- The Washington Times - Monday, August 25, 2003

Who is the narcissist?

Frederick Grab’s column “Malignant narcissism” (Op-Ed, Aug. 15) left me with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach — but not for the reasons he intended. It began by describing Silicon Valley and its accompanying monsters and masters, then wandered through video games and how our society has become obsessed by them and accompanying volatile movies and thus has perhaps evolved many in our society into malignant narcissists, taking pleasure in causing pain or destruction to others. Up to that point I was following him, but then he made a light-year jump to Colorado and the Kobe Bryant case. (I think even his high school English teacher would have had a hard time with his train of thought on that one.)

Reading between the lines, I assume that he is accusing the 19-year-old accuser in the case of being a malignant narcissist — “causing pain and destruction to others through the use of exploitation of love or confidence.” He then makes the statement that “Little Miss 19 didn’t go up to see Kobe to get his autograph, did she folks?” And, “In her Star Search mind she got exactly what she came for.” As a former California deputy attorney general, I think you should be ashamed of yourself, for passing judgment in the press, and certainly not in a non-accusatory manner, but with name-calling and perhaps psychic powers that none of the rest of us have. Were you there that night? Do you, unlike any of the rest of us, have direct, eyewitness accounts? Do you believe you are entitled to be judge and jury here?

Sex is not always about love, Mr. Grab, as your article would so like us to believe. It is frequently about power. In most cases, men have it and women do not. Do women have the power to tease, to look sensual, to flirt? You bet. Just as men do. Are women (and men) supposed to be able to change their minds at any time in the sexual act? I believe so.

Whatever happened between Miss 19 and Kobe Bryant may never be known by anyone but the two of them. However, malignant narcissism could have occurred just as easily on the side of Mr. Bryant. Celebrities in our society are so revered by many that it appears that some actually think they walk on water. Sports figures who break laws but are allowed to play in important games despite their offenses, movie stars who get off with slaps on the wrist for infractions of the law — these “punishments” all have the potential to lead these icons to feeling invincible. Now, add extreme body size to the picture, as in the case of Kobe Bryant, and what additional superhuman feelings might this type of celebrity have?

I am not here to say who is right and who is wrong. Perhaps Miss 19 did not use good judgment in going to Mr. Bryant’s room. (Do you know many 19-year-olds who have developed good judgment yet?) Mr. Bryant, a married man, admits to not having used great judgment himself. As an accuser of abuse, do you think any 19-year-old wants to have her situation dragged through the media, with columns like yours basically accusing her of asking for what she got? It wouldn’t be my choice.

Do you know that in the United States, one in three girls and one in six boys are molested by the age of 18? Do you wonder how many come forward compared to those who keep quiet out of shame and guilt and fear of being called one of many names under the sun? Of having their reputations tainted forever? I am a survivor myself. The pain and lifelong scars left by someone in a position of trust took me years to uncover and address. Had I spoken up at the time it happened, perhaps I would have dealt with it better then and throughout my life. Yet, I was too afraid to tell anyone. Now, at this point in my life, I tell everyone about my past and speak on the issue because I hope it will help others let go of their secrets and talk about their experiences, for healing comes when you can let the secret out and not let it eat at you for a lifetime.

I do not know the real story of Kobe Bryant and Miss 19. I am not here to judge. That is for the court and jury to decide. Not me. Not you. Not the media. But when people like you write columns like yours, it only makes me wonder.

MARY JO FAY

Parker, Colo.

Climate change and forest fires

Tom Nelson accurately points to increasingly destructive wildfire seasons and the destruction caused by growing insect infestations (“Forest health-care crisis,” Commentary, Friday).

While Mr. Nelson suggests our nation’s forest management policies as the cause of the problem, he unfortunately chooses not to question how our national unwillingness to address global warming threatens our forests.

The following excerpts are included in the 2001 Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in a section dealing with forests and woodlands:

“… climate change is likely to increase the number of days with severe burning conditions, prolong the fire season, and increase lightning activity, all of which lead to probable increases in fire frequency and areas burned.”

It goes on to say, “Under climate change, damage patterns (to forests) caused by insects may change considerably, particularly those of insects whose temporal and spatial distribution strongly depend on climate factors.”

To consider how to protect our forests without considering how to reduce carbon pollution and the threat of global warming is foolhardy.

JONATHAN PEARSON

Takoma Park, Md.

Violence in the Mideast

In her Friday Op-Ed column, “God’s will?”, Diana West documents the prescription for violence against non-Muslims that infuses much of Islamic religious doctrine. Islam (which means “submission”) is unique among the world’s major religions in this respect and in the fact that this doctrine of violence is carried out in practice. Muslims are quick to point out that much violence has been committed in the name of other religions, such as the Jews conquering Canaan more than three millennia ago and the Christian Crusades in the 12th and 13th centuries. But this juvenile response: “Well, your ancestors killed non-believers [hundreds or thousands of years ago]” concedes the crime and leads nowhere.

Nowhere is precisely where Islam is headed, and the rest of the world with it, unless we join the battle and defeat the death-mongers. Our world today is saturated with Islamic violence; indeed, one would be hard-pressed to identify an act of terrorism today carried out by non-Muslims. (Yes, I realize that Palestinians consider Israel’s assassination of terrorist leaders terrorism, but so did anti-Semites regarding Israel’s abduction and execution of the notorious war criminal Adolf Eichmann.) At any time during the past three years, The Washington Times could have inserted the word “Islamic” before “terrorist” in any headline and been factually, if not politically, correct.

Jews and Christians cry out against terrorism; Muslims excuse it. In the Mideast, where children are taught that murdering Jews is a holy duty, Muslim leaders calmly explain that the murder of infants, schoolchildren, and teenagers on buses and in pizza parlors, discotheques, and grocery stores by Islamic suicide bombers is Israel’s fault.

Why is there not a single, prominent Muslim group unconditionally condemning Islamic violence? Perhaps because death and destruction are inextricably woven into the fabric of Islamic practice and belief. When Mrs. West asserts that “[t]his is what must cease if ever there is to come a change for the better,” she and we know better than to hold our collective breath. Around the world, Islam is waging war, not peace, on its non-Muslim neighbors, and Islamic terror claims more victims every day.

SAMUEL R. LEWIS

Oak Hill

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