- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 16, 2002

Thinking the unthinkable

Rich Lowry's Commentary column ("Profiles in passenger safety," March 11) has ignited a firestorm of controversy through his sarcastic suggestion that, in the event of a nuclear strike on American soil, the United States should respond by nuking Mecca.

The aftermath of that suggestion has been a wave of hysteria from many upright, upstanding and very concerned commentators who have lamented the irresponsibility of such a suggestion and a deluge of half-literate, nonsensical e-mail from the supporters of the Hamas-front Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Though Mr. Lowry obviously made the original suggestion in a half-serious manner, he actually has a good point. If Islamic nations were to ever use weapons of mass destruction against the West (most likely the United States and/or Israel), the nuclear destruction of Mecca would probably be one of the least extreme responses considered.

Now, this is probably something that it would be best not to threaten directly. But the leaders of nations that would use the world's most deadly weapons against the United States or her allies need to understand just how extreme the consequences of such an act would be.

I could see circumstances where that would be the final result, however. It would probably not be so after a nuclear attack on the United States, the most likely retaliation would fall upon the nation responsible, or the ones most closely associated with the ones responsible. But imagine for a moment a situation in which Israel is attacked from all sides the destruction of that state and its people a certainty. Is it not also certain that Israel would respond to such an attack by turning the entire region into radioactive slag?

However, I would not rule out categorically the possibility that the United States would respond to a substantial attack in an irrational fashion.

Say there were simultaneous nuclear attacks on New York City and the nation's capital. The president, vice president and countless others are dead. The new president, formerly the secretary of the Interior or some such, is hastily sworn in and assumes command of a nation where nearly every person knows one or more of the dead, and much of whose leadership has died as well. To date, the Muslim nations have, on the whole, spent their time since September 11 obstructing U.S. policy while attempting to appear moderate and rational. But can there be any doubt that, with millions dead, the American people would demand swift, just and righteous vengeance?

No one has, even jokingly, suggested that the United States, or anyone else for that matter, should just up and bomb Mecca, or any other part of the Muslim world, to kingdom come for no good reason.

The only reason anyone is even suggesting that such an act may one day be necessary is because of the campaign of terror waged by Muslim extremists against the United States and her allies. Remember, nuclear strikes against Middle Eastern states or targets would occur in the context of a response to an unprovoked nuclear, biological or chemical attack on an American city.

We've all heard the "Islam means peace" nonsense, and we are all well aware that the overwhelming majority of Muslims throughout the world are not turning themselves into human bombs.

But throughout the Muslim world, governments, scholars and citizens are continuing to provide excuses for and incite further terror. The refusal of so many to denounce categorically and in totality all forms of terror, including the brutal campaign being waged against Israel by Palestinian terrorists, leaves the Middle Eastern states open to the charge that they are supporting terror.

The fact that many of these governments continue to contribute to terrorism both financially and materially only makes the matter worse.

Perhaps the knee-jerk left ought to follow its own advice and look to the "root causes" of this situation. Islamic extremists threaten to use the world's most dangerous weapons against innocent people. We have no choice but to prepare to defend ourselves.



ADAM YOSHIDA

Coquitlam, British Columbia

Every activist counts

Commentary columnist Bruce Fein rightly criticizes independent counsel Robert Ray for "prosecutorial abuse" and "character assassination" of former President Clinton ("Proscribing prosecutor abuse," March 12). Mr. Ray issued a final report that, according to Mr. Fein, "gratuitously" declares Mr. Clinton guilty of crimes for which there was no indictment or trial. Mr. Fein rejects Mr. Ray's claim that the public interest dictated a conclusion about the evidence in the final report.

Why would Mr. Ray declare his conclusions about Mr. Clinton's guilt if neither the law nor the public interest required it? I find it interesting that Mr. Ray issued these conclusions just prior to reports that he is on the verge of entering the crowded Republican Senate primary in New Jersey, a primary in which the vote of every Republican activist counts.


RAY WRABLEY JR.

Johnstown, Pa.

Islam's rich legacy

Cal Thomas' March 10 Commentary "Where are the sleeper cells?" does not stand up against the realities of Islamic education in America. As one example, the Islamic Saudi Academy (ISA) boasts 18 years of a crime-free record that testifies to our harmonious Islamic teachings. Our students go on to American colleges and contribute to the prosperity and unity of America in the same tradition as Muslims, Christians and Jews in the U.S. armed forces, fighting shoulder to shoulder defending this nation. At ISA, we believe in God and the revelations given to the prophets Mohammed, Moses and Jesus, and given to all prophets from their Lord (Koran S.2:A.136).

Let the skeptics look to Islam's rich history, with centuries of learning, science, discoveries and tolerance. Let the civil rights, liberties and freedoms guaranteed to all Americans be protected equally. Let education flourish and let religions unite us for a stronger America.


ANTHONY A. NOZZOLI

President

Islamic Saudi Academy

Alexandria

Lay off the pagans

As you are generally considered a reliable source of news and, therefore, the truth in the minds of so many people, I was quite upset to read an editorial with a very errant and hurtful statement in it. In the Feb. 27 editorial, "Licensing nonsense," the author makes the ridiculous statement that "Pagans think human sacrifices are necessary to appease their gods." It is so horrendously obvious that this author has no idea whatsoever what pagans believe in and that publishing such false and disturbing words can do nothing but further hurt an already highly misunderstood religious movement.

I am a pagan. Most of my friends are pagans. I have probably personally known more than 200 pagans, and not a one of them has ever considered human sacrifice necessary or even a remote possibility for any ritual or gathering. Our rede is "Harm thee none." That means no person, no animal, no living creature, as well as the Earth we live on should be hurt in any way if at all possible. We are already persecuted because ignorant people think we are evil witches of the Disney variety, that we worship the devil and brew up spells to harm those we dislike.

It has been hard enough trying to get the word out that we are just a bunch of kind, caring folks who believe the divinity of every religion is the same being, only we call ours by a different name or names. Then irresponsible statements like these are made to perpetuate the ignorance.

I have looked but have not found any apology for this poor judgment in publishing, so I have to assume, for now, that it has either not been brought to your attention or you have not published a note concerning your irresponsibility in printing this. Even better would be to consider publishing an article about the rise of paganism in modern society and explain the truth of our beliefs.

It may not seem a big deal to some, but propagating this type of thought has resulted in discrimination that is no less harmful than that we see with gays and blacks or even Muslims, these days. Pagans I know have been beaten, lost their jobs, and have had their cars, businesses and homes vandalized because of being misunderstood. Please do not be a party to this.


S.B. WOODBURN

Aurora, Colo.


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