- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 6, 2002

Muslims can be good Americans, too

I am a New York City police officer who assisted in the rescue efforts following the September 11 attacks. I also am president of the American Muslim Law Enforcement Officers Association.
Both as a police officer and as a former U.S. Marine, I have sworn to protect and serve my fellow citizens against harm. In this, I am no different from thousands of Muslim Americans in my case, a Muslim of Arab descent whose contributions to our society should not be overshadowed by an evil few among us.
In the future, I hope The Washington Times will print no more pieces like Balint Vazsonyi's "Facts of tolerance" (Op-Ed, June 4), which falsely promotes negative views of Muslim Americans. Instead, let us learn tolerance and respect for each other. This is my country. I love it and would die for it. I do not intend to leave.

American Muslim Law Enforcement Officers Association
Brooklyn, N.Y.

What Mr. Vazsonyi should have written in his "Facts of tolerance" is that Islam has been a largely tolerant religion throughout history. The minority of Muslims who abuse Islam to spread anger, mistrust and hatred against others do so against the fundamental basis of the religion. May I remind The Washington Times that many more Muslims died as victims of the September 11 attacks than as perpetrators.
As a Western convert to Islam, I am more aware than many of the depth of misunderstanding about Islam. I used to share those views before finding out the facts. The terrorist bombers made that situation much worse, and Mr. Vazsonyi is exacerbating the situation.

SingaporeMr. Vazsonyi's "Facts of tolerance" paints an interesting, albeit distorted, picture of Muslim Americans.
First, his conflation of Muslims and Arabs is a rather glaring mistake: Many Muslims are Americans, and many Arabs are Christians. This misconception alone hints at his lack of qualification to judge Muslims on the tenets of their faith.
Second, Mr. Vazsonyi's suggestion that Muslims cannot be trusted as true Americans because some Muslims are hostile to America is too pat to be true. Terror is not something Islamic by nature. Without sounding preachy, may I remind readers that the first act of nuclear terror was committed by those who identified themselves as Christians. Just as it would be unfair to blame all Christians for the actions of whoever shares their faith, the same should apply to Muslims.

Blue Bell, Pa.

Asbestos lawsuits without end?

Asbestos, a product that was pulled off the market decades ago, continues to generate lawsuits at an accelerating pace. Thank you for running the editorial detailing how automakers have become the latest target in the trial lawyers' cross hairs ("Asbestos lawyers on the march," May 26).
People who are not sick and probably never will be sick from asbestos contamination account for 80 percent of all asbestos-related claims. The enormity of premature claims has delayed and diluted fair compensation for the seriously ill. So many companies have been driven into bankruptcy that those truly injured may be left without anyone from whom to collect.
Judges and lawmakers need to find a way to move the sick to the front of the line and defer lawsuits from those who are merely trying to beat the statute of limitations in the unlikely event they ever do get sick.

Executive director
Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

It's time for a 'fact-finding' mission to Denmark

Thank you for publishing a thought-provoking piece from the London Daily Telegraph ("Danes roll back welcome mat for immigrants," June 1). While our nation's leaders have been criticized in the past for taking unnecessary trips abroad under the dubious rubric "fact-finding tour," I suggest the United States send some top government officials to Denmark to study how that little nation is protecting its future viability by tightening its immigration policy.
While they are at it, the U.S. officials might send Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta to Israel to learn how to properly secure our airliners from terrorists.

Warrenton, Va.

NEA serves itself, not teachers

As a public school teacher, I wish to respond to a basic inaccuracy in the June 4 editorial, "NEA's breach of faith."
While most of what The Times wrote about the National Education Association is true, it's a stretch to claim that "lots of the public loot finds its way into the pockets of the teachers who can't, or don't, teach." Of course it is true that some teachers can't and don't teach: In every profession, there are people who should find a different job, but no public school teacher I am aware of gets "lots of public loot," and certainly not through any effort by the NEA, which is in the business of taking money from teachers in the form of union dues.
According to my fellow teachers, the NEA exists not to help educators but to advance its own political and educational agenda. To put it lightly, the NEA does not prioritize issues most important to teachers, such as raising their salaries; reducing bureaucratic paper shuffling, which takes time away from teaching; supporting their disciplinary authority over students; or improving classroom curriculum.
In fact, there is very little the NEA does to improve anything for teachers, let alone students, but so long as "lots of public loot finds its way into the pockets" not of teachers but the NEA's lobbyists and bureaucrats, it will keep its stranglehold on public education.

Norfolk, Va.

China's 13-year bout of amnesia

As reported in "Hong Kong vigil voices Tiananmen grief" (June 5), the Chinese government wants the Chinese people and the world to take note only of the country's great economic strides since 1989, while succumbing to collective amnesia regarding the Tiananmen Square massacre 13 years ago.
Although China has gained such coveted prizes as entry into the World Trade Organization, the 2008 Olympic Games and Permanent Normal Trading Relations (PNTR), its harsh treatment of dissidents of all stripes (political party organizers, Internet entrepreneurs, members of religious groups and so forth) ironically has become "normalized" also acquiesced to by many inside and outside China in the name of engagement. Showing zero desire to revisit the Tiananmen issue, Beijing seeks to expunge it from history.
So it is imperative that commemorations such as the one in Hong Kong continue. Books, articles and editorials on the truths of Tiananmen are more important than ever in teaching ordinary Chinese about the brave struggle against Communist tyranny for which some of their countrymen have sacrificed their lives.

Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Richmond
Richmond, Va.

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