Thursday, March 30, 2006

CAIR defends itself

In his commentary (“Cancer in its midst”, Op-Ed, yesterday), M. Zuhdi Jasser states that he hopes and prays “for some counter-movement within my faith which will push back all this darkness” of terrorism, in apparent blissful ignorance of the fact that American Muslim groups have consistently and repeatedly condemned terrorism in all its forms.

It is particularly ironic that he believes this “counter-movement” will start with “what is most basic — the common truth that binds all religions: ‘Do unto others, as you would have them do onto you.’ The Golden Rule.”

Just the day before publication of Mr. Jasser’s commentary, the headline item on the Council on American-Islamic Relation’s daily e-mail, distributed throughout North America and the Muslim world, was headlined “The Golden Rule.” It offered several hadiths, or traditions of the prophet Muhammad, such as: “Whoever wishes to (enter Paradise) … should treat people as he wishes to be treated by them.”

Mr. Jasser also smears CAIR for “doing absolutely nothing about the most vile hate-speak and actions toward Jews and Christians in the Muslim world.”

Perhaps he missed CAIR’s: 1) condemnations of attacks on Christians in Yemen and Pakistan, 2) statements against suicide bombings in places such as Haifa and Jerusalem, 3) coordination of an Islamic religious ruling (fatwa) against terror and religious extremism, 4) distribution of public service announcements condemning terrorism, 5) online promotion of the “Not in the Name of Islam” petition drive, or 6) CAIR’s recent condemnation of a plan by an Iranian newspaper to solicit cartoons denying the Nazi Holocaust.

In that condemnation, CAIR said: “The Holocaust, like all other acts of genocide, represents one of the lowest moments in human history and should not be the subject of derogatory cartoons. One cannot demand responsible behavior from others while at the same time acting irresponsibly.”

Maybe he also missed CAIR’s proactive educational campaigns designed to offer peaceful alternatives to violent responses prompted by recent controversies over allegations of Quran desecration in Guantanamo and the publication of offensive cartoons by a Danish newspaper.

Mr. Jasser should visit and to educate himself about the reality of the American Muslim community’s true response to violent events.

Mr. Jasser should practice what he preaches. The Web site for his own group is long on talk and short on the kind of positive actions and initiatives taken by CAIR.


National communications director

Council on American-Islamic Relations


No place for foreign flags

I commend you for your stance on the U.S. flag (” ‘Room for but one flag,’ ” Editorial, yesterday). I am a Hispanic American who understands firsthand the emotional power that flags, music, religion and language have in our Hispanic culture. They also are important to me.

Having the chance to live and prosper in America is the best gift God ever could have given to me. I understand that this is possible because Americans of different backgrounds for generations have had common goals and have seen America as their country. There is no place for foreign flags in a demonstration that intends to show how badly immigrants supposedly want to be Americans.



‘Fat’ lawsuits work

Ronald Cass attacks “fat” lawsuits, apparently not realizing that most already have been successful (“Scales of litigation,” Commentary, yesterday).

According to press accounts, they’ve triggered major changes that help fight obesity, including when McDonald’s ended Super Sizes, increased information disclosures, and issued warnings; New York City banned sugary soft drinks in schools; and Kraft eliminated trans fat from Oreo cookies.

Mr. Cass forgets that “personal responsibility” requires corporate responsibility — e.g., clear disclosure of nutritional information, no misleading claims, and fairness in advertising to children — and that companies are being sued for failing to do just that, not just for contributing to the obesity of minors.


Professor of public interest law

George Washington University

Law School


Veterans’ rehiring rights

In response to your March 22 editorial “Rehire veterans,” I want to commend your call for doing everything possible to make employers aware of their obligations under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, known as USERRA, which protects the jobs and benefits of National Guard, Reserve and other uniformed personnel while they serve their country.

However, I also want to correct a couple of points that do not accurately reflect the proactive efforts of Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao or the improvements they have caused

Despite longer and more frequent tours of duty in the global war on terrorism than in the last comparable war, Desert Storm, the rate of USERRA complaints has declined more than 30 percent. We feel this is because of three factors:

• Passage in 1994 of a better law, USERRA, that consolidated existing laws and closed loopholes that surfaced earlier in Desert Storm, which was the first major test of the all-volunteer Total Force created in 1973.

• The proactive efforts of Mrs. Chao and the Pentagon to make employers and citizen-soldier employees aware of their rights and obligations under USERRA.

• The overwhelming support of employers once they are made aware of USERRA.

The department has found that lack of awareness of rights and responsibilities under USERRA is the single greatest cause of complaints. That is why shortly after September 11, Mrs. Chao directed that we proactively reach out to citizen-soldiers and their employers as much as possible. Since then, the Labor Department has:

• Produced and disseminated public service announcements.

• Briefed more than 320,000 service members and others.

• Addressed most major human-resource and employer organizations.

• Created a one-page USERRA poster for employers to display at their work sites.

• For the first time ever, published USERRA rules that better explain the law.

The bottom line is that the system is working better. That said, we will never be satisfied until all transitioning service members return to the jobs and benefits they would have had if they never had left.

During a global war, it is especially important that we ensure our citizen-soldiers’ economic security while they ensure our national security.


Assistant labor secretary for veterans’

employment and training


Losing touch on immigration

I just read Tony Blankley’s Wednesday Op-Ed column, “Mexican illegals vs. American voters.” Mr. Blankley says in the column, “So legislate on, you proud and foolish senators — and hasten your political demise.”

I hope American voters remember the politicians who vote so blatantly against their wishes and against their best interests.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have e-mailed several senators and representatives, reminding them that, short of massive voter fraud, illegal aliens and corporate lobbyists cannot re-elect them; only American citizens who are registered and vote can do that.

I think both major parties have lost touch with the majority of American voters. What we need in this country is the rise of a populist third party.

Hopefully, the few conservative newspapers, conservative blogs and Internet newsletters, and word of mouth, will fan the flames for change in Washington and will not let the politicians bury their nefarious activities in spin and the cover of night.


Prescott, Ariz.

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