Letters to the Editor

Readers write about needle and syringe exchange programs, Obama's handshake in Latin America, reverse-discrimation, and what US students learn about Islam.

Fund needle and syringe exchange programs

Regarding the April 21 article, "Obama drug policy encourages activists in developing world": This article incorrectly claims that "the Obama White House has approved federal funding of needle and syringe exchanges." If only.

Under current law, the secretary of Health and Human Services, who is yet to be confirmed by the Senate, can make a determination allowing for federal funding. President Obama's appointee, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, may reflect his long-standing support for federal funding and allow it.

There is also growing bipartisan support for the passage of HR 179, the Community AIDS and Hepatitis Prevention Act. It would permit the use of federal funds, without depending on the secretary. As the bill says, syringe exchanges are cost-effective and "are an effective public health intervention that reduces HIV transmission without increasing the use of illicit drugs."

Previously, while volunteering with a harm reduction program in Atlanta, I saw how they provide a valuable link to drug treatment programs and how "drug users who are referred to addiction treatment from syringe exchange programs are more likely to enter and remain in treatment," as HR 179 states.

Federal money would allow more injection drug users to protect their health and the health of their partners.

Lucio Verani
New York

Obama's Chávez handshake was a good move

In regard to the April 22 editorial, "Get a grip on Obama's handshake": I am so grateful some media outlets, like the Monitor, realize the significance of this handshake. It can only benefit our tainted image in Latin America, where I lived for four years.

Does anyone remember that after Hurricane Katrina, President Chávez immediately offered aid in the form of petroleum? The offer was rejected; yet no US petroleum companies stepped up to the plate.

Carolisa Morgan
San Diego, Calif.

"Reverse-discrimination" is a meaningless term

Regarding the April 22 article, "Reverse-discrimination case splits Supreme Court": I am amazed that the Monitor would use a phrase that is so incorrect.

There is no such thing as "reverse-discrimination."

Regardless of race, religion, or country of origin, there is just fair treatment or discrimination, period.

The US is a country of laws. As such, those laws should be fair and equal to all citizens of the United States of America.

This is a great opportunity for a lesson to be taught.

Sean Barbera
Sandy, Utah

US students should not learn about Islam in a biased way

In regard to the April 22 Opinion piece, "What are US students learning about Islam?": I am a relative newcomer to your publication, but thus far I have been impressed by the insightful information and thoughtful commentary it presents. Perhaps this is why I was so dismayed to read this opinion column, which displayed a dearth of vision and knowledge I would never have associated with The Christian Science Monitor.

I am chaplain of my college gospel choir and plan to serve my country by joining the foreign service upon graduation. I am a Christian and a patriot. I am also an Arabic language major. I have lived in a Muslim nation, and I plan to do so again. Given my background and experiences, I found author Gary Bauer's commentary sensationalist, uninformed, and steeped in hypocrisy.

The article claims that "textbooks are distorting key concepts and historical facts" about Islam. In fact, I found Mr. Bauer to be guilty of exactly that. Throughout the piece, a number of facts taken from these textbooks are listed with the implication that they are somehow false, though no evidence is given to the contrary. His goal is not to enlighten but to incite. If this is not a "distortion of facts," I'm not sure what is.

While I do not belittle the threat that fundamentalist Islam poses to free society, I believe that Bauer is missing the point. In assessing the "rightness" or "wrongness" of a movement, we would do much better to look to the man preaching its message than to the particular religious book he is quoting.

There are righteous, good-hearted people in both churches and mosques all around the globe, and equally widespread are those who achieve their ends by sowing fear and distrust. Bauer's view of Islam is simplistic and unrealistic, and speaks of a man unwilling to view the whole picture. Perhaps he fears the similarities he might see between his own inflammatory tactics and those of the groups he so rightly opposes.

Thomas A. Leddy-Cecere
Strafford, Vt.

I agree with Gary Bauer. We have had far too much of "political correctness," and too little truth. It is time the textbooks told the truth, the good and the bad, be it "them" or "us."

Sarah Murnen
Kalkaska, Mich.

The Monitor welcomes your letters. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must include your full name; your city, state, and country; and your telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear on our website, www.CSMonitor.com. E-mail letters to oped@csps.com. Or mail letters to Readers Write, 210 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115.

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