- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 31, 2001

Efficiency instead of arctic drilling

Your editorial ("It's about security, stupid," Oct. 24) grossly misrepresents the facts concerning the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
For starters, the amount of oil the U.S. Geological Survey says is commercially recoverable from the refuge ranges from zero to 5 billion barrels, depending on market conditions. The amount you cite is the 5 percent probability of oil that might be recovered if price and the cost of recovery were not a factor. Optimistically, the refuge would meet 1 percent of America's oil needs a decade from now, not enough to make even a modest dent in our imports.
By contrast, improving the fuel efficiency of our cars and sport utility vehicles by just 3 miles per gallon would save what the Environmental Protection Agency estimates to be 1 million barrels of oil per day or five times what the refuge might hold.
Such an approach makes far more sense than to mandate drilling in a national treasure that President Eisenhower originally set aside for its incomparable wilderness and wildlife.

Arctic campaign director
Alaska Wilderness League

Misguided Muslims murdered Americans

In his Oct. 29 letter to the editor, "Don't generalize about Muslim response to attacks," Arsalan Tariq Iftikhar objects to an Op-Ed piece in The Washington Times associating the madmen responsible for the September 11 attacks with Islam. The Muslim community, Mr. Iftikhar points out, did not question the motives of Christians when Timothy McVeigh bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City or the design of Jews in Israeli politics.
Mr. Iftikhar, a member of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, should note that McVeigh was not a Christian. He hated the U.S. government for personal reasons, not because he was inspired by something he read in the Bible. As far as I know, he made no mention of Jesus or any of His disciples. McVeigh was his own man.
Israeli politicians don't act on religious impulses, either. They don't scour the Torah for information on how to conduct foreign or domestic policy. Individual Israelis may practice Judaism, but Israel itself is as secular a country as any Western nation.
The terrorists who murdered more than 5,000 innocent Americans, on the other hand, were Muslims misguided, fanatical Muslims but Muslims nonetheless.
Their hatred for the United States was fueled by stuff they read, or think they read, in the Koran. The training manual of Mohamed Atta abounds with references and quotes from the Koran. The schools in Pakistan where young boys are brainwashed for martyrdom are Muslim-based. Osama bin Laden, the Taliban, the al Qaeda, the adherents of Wahhabism are all Muslims.
Mr. Iftikhar, of course, is absolutely correct in pointing out that the great majority of Muslims, here in America and throughout the world, are peaceful, law-abiding citizens. Our Muslim community organized hundreds of blood drives in the wake of the September 11 tragedy and repeatedly disavowed any religious or cultural ties with the terrorists. At the Alexandria public schools where I substitute teach, the most respectful and dedicated students I know are Muslims.
Yet no reasonable person can deny that the host of zealots bent on destroying America are Muslims, too.


Islam is living through its Dark Ages

I read Jonah Goldberg's recent column (Commentary, Oct 26), "For some, a mind-set that leads to violence," with mixed emotions. I am an American Muslim who was attracted to Islam not only because of its commitment to monotheism and a personal relationship to God, but also because of its values freedom of religion and speech, an unequivocal stand for social and economic justice, an unwavering commitment to due process of law and the belief that all human life is equally valuable, be it adult or child; male or female; white, black, red, brown or yellow; Muslim, Christian, Jew, Buddhist, Hindu, whatever.
I am ashamed of the violence that some Muslims seem to delight in. I am ashamed that charlatans such as Iraq's Saddam Hussein claim to represent Islam. I am ashamed that others, such as the Taliban and the Saudi monarchy, practice oppression and compulsion in the name of a religion that teaches that there is no compulsion in religion.
Perhaps horrific poverty, colonialism, imperialism or occupation and oppression are responsible for some of the ills we see in the Muslim world.
But I cannot help but think that Mr. Goldberg is right that Islam is living through its dark ages. Like Christianity, Islam went through a golden age where it stood for tolerance, education and progress. It was this golden age that led to the Renaissance and the Reformation in the West.
Unfortunately, while Europe was rediscovering itself, Islam slipped into its own dark ages, just as Christianity had slipped into the Dark Ages after its original Golden Age. One can only hope that the House of Islam can experience its own renaissance. If the course of the two religions follow the same path, it may be a few hundred years coming Europe's Renaissance took off in the 1400s, Islamic civilization is only 1,400 years old.
Until then, the rest of us must hold onto the memory of what Islam can be. Those of us within the religion who abhor what has befallen our community must continue to voice our vision of what Islam can be, even if it means standing up against those who would silence us. And we must all wage a jihad (to borrow a phrase from my more militant co-religionists) a jihad for peace and tolerance, for justice and morality, a jihad with words and kind deeds and with the backbone to stand up for what is right, a jihad as the Koran and Prophet Mohammed saw it.


Don't forget United Flight 93

In his Commentary column "Charity money maze," (Oct. 29) Bill O'Reilly accurately identifies a troubling aspect of how efforts to collect money to help victims of the September 11 attacks are operating. Let me add a sad example.
The American Liberty Partnership (Liberty Unites) is a collective corporate effort by Amazon, AOL, Cisco, EBay, Microsoft and Yahoo to centralize donations and relief efforts. It has raised more than $105 million to date as a central clearinghouse. The well-intentioned effort is assisting 30 crash-site specific groups, among them 22 agencies specifically dedicated to providing relief to victims in New York City, and eight specifically for Washington victims.
This is outrageous. Were there not three crash sites? There is not one charity dedicated to the third crash site or its victims. Yet people on this flight performed arguably the most stunning act of selflessness and courage recorded on that terrible day.
We should never forget our shared duty, taught us by five truly heroic men on United Flight 93, who took a vote not to be used as a terrorist missile against their countrymen after learning the fate of the other flights. Their struggle brought Flight 93 down in a Pennsylvania field, far short of its objective to purportedly devastate the U.S. Capitol.
Are the heroes of United Flight 93 so soon dismissed, despite certainly having saved the lives of hundreds, possibly thousands of their countrymen and one of its greatest symbols? City and state governments and officials, including those in Pennsylvania, and even the White House, have lent their overt support and endorsement to the purported comprehensive corporate effort that continues to deny inclusion of the Pennsylvania crash, its heroes and survivors.
All those working in the Capitol can reasonably believe their lives were saved by the victims on this flight.
These heroes having succeeded, however, in avoiding a disaster also thus, it appears, disqualified their survivors from receiving aid from the largest effort to channel America's giving. As the founders of one of the private charitable efforts dedicated to honoring these people whom we unfortunately never met Capitol Heroes Campaign (www.CapitolHeroes.org) we have tried for weeks to change this omission. The exclusion of the families of the heroes of Flight 93 from the efforts of Liberty Unites is a gross oversight that diminishes an otherwise honorable effort."

Capitol Heroes Campaign

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