Letters

Comparing Pol Pot's terror to today's war on terror

Alexander Hinton's Opinion piece on the lessons to be learned from the Cambodian tragedy ("Lessons from killing fields of Cambodia - 30 years on," April 14) was one of the best I've read in some time.

Mr. Hinton is to be commended on his insights and we should all be humbled by his challenge to become more aware of our sins of omission. We need to send clear signals to our government that we expect a higher standard of behavior in the war on terror than what we have received.
Frances Barrineau
Ashburn, Va.

What one glimpses in this dark moment in recent history is the way in which, so often, quite banal moral failings - unquestioning patriotism, moral zealotry, fear of what we do not understand - can lead to extraordinary evil.

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What is astonishing, reflecting on the case of Cambodia, is how deceptively easy it can be to set these sentiments in motion, and how difficult it can be to turn back the tide.

In these times of terror alerts and shadowy threats, let us be most vigilant about what might be lurking in the shadows within ourselves.
Andrew Blom
Chicago

I was dumbfounded that Rutgers professor Alexander Hinton used the 30th anniversary of the Cambodian genocide by the Khmer Rouge as an occasion to bash the US.

This otherwise well-written and informative piece could have been an excellent opportunity to point out why staying the course in Iraq is essential, or how the anti-war movement in the US led to the deaths of millions in Southeast Asia.

To even attempt a comparison between what happened at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo with what happened in Cambodia, however, rivals Ward Churchill's "little Eichmanns" statement comparing the victims of 9/11 to Adolf Eichmann, one of the architects of the Holocaust.

What we have from Hinton is just the latest example of outrageous ivory tower bias.
Steven Swinney
Three Rivers, Calif.

Paying back Social Security

Regarding Daniel Schorr's April 15 Opinion piece, "Social Security debate misses key point: kids," about children who receive a relative's social security benefits: I was one of the kids described in your commentary.

I'm now a 40-year-old scientist in biomedical research, in a sense paying back what society gave me - the opportunity to finish school with a roof over my head and food on the table after my father died when I was 7.
Catherine Bigger
Galloway, Ohio

Homeless worthy of comforts

The April 18 article "For L.A. homeless: a gym, movies, and hair salon" reminds us that the homeless are people, too. People who are homeless should be exposed to every resource that makes them feel good about themselves and keeps them connected to society in order for them to move up another step in their lives.

We must all be aware that homeless people are an eclectic group that includes the widowed, divorced, parents with children, the disabled, the elderly, war veterans, students, disaster victims, and taxpayers.

They are not subhuman. They are a part of our society.

In my community, dogs have their own gyms, public parks, swimming pools, daycare centers, restaurants, and will soon have recreational options available to them.

If pets are afforded a comfortable lifestyle on a permanent basis, why can't some of us understand the importance of providing comfort to some individuals on a temporary basis?
Pier Penic
Alexandria, Va.

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