Letters

Giving a voice to US Muslim community

Regarding Ahmed Nassef's April 21 Opinion piece "Listen to Muslim silent majority in US": Mr. Nassef's claim that American Islamic organizations are out of touch with the Muslim community would have more weight if he backed it up with evidence other than his own opinions and sweeping generalizations.

Since there is no elected representational body for Muslims in America, one can only use levels of community support to judge whether a particular group is in or out of touch. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), America's largest mainstream Islamic civil rights and advocacy group, is ready to be judged by that standard.

It has grown from one small Washington office to 26 regional offices and chapters across the US and Canada. At our national fundraiser, more than 1,200 attendees helped raise $1 million. Requests for new chapters, supported entirely by the local communities, come in faster than they can be processed. Out of touch? Hardly.

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Nassef also claims that CAIR and other Islamic groups are "far removed from the realities of American life." But CAIR reflects what our community demands: Encouragement of political empowerment, defense of civil liberties, and promotion of an accurate portrayal of Islam. CAIR works with and serves those who are diligent in practicing Islam as well as those whose attachment is tenuous at best. We have a multiethnic leadership and many chapters and offices are headed by women.

When we receive a call from a person fired from a job because of religious discrimination, we don't ask how often they pray or whether they are "liberal," "moderate," or "conservative." We just do the work necessary.
Nihad Awad
Washington
Executive Director, Council on American-Islamic Relations

Follow MacArthur's example for Iraq

Regarding your April 21 editorial "Parallel Universes in Iraq": I take umbrage at your comment that John Negroponte should try "not to be like the domineering Douglas MacArthur in occupied Japan."

John Negroponte will need all the self- assurance, foresight, and commitment to democracy he can muster if he's to be even half as brilliantly successful as Douglas MacArthur in occupied Japan. Except for his dubious handling of war-crimes trials, General MacArthur gave to the Japanese what they needed: authority and reform.

He never backed down from the precepts of democracy, and millions of Japanese have reaped the benefits. For example, MacArthur insisted on giving women equal rights despite cultural and societal taboos.

If being domineering means steadfastly promoting freedom, then Negroponte should take lessons from history and emulate Douglas MacArthur, not avoid his ghost.
Joe Pappalardo
Washington

Oft-missed factor in warming debate

I read with interest the April 22 article, "Earth Day's biggest challenge yet." One factor seldom mentioned as a contributor to global warming is the effect dark surfaces, such as asphalt paving and tar roofs, have on this environmental threat.

Vast stretches of asphalt and dark roofs create a heat sink that retains warmth from the sun. (Light-colored surfaces such as concrete paving and white-tile roofs reflect solar heat back into space and counteract this effect.)

Cities, therefore, are several degrees warmer than the surrounding green countryside. This tends to warm the atmosphere, contributing to global warming.
Robert Hook
Orlando, Fla.

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