- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Bush on Muslim morality

I was glad to read about President Bush's visit to a mosque ("Bush praises Islam for its 'morality,' " Friday, Page 1). He reiterated that his war is against extremists, not Muslims in general.

I am pleased that Mr. Bush is again displaying the skills of a responsible leader. He used his position to give us back our confidence after September 11. He continues to display his leadership skills by telling Americans that Islam is not "violent at its core," thereby discouraging hate crimes against American Muslims.

As a Republican Muslim, I find Mr. Bush's comments alleviate the fear I feel when others of my party make less responsible and less educated statements. His understanding that just as those who bomb abortion clinics do not represent Christianity, al Qaeda does not represent Islam will make it easier for me to vote for him in 2004.



Maybe some of his more delusional advisers have convinced Mr. Bush that it is savvy to patronize Muslims at the end of Ramadan. (As they make up less than 1 percent of the U.S. population, Muslims are hardly a formidable voting bloc.) But using adjectives like "honesty, integrity, and morality" to describe Islam is akin to describing communism during the Cold War as compassionate, just and peaceful. Such theoretical concepts are, quite literally, blown away by the facts.

Mr. Bush needs to ask just two questions to see the light. First, what religion has motivated the perpetrators of terrorism in Bali, the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Russia, Israel, Kenya, France and the U.S. in fact, of nearly every act of terror occurring weekly around the globe? Second, why we haven't heard a single prominent American Muslim leader condemn all of this bloodletting, in the name of Allah, unconditionally?

I pray that Mr. Bush knows the answers to these questions, as I believe most Americans do.


Oak Hill, Va.

If I were Ibrahim Cooper, the spokesman for the Council of American Islamic Relations, or any other pro-Muslim lobbyist, I'd be ecstatic about all the free publicity being shoveled out these days by President Bush and his administration. But since I am not, I have to ask: Has the president taken leave of his senses, forgotten his Judaeo-Christian culture and abandoned his Evangelical Protestant beliefs?

What so frightens him self-appointed national theologian and chief political Islamic cheerleader and his administration that they will not admit Islam's violent history? What restrains them from questioning how Islam's sacred texts and clerics can incite so many devotees to such violence to anything or anyone non-Muslim or non-obeisant to Islam.

And why has Mr. Bush decided that ingratiating himself to 0.5% of Americans, if that many, and possibly not offending our "friends" like the House of Saud, is a more attractive option than potentially alienating the 78 percent of Americans who identify themselves as Christians or Jews?


Princeton, W.V.

Faces of death

I read with revulsion Arnold Beichman's column on the film he viewed of convicted criminals being stoned to death in Iran ("Horrors of stoning captured on film," Commentary, yesterday). While stoning undoubtedly is awful, I am sure he also will be interested to know that there are places where people actually are burned alive as punishment for their crimes. This is done by passing about 2,000 volts of electricity through their bodies. If Mr. Beichman contacts the governor of Florida, he may be able to gain access to any pictures taken of such executions. That could include the one in which flames shot out from the hood covering the executed man's head. Because this occurred more recently than the stoning deaths Mr. Beichman saw from Iran, and I am sure high-ranking state officials were on hand for the burning, it is quite likely that such pictures exist. Then, Mr. Beichman could write a column about it from his snug little office at Stanford University.


Ithaca, N.Y.

Trade Rep given a bum rap

In her Op-Ed column last Wednesday, "Zoellick's return," Helle Dale called for U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick to "examine and redress where U.S. [trade] policies went wrong." Mrs. Dale asserted that Mr. Zoellick had largely abandoned the pursuit of global free trade until he was bolstered by Republican victories in the November midterm elections. Here's another view.

Pick any region of the world, and Mr. Zoellick and his team of negotiators have done more in two years for free trade than has been done in any similar period in the agency's 40-year history. Take Asia, for example. The tote board is impressive: World Trade Organization (WTO) entry for China and Taiwan, the passage by Congress of a landmark bilateral trade deal with Vietnam, a broad policy to develop free trade through the Enterprise for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Initiative, the conclusion of a free trade agreement (FTA) with Singapore and a new trade framework agreement with Thailand, and the announcement of forthcoming FTA negotiations with Australia. Couple these achievements with the conclusion of an FTA with Chile, and it is clear that the United States has begun to achieve something that expands on the vision embraced by the first President Bush of a Pacific 5 free-trade arrangement linking the Western Hemisphere with Asia.

U.S. positions in the Doha Development Agenda of the WTO suffer from a bit of misrepresentation in Mrs. Dale's column. She contended that Mr. Zoellick, in announcing his proposal for across-the-board cuts on industrial tariffs, has abandoned the pursuit of agricultural trade liberalization. This claim is incorrect. The twin U.S. proposals on industrial goods and agricultural market access are complementary. Indeed, U.S. negotiators are pursuing both tracks at the WTO while also pursuing greater liberalization in services trade under the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services. Far from being mutually exclusive, U.S. efforts in the WTO form a comprehensive strategy to secure open markets globally for U.S. manufacturers, farmers and service providers alike.

Finally, Mrs. Dale asserted that the American farm lobby does not support the U.S. agricultural trade proposal. On Aug. 9, however, Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau, the largest general farm group in the nation, endorsed the U.S. position, observing that "the administration's proposal will strengthen U.S. agriculture and global trade security without giving away the farm or our domestic markets."



Strategic International Business Practice

Hunton & Williams


The obligations of public-funded universities

Though David Stromberg's letter suggesting that Montreal's Concordia University is a privately funded Christian school and thus need not fund a Jewish club sounds reasonable ("Canadian campus provokes misguided ire," Saturday), the fact is that Concordia is a public university with funding from the province of Quebec.

Merely because a college in a foreign country happens to have a Christian-sounding name does not give Mr. Stromberg license to assume that it is private and can thus limit access to those of other faiths.His conclusions at best smack of ethnocentrism and at worst suggest a willingness to gloss over uncomfortable facts when they do not aid his argument. Concordia, quite rightly, issued a press release stating that the University is concerned about the actions taken by the fully independent Concordia Student Union.

Though Concordia was created through the merger of Jesuit-run Loyola College and YMCA-run Sir George Williams University in the early 1970s, and though it is proud of its heritage, Concordia is a public institution charging in-province and out-of-province students different rates.Private institutions are not known to charge different fees based merely on residency.



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