Your piece on the anthrax scare ("Anthrax impact: little harm, but a lot of fear," Oct. 17) was excellent. Since Sept. 11, the major media outlets have been running the scare of the day, and the anthrax "assault" has fueled the hype. It is time that the media stop using the scare to sell airtime and newspapers. I do not believe that most Americans are as terrified as the media would have us believe. If we quit hyping the terror and stop giving the perpetrators the advertising they crave, I believe the terror will go away. The key is vigilance, proper response, and no fear.
Robert Greene Richmond, Va.
Regarding your editorial "When the pen is the sword" (Oct. 12): We must ask whose side the pen is on. Headlines trumpeting our vulnerability to attack by chemical weapons provide encouragement to the Taliban, Osama bin Laden, and other nuts. If that information had been withheld from the press, would we have been assailed with anthrax spores? The press's behavior reminds me of a teenager blabbing family secrets in public, simply to bring attention to himself.
Elizabeth Reshower Pisgah Forest, N.C.
I was born an Egyptian Muslim, and I live in Egypt. I have no doubt that Osama bin Laden's TV appearance intensified the anti-West, pro-bin Laden sentiment in Islamic countries. When was the last time that a suspect for genocide was allowed to deliver his argument - and recruitment call - on TV?
Al Jazeera is a mediocre channel that, before Sept. 11, captured Arab viewership solely because other Arabic stations are under strict government control, and are boring. Al Jazeera received worldwide recognition after the attacks because it is the only station that the Taliban allows to operate from Afghanistan, and because it received Mr. bin Laden's videos. Its fame is due to being on good terms with terrorists.
If the West is serious about its war on terrorism, it should not offer figureheads a mouthpiece for terrorism. Freedom of speech has nothing to do with it. This is a war - not an election campaign.
Abdel-Aziz Ismail Cairo
I enjoyed "The rush to rewrite history" (Oct. 16). While I have no problem with good teaching about American history and civics, our ignorance about the world is appalling, and is promulgated by the absence of modern-world teaching from most curriculums. It is extremely sad that it took Sept. 11 to move world-affairs teaching onto our education agenda. While lessons about the modern world will not be easy to incorporate, failure to do so may prove that what we don't know will hurt us.
Andrew F. Smith New York
President, The American Forum for Global Education
A friend and I were discussing how to combat the hatred, ignorance, and fear that spawn ideologies such as Islamic fundamentalism. We were looking for a bridge between traditional Muslim life and Western ideals, and it struck us: We have law in common, a vibrant set of principles with both letter and spirit. In Islam, I understand this spirit to be Allah, codified by Muhammad; in the West, this spirit is self-government.
Why should there not be a Muslim world court, put together by the United Nations and Islamic scholars, to arbitrate cases under Islamic law, independent of any government?
With a system of power checks and balances, this could become one branch in a stable governance of the Middle East. It could be a bridge by which the best part of the West - not McDonald's or blue jeans, but freedom and principles - meets the religious and cultural richness of the Middle East.
Shea Michael Mullaney Somerville, Mass.
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