- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 20, 2002

Falwell, for good and ill

I would like to thank Tony Blankley for the courageous column he wrote Wednesday ("Falwell's fatal words," Op-Ed). Speaking the truth is not an easy thing to do these days, so he deserves to be commended for doing so.
Most Muslims in this country usually make a distinction between "conservatism" and "right-wing extremism." However, the louder voice of the latter is threatening to blur this distinction among many Muslims.
When our mosque in Denton was hit with a firebomb a few days after the September 11 terrorist attacks by extremist beasts who claim to belong to Islam, most of the reaction that we received was a display of love by the people in town.
Among those were Christian leaders representing almost all the churches, who marched to our mosque to tell us their words of support and love that they believed true Christianity represents.
We would like to believe that people such as these, as well as people such as Mr. Blankley in the media, represent "mainstream conservatism." But people such as the Rev. Jerry Falwell, the Rev. Pat Robertson and the Rev. Franklin Graham, together with their apologists in the media, are trying hard to claim this representation.

Assistant professor of chemistry
University of North Texas

It reeks of political correctness for Tony Blankley to characterize as "foolish and hurtful" the Rev. Jerry Falwell's contention that Mohammed was a terrorist. So does Mr. Blankley's contention that, in the aftermath of Mr. Falwell's remarks, "it will be a long climb out to renewed tolerance."
Regardless of how he delivered his sentiments, Mr. Falwell is right. Apparently, to receive conservative media support nowadays, Muslims simply have to riot and kill a few people because an American Christian tells a truth that would bring the death penalty in the Islamic world.
Ironically, the Muslim rioters laid bare the myth that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance, which is exactly what Mr. Falwell said it is not. Of course, this is something Mr. Blankley, as well as most of our political leaders, simply ignore.
Whether Mr. Blankley or others choose to believe it, we are engaged in a war of civilizations. And unless those in power acknowledge this and take fitting action, we will lose this war due to tolerance grounded in naivete and ignorance.

Princeton, W.Va.

Delayed justice

Former "hippie guru Ira Einhorn, who hid out in Europe for nearly 17 years after being charged with killing his girlfriend, was found guilty of murdering her and stuffing her mummified corpse in his closet" ("'Guru' guilty of murder," Nation, yesterday). Thanks to the terms of the French extradition treaty, Einhorn "was given an automatic sentence of life in prison without parole on the first-degree murder charge."
I hope he will be sent to a prison where he does "hard time," which is why I sincerely hope he is not sent to the State Correctional Institution at Graterford, Pa., where the filmmakers of a music documentary series for cable channel VH1 were permitted to film a band whose members included convicted murderers ("VH1 angers victims' families with plans for 'jailhouse rock,'" Nation, yesterday).
Why? Because the deputy warden of Graterford State Correctional Institute, a maximum-security state prison near Philadelphia, believes they need to be kept busy. According to an interview on VH1.com, David DiGuglielmo thinks that "not giving inmates things to do is dangerous. They need outlets. They need ways to occupy their time. Some of the inmates before they got into music were difficult people."
If criminals such as these rock 'n' rollers and Einhorn need outlets for their extra energy, why not give them a tried-and-true method, such as breaking up rocks?

Delmont, Pa.

Bullets over Medellin

I didn't have to read about it in The Washington Times to know these are dangerous times for us living in Medellin ("Colombia battles Marxists in Medellin," World, Friday. From my apartment, my wife and I listen to the crackle of automatic weapons going on a short distance away.
Under the order of President Alvaro Uribe, security forces are to drive the rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia out of the area. I cannot foresee how successful they're going to be. As far as I can see, force is applied while ignoring completely what drives people to rebel against the establishment.
The authorities do not care that the poor in Colombia are treated like trashy substance by the government and people of wealth. They are denied opportunity, equal justice under the law and proper medical attention. This is a heartless society. It is a society corrupted to the maximum, where all monetary aid to the poor ends up in politicians' foreign bank accounts.
I wish members of Congress could only see it the way it is and stop funneling our hard-earned tax money into the hands of Colombia's politicians. Most Colombians run for public office not to do their best for their country but to enrich themselves in the shortest possible time and we are helping them reach their goal.
Our policy toward Latin America as a whole is one that is blind to corruption and maltreatment of people. Any leader in Latin America who dares oppose our policy runs the risk of being overthrown or labeled a terrorist sympathizer.
Well, I am not a politician. I am just an ordinary American who loves his country dearly, despises terrorism and loves people from all walks of life. I pray my congressmen would someday do the same.
By the way, I would like to live in my country, but with my sorry pension, my Colombian wife and I would drown in an ocean of costly waves.

Medellin, Colombia

Upbeat on Memphis

Suzanne Fields did a much better job capturing the spirit of Memphis in her column "Memphis in black, white and blues" (Op-Ed, Thursday) than did the disgruntled Memphian who slammed the city in his letter to the editor ("Memphis blues," Friday).
Memphis is a fine place to live. It's been a great place to raise our two daughters, who attend excellent Memphis city schools. The "tree huggers" maligned by the letter writer helped to preserve several of our beautiful parks. The Memphis Zoo is thriving, and its China exhibit has announced plans to add two giant pandas in the near future.
Downtown Memphis is booming. The new AAA baseball stadium is a great spot to take in our national pastime. Beale Street has been revitalized. The Peabody Place development has been very well received. Memphis barbeque is world famous, and good new ethnic restaurants are springing up all around town.
Of course, Memphis still has plenty of challenges to face. Poverty and racism have not disappeared. The quality of our public schools is inexcusably inconsistent. However, with the notable exception of talk radio, the Memphis conversation is focused on ways to solve our problems and make Memphis a better place to live in the future.
Thanks to Suzanne Fields for appreciating that.


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