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.
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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
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."
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