I thoroughly enjoyed Gerard DeGroot's Sept. 27 Opinion piece "Batman vs. the Beefeaters," about British security needing tightening. I only wish someone had written that for our consumption before we became a nation under siege by our own security precautions.
I live in New York and was witness to the tragic attacks on the World Trade Center. However, I feel the same way about security here in our "locked down" Manhattan. It wouldn't be too difficult to do some serious damage without too much trouble, and the illusion of safety in our nation isn't fooling me the way it fools some.
I believe that in order to protect our nation we must use our brains instead of just our brawn and I haven't yet heard our president, Congress, or even, surprisingly, the 9/11 commission address the real reasons these attacks are happening.
Hollow excuses such as, "They just hate our freedoms!" are just sound bites we pack into our fast-food rhetoric. It's not going to make us any safer, and it certainly isn't going to help produce useful dialogue with our once-close allies and our now numerous enemies. To get to the heart of the matter, one must address the heart, the strongest muscle of all.
Regarding Daniel Yankelovich's Sept. 20 Opinion piece, "To defeat Al Qaeda, US must build trust of moderate Muslims": The US has been trying to help negotiate peace between Israel and the Arab countries for decades. The only justice the perpetrators of Sept. 11, 2001, are interested in is the end of US influence in the Middle East, and the replacement of governments leaning toward Western ideas with radical Islamic dictatorships.
The terrorists must be defeated, regardless of whether there is some kernel of truth to their complaints about the US. No amount of appeasement or negotiating will change this simple fact.
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Regarding the Sept. 21 article, "Muslim scholar barred from US preaches tolerance": Today's world is a dangerous place not because we have tyrants or fanatics, but because there is ignorance among all of us, regardless of our race, color, or creed. To deny scholar Tariq Ramadan the right to speak at Notre Dame is breeding more ignorance in America and playing into the hands of the extreme Christian right.
If we truly are a civilized nation, then we must practice objectivity - after all, that's what breeds liberty, justice, and freedom.
Regarding the Sept. 23 article "Does US law mute voices of churches?": 501(c)3 status notwithstanding, the real issue is the clear separation of church and state. Such separation does not proscribe free speech; it assures it along with our right to worship when, how, and whom we please.
The essence of the concern is freedom. For it to be fully preserved we must not let the state dictate our faith and we must not let our faith dictate our politics.
The confusion occurs when we mistake the application of our religious beliefs in making our political decisions with the encroachment of one upon the other. We need the strengths of our faiths to guide the course of our nation. We need the freedom assured by our Constitution to allow us to follow and express our individual faiths. This is a most beautiful, prophetic concept that serves us well. To change it in any fashion will clearly confound both freedoms.
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