- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 29, 2004

Hollywoodized Christianity

So the new film “Saved!” cushions its jabs, does it (“Snarky ‘Saved!’ shows a little mercy,” Show, Friday)? Very decent, I’m sure, but it still betrays Hollywood’s continued determination to see nothing but the dark side of religion and to judge the many by the few.

While there are indeed Christians worthy of satire (a very old theme by now) and some, lamentably, worthy of condemnation, most are just normal people trying their best to live good lives. Much of what is good and decent in our society we owe to them.

The ignorant self-deception of Hollywood producers is, of course, their right, but they had better hope that no “Christians” after their fashion ever make movies. The simple, narrow-minded bigots would no doubt use the opportunity for a little payback: every People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals member an arsonist and vandal, every homosexual man a pederast, every abortionist a cold-blooded killer.

If Hollywood is intent on moralizing to the religious, perhaps it might take a page from the Bible: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

JEFFREY FULLER

Silver Spring

Fickle loyalties

Regarding “The uneasy loyalties of a Muslim soldier,” (Page 1, Monday): I found the headline of this article troubling, especially as a veteran.

A soldier takes an oath to defend the Constitution. If his loyalties are elsewhere, he shouldn’t take that oath. As our military comprises 100 percent volunteers now, there is no excuse for one saying he had no choice.

According to the nuance of the article’s headline, I should have been conflicted because I am Catholic (what if I have to fight other Christians?), a woman (could I be counted on to follow orders if I feel that I, or others, are being treated unfairly because of our sex?) or Hispanic. (What if we were to fight in South America?) What if I were Buddhist? (Send me to Korea, and I will be conflicted.)

The list could ridiculously continue, especially now that homosexuals are clamoring for things based on their orientation. Since there have been Muslims who have betrayed their sacred oaths and our trust, it is not without cause that non-Muslim soldiers might wonder about others doing so. Your headline makes it seem as if there will always be a conflict of loyalties. That is unsupportable in our armed forces.

TESA BECICA

Van Nuys, Calif.

Up, up, up they go

Regarding Tuesday’s editorial “Kerry and high fuel prices,” it seems safe to assume the author did not have much training in economics. I would not claim to be a major supporter of gasoline taxes, primarily because they cause undue harm to Americans of lesser means who often are not able to rely on public transportation. A reduction of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve does, indeed, seem to be a proverbial drop in the bucket, but this article is terribly irresponsible in likening a 50-cent gas tax to a 50-cent rise in OPEC’s price for a gallon of oil.

First, Americans need to think about taxes as the direct result of government spending. Any tax change without a corresponding change in government spending only changes the timing of payments. The amount owed is still the same. Thus, a 50-cent gas tax would be directly offset for the American people by savings on future income-tax payments. Conversely, a 50-cent gas-tax reduction would be just like leaving those debt payments owed on a credit card. It’s a low-rate card, but that’s also because we have no way of ever going bankrupt and getting out of those charges we’ve run up.

Also, a world price increase accrues to the producers of gasoline (largely not in America), whereas a 50-cent tax stays within the American government and the American economy. It’s a substantial difference. I agree, it’s generally better from a pure economic perspective to have that money in the hands of private citizens, but I’d rather have it in the hands of Uncle Sam than private citizens abroad. Ultimately, I’m still a shareholder in Uncle Sam.

My overall message: Regardless of your opinion on Sen. John Kerry or President Bush, be fair to economics, so that we can make rational policy that benefits America overall.

CHRIS NICHOLSON

San Francisco

Tension in the ranks?

Bill Sammon’s article, “Bush campaign takes aim at Kerry” (Page 1, Thursday) was troubling on two counts.

First, Mr. Sammon quotes two Bush campaign sources on their perception of Sen. John Kerry’s flaws as a candidate but fails to include a Democratic or even neutral source to provide balance. Perhaps Mr. Sammon should simply let the Bush campaign write his copy for him, to save the trouble of taking notes.

Second, an incumbent who needs to distract voters from his own performance in office is in big trouble. The Bush campaign’s avowed intention of attacking Mr. Kerry’s character and fitness is only an admission of Mr. Bush’s own weakness in those areas.

The Bush campaign’s core message, pushed by TV ads and talking-head surrogates, is that Mr. Kerry is a flip-flopper on issues. It is hard to imagine that voters are not going to see through this silly disingenuousness. After all, it comes from an incumbent who initially opposed creation of a Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security, then not merely reversed himself but created an even more massive federal bureaucracy than Democrats had advocated. Mr. Bush also initially opposed the formation of the independent commission that he eventually created to investigate the September 11 attacks. His administration has altered its proposals for a post-Saddam Hussein government in Iraq so many times that one needs a flow chart to make sense of it.

What Mr. Bush’s advisers really should be worrying about is conservative voters who finally may be realizing the extent to which Mr. Bush has betrayed core conservative principles. If a Gore administration had run up a record budget deficit, usurped local control of schools, misled Congress about the cost of an expansion of Medicare drug benefits, given government agents the power to scrutinize what books citizens read and acquiesced to the detention without charges and the abuse of prisoners in offshore facilities, conservatives rightly would be up in arms.

PATRICK J. KIGER

Takoma Park

Battle of the sexes

Jack Wheeler’s Op-Ed column, “‘Take it like a man’” (May 21), was right on target. He clearly articulated what frustrates many of us: the Army’s failure to hold Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski responsible for the failure of her command of Abu Ghraib and all U.S. military prisons in Iraq, most likely due to the fact that she is a woman. I am sure that I speak for many in the military who are unable to speak out on this issue because of the stranglehold of political correctness that silences them. The Army’s inaction defies the military standard of the officer in charge taking the ultimate responsibility for the actions of those under his/her command. As commanding officer, it was up to Gen. Karpinski to establish a command climate that would enable her to know what was going on; pleading ignorance does not let her off the hook.

The horrors of Abu Ghraib happened on Gen. Karpinski’s watch — yet no one in the military, Congress or the press is calling for her court-martial or ouster. It’s rather ironic that the press is trying to blame the abuses at the prison on President Bush rather than on Gen. Karpinski, where it rightly belongs. Her leadership created a national disgrace and has dishonored those in the military who have served honorably and well. She has let down those in the trenches.

Women military leaders will never achieve the greatness of their male counterparts unless they are willing to accept the responsibility that goes with true leadership.

SUSAN SMITH MEA

Arlington

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