- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Dual loyalty?
The Pentagon suggests the motive of Army Sgt. Asan Akbar, a Muslim soldier suspected to have killed one and wounded 15 of his fellow 101st Airborne Division troops in a grenade attack in Kuwait, was resentment and not religion.
The soldier's mother, Quran Bilal, backs up the belief, saying her son feared persecution because of his religious beliefs. Her concern now, she says, is that her son will be blamed because of his faith.
Whatever the motive, the religious and cultural backgrounds of U.S. soldiers now raise some serious questions for the U.S. military and Bush administration alike.
This column learns from the immigration-watchdog group ProjectUSA that since September 11, 2001, more than 30,000 "non-U.S. citizens" have served in the U.S. military.
And the number is growing.
"The Bush administration has ensured that that number will continue to grow by changing the law recently to reward non-citizens in the military with U.S. citizenship at the completion of their tours of duty," ProjectUSA says.
Such a trend, the group says, "raises the knotty question of dual loyalty the kind of question a multiethnic, multiracial, radically egalitarian society is not comfortable asking."
Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the United States (Virginia leads all states in Muslim growth), and ProjectUSA says that "a titanic clash between Western and Islamic civilizations is at least possible."
"With the entire Muslim world seemingly ignited by anti-American sentiment," it says, "we need to ask the uncomfortable questions."
Several soldiers in the 101st are already asking these questions. The Los Angeles Times reports that several soldiers heard Sgt. Akbar declare: "You guys are coming into our countries, and you're going to rape our women and kill our children."

Olive-branch bunch
John Hagelin, presidential nominee of the Natural Law Party in 2000, is founder of the new U.S. Peace Government.
Echoing views expressed by Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota, Mr. Hagelin says millions of peace-loving Americans are "appalled at what they consider to be the recklessness of the Bush administration's policy of pre-emptive warfare."
The new Peace Government, its founder says, will be headed by the nation's foremost scientists, health professionals, educators and other experts whose primary focus will be to apply the most profound scientific knowledge and programs to prevent problems and peacefully resolve conflict.
No mention of what Mr. Hagelin will do for a military to protect all of the above.

Asian twist
Was that a sexually suggestive "lap dance" performed for students at Vienna's Oakton High School or the Asian twist?
"A lap dance," two unrelated adults tell this column.
"How do they know what a lap dance is?" Principal Charlie Ostlund asks Inside the Beltway.
Here's what we know: The high school outside Washington recently sponsored a "cultural fair," during which students were treated to regional dances. One male student, apparently Asian-American, performed a dance that one Oakton parent and one school official describe as "completely inappropriate."
"It does not matter what 'culture' the dance was labeled, for all intents and purposes, and to those in the audience, it was a sexually suggestive lap dance," the parent wrote in a letter to Mr. Ostlund, declining to be identified because he or she "worked within the system."
"My son's discomfort was shared with the audience, both male and female. One student was so upset he became physically ill," the parent claimed, forwarding a copy of the letter to Daniel Domenech, superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools.
"It was wrong to put those students in that position," the parent concluded, and "It wouldn't change the issue if the dancer was a Native American Sumo wrestler."
When we called the school for comment, an unidentified school official told us: "I agree with everything that person said in the letter."
"I put little stock in anything they have to say," reacts Mr. Ostlund, the school principal, calling the anonymity approach "cowardice."
"We have open lines of communication at this schooI," he says. "I'd be delighted to meet with these people face to face."
As for the question at hand, the principal says, "It was a celebration of diversity. How on God's green earth they label it a lap dance is beyond me. It was a performance by one individual, fully clothed, and it received thunderous ovation."
Instead of a lap dance, an aide and supporter of Mr. Ostlund said a better description might be a "belly dance, with a sash tied around his waist."
"Granted, we don't normally see that," she said.

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