell, Texas

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