Letters to the Editor

Readers write about America's allies and enemies, and religious ideas in 'The Golden Compass.'

America turns allies into enemies

In response to your Dec. 6 editorial "Lebanon: Sellout to Syria?" At face value, engaging Syria might seem the better option for American diplomacy, but America should learn from its past mistakes.

America has instigated democracy lovers in Lebanon. Yet now that they have stood up, America seems willing to stand down. It's taking the easy way out by talking to weakened Syrian dictator Bashar Assad and rewarding him with a free hand in Lebanon to finish off the freedom fighters.

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Over the past 50 years, America has made for itself a long list of allies-turned-enemies by simply abandoning them. In Iran during the 1970s, America let down pro-democracy forces for its interests with Iran's dictator. Frustrated pro-democracy forces turned Islamist anti-American.

In 1991, Washington looked the other way as Saddam Hussein crushed two uprisings, one in northern Iraq and the other in the south, after Washington had encouraged these rebels to stand up for their rights. Those Iraqi Shiites today lead the way in hating America.

If talking to Syria was good, then why did so many attacks on American targets overseas and at home since 1990 happen, while the US ambassador was still in Damascus?

That Americans have grown impatient with the Iraq war is understandable. Yet forcing the administration to cut short its pro-democracy project in the Middle East will result in yet another war in the region in the future.

The Iraq war might have been a bad idea, but doing what is right by pressuring dictators and supporting democracies worldwide can never be wrong.

Hussain Abdul-Hussain
Washington

Values in 'The Golden Compass'

In response to Jenny Sawyer's Dec. 7 Opinion piece, "Is 'The Golden Compass' really anti-Christian?": I applaud this thoughtful piece. As Ms. Sawyer notes, Philip Pullman, who wrote the trilogy upon which the film is based, isn't out to attack religion, but tyranny – tyranny that can take many forms, including that of religious orthodoxy. This is a nuance that many have either failed to catch or willfully ignored.

The books and film also promote free thinking, a value that we humanists hold dear, as do many thoughtful religious people.

Mr. Pullman is a supporter of the British Humanist Association, and therefore, it's no surprise that his humanism informs his work – much as Christianity informed the work of C.S. Lewis, author of "The Chronicles of Narnia."

Only good can come of exposing readers and moviegoers to such a variety of ideas from authors of differing personal philosophies. We are only made richer by this interplay of thoughts and beliefs.

Moreover, the holidays are a perfect time for this, when the minds of Christians and non-Christians alike turn to values held most dear.

Roy Speckhardt
Washington

In response to Ms. Sawyer's Dec. 7 Opinion piece regarding the film, "The Golden Compass": The Pullman film has reportedly toned down the virulently anti-Catholic, anti-Christian tone of Mr. Pullman's books.

Of course, Pullman has the right to express his opinions, and filmmakers have the right to express theirs.

But as a Christian I reserve also the right to disapprove of the books and the film and to encourage fellow Christians not to give their money to such a writer or such a film.

Gerald gillespie
Meriden, Conn.

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 pieces to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115. E-mail letters to Letters and Opinion pieces to OpEd.

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