- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Arabic training for the Army

I’m pleased that the Army is training its officers in “foreign cultures, business practices, and languages, such as Arabic” (“Army officers getting immersion in Arabic,” Nation, Monday). This program should have been started several years ago, before we got bogged down in the Middle East without the resources we needed to prevail.

The bombing of our barracks in Lebanon and the attack on the USS Cole, as well as the attack on September 11, should have stimulated these efforts. What have we been waiting for?



A view of ‘an abortionist’s world

Self-confessed nonreligious, pro-life liberal reporter Nat Hentoff (“An abortionist’s world,” Op-Ed, Monday) discusses the number of abortions performed in America’s abortion capital, New York City. Mr. Hentoff describes a day in the life of an abortionist and the moral dilemma all abortionists and their patients face. He states, “As a reporter, I usually am able to understand why people with whom I disagree think and act the way they do; but I am at a loss to understand how an abortionist finds his daily vocation in deliberately, brutally ending a human life.”

Mr. Hentoff concludes by saying, “I would not have voted to confirm Samuel Alito, obviously, not because of his purported view of abortion, but because he strikes me as deferring far too much to presidential and everyday police powers in this indefinite war on terrorism. I opposed Justice Alito because I do not believe in aborting the Bill of Rights.”

So, there you have it, insight into a conflicted liberal mind that, unlike the vast majority of liberal minds, concludes that abortion is morally reprehensible. Mr. Hentoff favors ending abortion but won’t give an inch on civil liberties, not even in wartime. He would have preferred to have seen then-Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. defeated even though he believes Justice Alito would vote to end the abortion carnage.

In my opinion, Mr. Hentoff is conflicted concerning his own pro-life position. If he is pro-life, surely the life or death of a human being is more important than a temporary restriction of civil liberties in the interest of national security.


North Olmsted, Ohio

The cartoon backlash

Michelle Malkin’s observations about the furor in the Islamic world concerning depictions of the prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper show the real danger in offending Muslim sensibilities (“Harbinger in Denmark?” Commentary, Saturday). Though the editorial cartoons may have lacked taste, the larger question is whether Islamic hotheads will be allowed to control the discussion in the West regarding the role of that religion in non-Muslim societies, the imposition of its cultural values and, it must be said, support for terrorism around the world.

Last week in London, Muslim demonstrators shouted “U.K. You will pay. Bin Ladin’s on his way.” In the United States, reaction has been less militant but has followed a typical path. U.S. Muslims also want to seize the moral high ground by taking the victim role. For instance, reacting to the Danish newspaper’s actions, James Zogby of the Arab American Institute told the BBC last week that “it may have been legal, but was it smart?” As we know from history, it certainly was not smart to caricature Hitler in Nazi Germany, Stalin in Soviet Russia or Mao Zedong in Red China. As the late Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh would have discovered had he not been murdered by an Islamic extremist, it is not smart to say anything negative about Islam, anytime or anywhere.

Mrs. Malkin notes that President Bush, too, apparently was put on notice in a letter from the Council on American-Islamic Relations not to make references to Islam in his State of the Union message. As I recall, he used the word “Islam” once during the speech. For years, Christians and Jews have endured the most vile assaults on their beliefs by leftist artists and writers on the one hand and Islamic clerics and media on the other. These assaults continue, but no physical threats ever were uttered against the perpetrators. We in the West will have to decide if we are willing to stand up for our culture and principles or if we will be intimidated into silence.


Montgomery Village

Muslims react to a cartoon depicting the prophet Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban by rioting and blowing up things. It’s not the cartoonists who are defaming Islam.


Birmingham, Ala.

There is no justification for the rioting that has followed the publication of caricatures of the prophet Muhammad in European newspapers. It is understandable that Muslim groups around the world are upset over the cartoons, as I also get upset when I see our citizens on TV with guns pointed to their heads, pleading for their lives. I do not, however, storm the streets with weapons and seek Muslim citizens to kidnap because this would do nothing to ease my discomfort.

Rioting is an example of what happens when a group lacks the moral wisdom to come to terms with its surroundings, much as a child throws a tantrum because he lacks the knowledge to find a better solution to his angst. These militant groups are simply protesting against their self-imposed limitations.



Far from condemning the Danish cartoonists for their questionable depiction of the prophet Muhammad, Tulin Daloglu inadvertently and implicitly paints members of today’s global Muslim community as unruly, reactionary and belligerent (“No laughing matter,” Op-Ed, yesterday).

She seems to believe that to some degree, the newspapers should have known that the cartoons would create such “uproar.” In other words, it was to be expected that consulates would be destroyed and kidnappings would be threatened as thousands flocked to the streets with their torches, and sometimes guns, pointed toward Western establishments. If such behavior is, in fact, to be expected, the international perception of Islam is in serious need of revamping. This will not occur until disgruntled Muslims replace their torches with pens and find nonviolent ways to express their anger.

Miss Daloglu mentions that “since September 11, Muslims worldwide have found themselves having to fight stereotypes portraying Islam as the religion of violence.” However, it is foolish to think for a second that anyone believes the cartoons contributed more to this stereotype than the chaos perpetuated by misguided Muslims over the past week. Those who want to argue that it is unrealistic to believe such a violent reaction would not ensue only demonstrate their own lack of faith in the Muslim world’s ability to deal with conflict in a civilized manner.

If it follows that the attacks on European consulates in Muslim countries are a response to the cartoons, we must ask: To what are the cartoons a response? Obviously, cartoons depicting Muhammad wearing a bomb as a turban are a response to Islamic terrorism, whose masterminds have said on numerous occasions that jihad, or holy war, is a religious obligation. Thus, if Miss Daloglu wants to place some blame on the newspapers for instigating the uproar and contributing to poor stereotypes of Islam, wouldn’t it make more sense for her to begin by blaming the root cause?



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