Shaky Ground for Supporting Crime Bill

Your editorial ``Senate: Pass Crime Bill,'' Aug. 23, recommends passage of the Crime Bill with its ban on 19 types of assault weapons. This leaves me to wonder if you are now indulging in a form of ``situation ethics.'' I fully agree with your objective to remove these weapons from the streets but wonder at what point you would be willing to disregard the plain English in the Bill of Rights.

In language intended to limit the powers of government, Article II clearly states: ``The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.'' Are you now advocating that this be disregarded because our present situation makes it uncomfortable? Do you feel that the other Articles, including prohibitions against limiting a free press, can also be ignored by the state when situations make it uncomfortable?

If you disregard the strength of the foundation, beware that you do not undermine the entire structure. Stand for the principles underlying man's freedom, even if the situation is difficult. Richard P. Radcliffe, Wheaton, Ill.

Don't forget the Japanese

Your editorial ``Remembering WW II,'' Aug. 25, needs some added observations. If a Smithsonian Institution exhibition features the B-29 that dropped the A-bomb over Hiroshima, it should also include a replica of the Japanese airplanes that dropped the bombs at Pearl Harbor. Neither the Pacific or European campaigns were ``wars of vengeance.'' They ended the would-be empires of the Nazis and Japanese, and gave us a world of freedom.

No one today approves of atomic warfare. Having been in the North African campaign, the invasion of Southern France, and crossing the Rhine into Germany gives me a certain perspective. Our battalion was scheduled to be sent for the invasion of Japan. We thought somewhat differently of the first use of the atomic bomb. Were the thousands of men who were helplessly destroyed on Utah beach any less precious than the Japanese (including women and children) in Hiroshima and Nagasaki? And would thousands of Americans killed in a Japanese invasion be preferable? The men in our outfit thought otherwise.

Not only the terrible loss of Jews in Europe should be commemorated but also the loss of millions of others there, and in the Pacific and Southeast Asia. Then the goal of ending all wars must continue. Gordon S. Hodge, W. Falmouth, Mass.

Taslima Nasreen's cause

I am writing in response to the article ``Taslima Nasreen's Campaign Endangers Other Reformers,'' Aug. 18. The author asks why Nasreen became a cause cbre in the West, and concludes that she ``faxed the Western media at the first hint of danger.''

This is untrue. Ms. Nasreen never faxed the Western media. She faxed human rights organizations, principally the Women Writers' Committee of International PEN, which I chair, and also Amnesty International.

The author is correct to say that other writers in Bangladesh have received death threats from time to time. But rather than wondering why these writers were not targeted in the same hysterical fashion as Nasreen, and why human rights organizations did not know as much about them, the author blames the victim, concluding she was a publicity hound who brought her problems on herself and harmed the women's movement.

The real reasons Nasreen became such a target are easy to find. She was persecuted more than other writers because she was more vulnerable. She is both an immensely popular writer and a woman from the provinces inciting other women to rebel. Nasreen took on many causes, and therefore had many forces against her: Islamists, patriots who view India as their enemy, and the Bangladeshi government, because she exposed the mistreatment of Hindus.

Women's human rights organizations within Bangladesh defended Nasreen as bravely as they defend women condemned by illegal religious courts in the countryside. They would think it very odd to see an American women, claiming to speak for the women's movement in Bangladesh, attacking her in a US newspaper. Meredith Tax, New York Chair, International PEN Women Writers' Committee

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