- The Washington Times - Friday, March 24, 2006

When evil threatens …

I have been appalled and puzzled for quite some time by our culture’s politically correct and timid stance regarding the clash of civilizations between the Islamist world and the Christian.

From story after story in your pages, most recently Wednesday’s Page One article about the Bush administration’s appeal to the Afghan government to spare the life of an Afghan man who converted to Christianity (“White House seeks mercy for Christian convert”) and in Tuesday’s marvelous Op-Ed column by Tulin Daloglu on Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s long-held, firm and unshakable Muslim beliefs (“Misreading the prime minister”), something is lacking.

Even Miss Daloglu seemed to despair, ending her column with, “Mr. Bush, a devoted Christian, is accused of waging a ‘war against Islam.’ The real war should be within Islam. But it takes time.”

Well, of course it will take time if everyone continues dancing around the issue and refusing to call a spade a spade. We, President Bush — everyone — must start calling out the evil that is present in radical Islam and declaring: “That is evil, and it must stop.”

Beheadings and killings of innocents are evil, and they must stop. Putting converts from Islam to death is evil, and it must stop. Preaching and advocating in Muslim schools and mosques for the killing of Jews and “infidels” is evil and must stop. The enslavement of women and deprivation of their human rights in Islamic culture are evil and must stop. And so on.

I’m one voice, and I’m shouting this out. I hope you and everyone else join in. Only by calling it out as evil and demanding change can we even begin to make that change. It must be done.

OLIN RAYMOND MIERS

Laurel, Md.

The Navy’s prayer rule

In response to Lt. Gordon James Klingenschmitt’s argument about his rights under the Constitution (“Navy rule on prayer ignites a debate,” Page 1, yesterday), I offer the rebuttal of the rights of the other sailors. They are protected by the First Amendment prohibition on Congress creating laws regarding the establishment of religion.

Congress opted to provide agents for spiritual support of its sailors under the powers articulated in Article I, Section 8. It allowed those agents to be provided by religious organizations. (There is a requirement for an ecclesiastical endorsement for members of the Chaplain Corps.) However, to finesse the First Amendment restrictions, Congress must apply limitations on those agents.

I would argue that if the lieutenant believes he is unable to practice his ministry under the restrictions imposed by being an agent of the government, he should resign his commission and go elsewhere to conduct his ministry in good conscience. He should not be allowed to make any sailor feel that he or she has sworn to defend a Constitution that is being enforced selectively to give the command chaplain a platform to proclaim his religion.

RICHARD BENNETT

Chesapeake, Va.

This is truly a world turned upside down. First we spend government money to hire religious leaders and establish religious services. Then we try to justify this perversion of the First Amendment’s establishment prohibition by making those same religious leaders, who have been recruited from numerous denominations, hold nondenominational services. Then those same religious leaders, who never should have been hired with taxpayer money, complain that they can’t freely express their faith.

The short answer is: Chaplains are free to exercise their First Amendment rights when the taxpayers aren’t footing the bill. So long as they are in the service of their country, they will follow the orders of their superior officers or be court-martialed. The long answer is: Let’s truly separate church from state by separating these chaplains from the military services and thereby stop the legally contorted and unseemly charade of engaging the government in the business of regulating religious content.

PAUL JONES

Okemos, Mich.

Latin American leftist leaders

Thank you for publishing a much more accurate assessment of emerging leadership in Latin America than is found in traditional reporting (“Latin America’s leftists redefine political labels,” Briefing/The Americas, Tuesday). America’s historic role gerrymandering Latin American politics has resulted in atrocities that cost the lives of millions from Guatemala to Chile (note: the Iran-Contra affair, in which the Reagan administration sold arms to Iran and provided covert support to Nicaraguan rebels to achieve foreign policy ends; covert U.S. support for former Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet; and secretly supported the 1976-83 “dirty war” purge of dissidents in Argentina).

This approach does not make us any safer or promote broad prosperity for people living in Latin America and the United States. The rise of responsible Latin American leadership from the left signals that people are tired of corruption, dictatorships and economic exploitation.

These leaders already have achieved substantial gains that support just societies and a safe hemisphere. Our interests are best protected by promoting these and other emerging signs of responsible leadership in Latin America.

NATHAN SPRINGER

Whittier, Calif.

Trials prove democracy works

Democracy not only is alive in America, but is a vital national export. I’m referring to the civilian — in lieu of military — trials of Zacarias Moussaoui in the U.S. and Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

I disagree with Eric Leskly in Friday’s Op-Ed column, “Terror trials and poor PR,” when he writes that “… instead of enhancing American national security, these botched [civilian] cases may have even strengthened our enemy.”

That’s just it: Because they appear to be “botched” cases, they are more emphatically presenting the resilience of democratic institutions. These cases are being showcased simultaneously in three courts: the court in Alexandria, the court in Baghdad and the court of world public opinion.

We are demonstrating that terrorists and mass murderers may be able, for example, to hijack a plane, but not a democracy. We can defeat terrorists on constitutional terms. We are speaking justice to terror and affirming the resilience of democracy.

Saddam “actually believes that he is the legitimate ruler of Iraq who could return to power if the U.S. were to leave.” In this, he is demonstrating — in open court — how delusional he is.

Let them act out. With every democratic trial we hold, we prove again how soundly our system works, and with every trial held outside the United States in traditionally authoritarian countries, it is demonstrated to the world that justice can be affirmed even in a nascent democratic context.

ONA BUNCE

Bethesda


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