Ideology and Power Combine in Bangladesh

As a feminist of Arab-Muslim origin I found that, apart from the strong condemnation of putting people to death for their ideals, the editorial ``Islamist Thought Police,'' July 21, was a bit simplistic and misleading.

Contrary to the assertions of the writer, the particulars of this case are revealing. These highlight both why Taslima Nasreen's life is at stake and what lessons to learn about the way ideology and power are connected. Since no Islamic society completely separates ``church'' (religion) and state, we need to know how religious injunctions are interpreted and applied in Bangladesh to regulate social and gender relations. We also need to know how religious beliefs are manipulated politically there, and why Ms. Nasreen may be a tragic scapegoat for vying political interests: She may well be a convenient trade-off, a writer to be sacrificed by the regime as a form of appeasement to hard-liners or to keep other challengers in check.

This is not to detract from the horror and outrage presented by her case. Indeed, defiant and outspoken women are often on the front line for defamation and abuse. It is necessary to point out, though, that thought police are neither intrinsic to nor limited to Islam, nor are women their sole victims.

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Our own democracy is replete with examples where thought control flourished, perhaps not dressed up in clerical garb but identifiable nonetheless by its confident and arrogant suppression of ``incorrect'' opinions - those that were at odds with the prevailing views of the time. S. Dajani, Yellow Springs, Ohio

Condemn, don't condone violence

The opinion-page article ``Man to Man: Stop Domestic Violence,'' July 18, really hit the point.

O. J. Simpson is innocent until proven guilty of murder. However, his family, friends, and the media never asked him, ``Did you throw anything or break anything? Did you push or shove your wife? Did you grab her, slap her, or hit her?''

The author's statement that ``children who witness domestic violence often turn out to be violent'' is true. For example, while my husband has been kicked out of the house for domestic violence, my son picked up where he left off, escalating the violence.

To my surprise, some family members and friends (mostly male) called and blamed me. They never asked if I was in any pain or how my broken hand was doing. Instead, I was told to lie about the incident and was accused of manufacturing the charges and being vindictive by taking my case to court.

Frankly, I got more respect and consideration from a mugger in Chicago than from my own family: He just took my purse. Paulette Hottelet, Northbridge, Mass.

Limbaugh cartoon justified

The letters ``Cartoon Unfairly Maligns Rush Limbaugh,'' July 22, expressed the opinion that Mr. Limbaugh reflected the ``... highest standards in character ...,'' that ``he does not preach hate,'' and that his point of view is ``refreshing.''

These letters should be balanced by some facts. On Limbaugh's radio show on Feb. 18, he mentioned the Time magazine cover showing a picture of the 5,000-year-old man found buried in glacier ice, stating, ``This is just what Sally Jesse Raphael looks like without makeup!''

Once on his television show he joked, ``Everyone knows the Clintons have a cat: Socks the White House cat. But did you know there is a White House dog?'' Then he showed a picture of a 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton to his millions of viewers.

Danziger's cartoon is fully justified by Limbaugh's totally unnecessary, cruel behavior. Hate is what he's selling. History is filled with infamous hate salesmen that caused great grief. Stanley Logue, San Diego

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