- The Washington Times - Monday, November 18, 2002

Much ado about an Egyptian TV series

In his letter to The Washington Times ("Egypt defends anti-Zionist show," Nov. 9), Nabil Osman, spokesman for the Egyptian government, defends the airing of the Egyptian TV series "Horseman Without a Horse." I can understand why Mr. Osman, like many Muslims and Arabs around the world, is puzzled and confused by the attention this series has garnered.
Freedom of speech is not an American monopoly, and free speech in other countries should not mean falling in line with whatever we tell them to do. Some critics have called the TV series anti-Semitic. Opinions expressed freely in the Middle East will not be friendly to the United States or Israel as long as the occupation of Arab lands continues. Arabs and Muslims do not need a forged book written 100 years ago (The series has been said to be based on "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," but Mr. Osman says that is incorrect) to delegitimize Israel when that country's soldiers are demolishing buildings on the heads of women and children before our very eyes every day.
We also do not see the Bush administration severing its links with the Rev. Jerry Falwell and his cronies even though they defame Islam and all it stands for on nearly a daily basis. We do not see Hollywood studios being boycotted because they constantly portray Arabs and Islam in the most negative light. Intolerant and hate-filled statements and remarks are sometimes tolerated in this country because of the right to free expression. Yet when a private Egyptian TV Channel airs a series that might or might not be offensive to certain groups, the world turns upside down and all the talk of freedom of expression and free speech flies out the window.
The beauty of American values is that they also are universal values. Therefore, you cannot hold others to a different standard and criticize them when they demand the same right for themselves.


Concerning the row that has been made before the airing of the Egyptian series "Horseman Without a Horse" on private Egyptian television, ("A mirage of freedom and democracy," Letters, Tuesday), I am highly disturbed at how different standards are applied to the same subjects. Arabs and Jews are considered as one family of Semites. If Arabs were bashed, that should be considered anti-Semitic, but this is not the case. It only applies when the Israeli government is criticized one way or the other.
Moreover, I wonder how anyone can draw a judgment without watching the complete production. This is very subjective. I know for sure that Egyptians are not anti-Semites. We have to remember that Egyptians were the first to reach out to the Israelis in peace.


Target missed on ballistic fingerprinting

The gun-control arguments of Martin Schram ("Shooting down worthy laws," Commentary, Saturday) fail on several counts. Ballistic fingerprinting is dubious for at least three reasons: 1) The ballistic fingerprint of a newly manufactured gun under highly controlled conditions will change as it is broken in and used; 2) the print can depend on the type and brand of cartridge; and 3) it can be changed easily by simple home-remedy gunsmithing. Furthermore, guns used in crimes typically are obtained illegally, making it impossible to trace from the print to the user. All this makes the highly expensive scheme totally useless.
Mr. Schram's argument concerning confiscation is erroneous in that pro-gunners are not concerned about foreign enemies, but rather our own government. While many anti-gun folks are well-intentioned, the dedicated and well-financed members of the anti-gun lobby, in their more candid moments, make no bones about the fact that their ultimate goal is a total ban on private gun ownership.
Their motives and actions have nothing to do with crime or gun safety but everything to do with control over citizens, which we don't need. As to comparing the situation to automobiles, I have never seen the slightest hint of a movement to ban the private ownership of automobiles.
The whole debate on firearms should focus on the overall benefits and advantages of gun ownership versus the disadvantages, as pointed out in the excellent column by Thomas Sowell ("In for repair and recrimination?") in the same edition. Well-researched data shows that the many positives of gun ownership far outweigh the negatives.
Additionally, two important aspects of private gun ownership should be kept in mind, one symbolic and one practical. Tyrannical governments and citizens with the right to keep and bear arms are incompatible notions, as our Founding Fathers realized. As a practical matter, gun ownership makes the citizen able to defend himself and his family rather than be dependent on and under the control of the government.
We need no new laws, but as evidenced by the fact that Bull's Eye Shooter Supply, where sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad bought his gun apparently was still in business, we need tougher enforcement of existing laws.
May common sense ultimately prevail.

Arnold, Md

America bulging at the seams

In Thursday's Commentary column "Costly immigration," Paul Craig Roberts cites many reasons why unlimited immigration is very expensive to our nation. However, he fails to cite the fact that immigration, both legal and illegal, is the major factor driving our current population explosion. Failure to curb this unprecedented increase in population will result in a billion Americans by the end of this century.
Imagine what the nation will be like with four times the population overcrowded schools and hospitals bulging at the seams, transportation grinding to a halt, and total gridlock everywhere. It's not an appealing prospect for future generations. The only way to avoid this bleak future is to take a timeout in immigration and ultimately reduce it to levels that will assure that a decent quality of life will be available for our children and grandchildren.

San Diego

Article shortchanged Annan's speech

In his article Thursday regarding United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan's speech at the University of Maryland ("Annan says 'gloom' blocks Mideast peace," Metropolitan), Patrick Badgley missed perhaps the key theme of the speech: Israel's continued encroachment on the lands occupied since the 1967 war is fueling a cycle of violence within an increasingly impoverished, hopeless and desperate Palestinian population.
He was correct to point out that Mr. Annan blamed both sides for creating an atmosphere of gloom and defeatism that has led to the most recent Israeli-Palestinian violence, but Mr. Annan also stressed that peace requires a "leap of imagination" or radical vision similar to what the late Anwar Sadat made during his historic visit to Jerusalem in 1977 which eventually led to the 1978 Camp David peace accords between Israel and Egypt.
It also was quite clear from Mr. Annan's speech that the harsh conditions imposed under Israel's military occupation and the continued building and expansion of Israel's illegal Jewish settlements are not helping build the mutual trust that is necessary for peace but instead are undermining that trust. Perhaps it was because of a fear of being accused of a pro-Palestinian bias that The Washington Times chose not to emphasize this important theme in Mr. Annan's speech. However, until a majority of Israelis take a leap of faith in creating a future Palestinian state along the pre-1967 borders and uprooting most of Israel's illegal Jewish settlements, including in and around Jerusalem, the cycle of violence will continue.


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