- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Voting in D.C.

I had to chuckle reading the Jan. 14 Page One story “Dean victorious in D.C. primary.”

The nonbinding D.C. primary, held primarily to highlight the District’s nonvoting representation in Congress, certainly had an impact on me, although I’m not sure it was the one intended by city officials.

In a meager turnout, voters selected Howard Dean and Al Sharpton as the top two candidates to be president of the United States. One voter was quoted as saying of Mr. Sharpton, “Normally, I wouldn’t have voted for him, but since the votes didn’t count, I figured, why not? Next time, I think I’m going to have to take a look at some of the other candidates.”

If D.C. voters think Mr. Dean and Mr. Sharpton are the best-qualified candidates for president, and with such cavalier attitudes toward voting, it is no wonder there is no great desire by the rest of the nation to change their nonvoting status in Congress.

CHRIS CARBOTT

Bowie

To the victor, go the spoils

In reference to yesterday’s Page One article “Kerry drubs Dean in Iowa caucuses”: It would seem that Rep. Richard A. Gephardt’s presidential campaign has been a miserable failure.

ROGER JOHNSON

Kensington

With the decisive upset victory of Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts in the Iowa caucuses, it is apparent that his election-season Rolling Stone magazine interview, in which he deliberately and unapologetically used the f-word to describe the Bush Iraq war policy, is forgotten and deemed inconsequential and that there will be no price to pay for it.

Iowans, and perhaps most other Americans as well, no longer require that a candidate be one of dignity and refinement or that he comport himself as a gentleman. This is a measure of how far our culture has fallen.

Perhaps Mr. Kerry should promote himself as “a vulgarian for our times.” In today’s world of shattered values, that likely would have great cachet.

OREN M. SPIEGLER

Upper Saint Clair, Pa.

Question to former Democratic presidential front-runner Howard Dean: How do you spell defeat? Iowa caucus-goers ignored Mr. Dean’s angry bombasts of the past year and voted for an alternative. It seems the former governor has no clothes, a chilling discovery in a frozen Iowa winter. Mr. Dean was lucky even to make a third-place showing in the caucus.

Should Mr. Dean change his campaign message? Liberal Deaniacs likely will become disillusioned if the candidate shifts the message too much. Mr. Dean’s ego also may prevent a message adjustment. His middle name could well be arrogance. I suspect Mr. Dean will only get shriller as his campaign marches onward.

Could Al Gore, Tom Harkin and other Democratic luminaries have been wrong about Mr. Dean? Their support did not translate into caucus victory, nor did Sunday school with Jimmy Carter.

What is Mr. Dean to do? Not to worry, he has $40 million to spend in search of the Democratic presidential nomination. Will the money buy it for him? Not if Democrats want a serious candidate to run against President Bush.

JAMES PATTERSON

Washington

Fashion ‘do’

Diana West patently perceives the hijab as a sign of repression (“French fashion?” Op-Ed, Friday). She has her reasons, and as far as some of them are concerned, she is right. Could anyone deny that some Muslim women are coerced to wear head scarves either by peer pressure or simply by the rules or the regulations of the places where they live? This is a sad reality.

Nevertheless, the coin has two sides. Part of the aforementioned reality comprises hundreds of thousands of women who are forced to take off their hijabs against their free will. Miss West is cognizant of this fact as well. She raves and roots about the hijab bans in Turkey and Tunisia. What she misses, however, are the underlying factors that inspire girls to cover their hair despite the proverbial difficulties they would face for making such decisions. In Turkey, for instance, where I personally paid quite a high price as the first parliamentarian with hijab, a majority of the women and girls who demand their freedom to wear scarves come — economically and educationally — from middle- or lower-class families. Unlike the daughters, mothers of these young women and girls are mostly homemakers who had neither the opportunity to pursue careers nor the passion to become “too religious.”

Their daughters, on the other hand, strive to “define” themselves with their adherence to learning as much as their adherence to Islam. They do not want to be “uneducated” like their moms or to be educated, but merely to stay as “wife persons.”

They want it all; they want both worlds, and they want them now. As much as it might sound ironic to some, including Miss West, according to renowned sociologist Nilufer Gole, these girls turn to Islam as an act of “liberation” and “emancipation.”

Miss West argues that “things get intellectually gooey” in a historical context. I fervently disagree. On the contrary, things are in fact very clear vis-a-vis historical vicissitudes. Islamic history is replete with epitomes of tolerance toward non-Muslims. Yet one thing on which I agree with Miss West is the thesis she puts forward — but with a spin. Yes, the head scarf is a feature of Islam; however, to the chagrin of Miss West, Christianity has a history of repressing Muslims. Hence — with the same token — is the undertaking of Christian France of barring hijab a symbol of religious repression?

I thank Miss West for posing her thesis, albeit inadvertently aberrantly, which gave me a new perspective as to why some — relentlessly — fight against Muslims. There is a deep enmity, which stems from the history of centuries, sporadically merging upon the surface. What do you say, shall we hover upon the Crusades?

MERVE KAVAKCI

Arlington

First down for the Browns

Thank you for Dick Heller’s outstanding column on the Browns’ humiliation of the Eagles — and the entire National Football League — opening day 1950 (“Browns’ NFL debut in ‘50 left Eagles flying low,” Sports, Monday).

It was by far the biggest shock of my sports life, and I remember it as if it were yesterday. I was the biggest scoffer in the D.C. area. The only saving grace from the event was that, save for Cleveland, where presumably some fans believed the Browns could win, there was no one around after the game to rub it in. I never met a single person who believed the Browns had a chance. It was a good time not to know anyone from Cleveland.

WILBURN L. MOORE

Falls Church

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