Letters to the Editor

Readers write about ideas on US-Middle East relations, the US's choice to enter the Iraq war, female bikers, the elimination of lead-based toys, and progress in Rwanda.

'Why do they hate us?' Why are we still asking?

Regarding Mohamed Elmenshawy's Sept. 11 Opinion piece, "What do Arabs really think of America? Ask them," on "why do Arabs hate us," the piece disputes the usefulness of the question and says it should be addressed to different people. I agree, but for different reasons.

First, it isn't just the Arabs, but with much of the Muslim world (which overlaps the Arab population) that conceives America's "war on terror" as a war against them, as a "war on Islam." How would Americans react to a "war on Christianity?"

Second, the piece is a little on the theoretical side. Almost every leading Arab spokesman has, at one time or another, told us that the key issue is United States support of Israel in its oppression of the Palestinians.

Anyone familiar with the Middle East understands that this is the core issue, even our Saudi allies, even Osama bin Laden, even a whole string of US foreign- policy advisers who have been marginalized for decades.

Miriam Reik
New York

The US was not 'forced' into the war

In response to your Sept. 11 editorial, "U.S. still at sixes and sevens over 9/11," anyone who claims that "Unfortunately, the US was forced into this war on Al Qaeda," has been drinking the Bush administration's Kool-Aid. We were forced to take action against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. The president chose to go to war in Iraq. Members of Congress betrayed their oaths and failed in their responsibilities when they authorized him to do so.

[Editor’s note: The original version misstated the writer’s view on the war on Afghanistan.]

Barbara Briggs
Newmarket, N.H.

Female biker: normal and rides solo

In response to the Sept. 10 article, "Harley guns for the female motorcycle market," this article was offensive to me, not only as a motorcycle rider, but as a woman. Could there have been a better group of stereotypical girly girls in a casting call? Find a man to pick their bikes up? What?

If the intent of the article was to help Harley-Davidson drum up sales in the female market, it failed. The article also failed in trying to make women who do choose to ride a motorcycle appear normal.

If my choices are between being a loose, tattooed drug abuser or a girl who needs a man to lift the bike when it drops, well, find me a tattoo parlor.

By way of full disclosure: I am a 38-year-old woman, a research scientist in the biotech field, and I ride a 1985 Honda Magna 500-cc, which I can pick up off the ground by myself, even without engine guards. And I do have tattoos.

christa lajoie
Worcester, Mass.

Kids love classic toys, too

Regarding the Aug. 16 article, "Chinese toy recalls show need for stringent quality control," wouldn't American children be better off without any lead-coated toys from China?

When my grandchildren visit, I bring out two chests filled with wooden blocks of all shapes, wooden toy cars, airplanes, trucks, and trains, and stick figures that I bought at the local farmers' market. I also have a big box of sturdy cardboard blocks that used to be in my mother's hall closet for my children when they visited her years ago. These toys lead to hours of fun creating elaborate castles, garages, forts, houses, and, on one occasion, even the Great Wall of China.

No lead paint and no batteries are needed, and there is no possibility of losing or swallowing small attachments! I suggest parents return to providing lead-free, durable toys that encourage creativity and imagination. Sarah Epstein
Washington

There is finally progress in Rwanda

Regarding Jeffrey Lewis and Karin Miller-Lewis's Sept. 10 Opinion piece, "Rwanda's advice for budding democracies: dialogue clubs," as I read, my heart began to race and my eyes filled with tears. Finally, an approach to peacemaking that is rational, compassionate, tolerant, forgiving, and, perhaps, even enduring. All the politicians in the world, after spending trillions of dollars, engaging in decades of rhetoric, and justifying the loss of thousands of lives, have not been able to accomplish what is beginning to take hold in Rwanda. Why is it that people who have the capacity to make war seem not to have the capacity to make peace?

Teresa Werth
Spencerport, N.Y.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, www.csmonitor.com.

Mail letters to Readers Write and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to (617) 450-2317, or e-mail to OpEd.

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