Hope more vital than reparations

Your article on reparations ("Former colonies calling for reparations," Sept. 5) made me wonder how far back wrongs should be turned into claims for compensation. While understanding history is important, so is understanding the need for closure and the imperative to move on.I believe underdeveloped societiesthat focus on past wrongs rather than building on hopes for the futurewill face endless strife.

I have witnessed hatred in Ireland, soul-destroying rage in the Middle East, and the torment of people killing each other over the length of their noses. Societies must let go of past injustice and grow beyond the hatred they breed. Otherwise, true progress will never take place.

Mike Williams Ottawa, Canada

Losing a Muslim superstar

I want to commend your wonderful portrayal of Hakeem Olajuwon's influence on Houston-area Muslims ("Houston Muslims lose a leader, on and off the court," Sept. 6). Mr. Olajuwon has been an example for all American Muslims. In an era when most media portrayal of Islam is negative, it is refreshing to see a positive image of American Islam. Olajuwon represents the "old school" sports superstar, one who doesn't need a shoe or sugary drink named after him - he's just a man who loves to play the game.

Arsalan Iftikhar St. Louis

US occupation was amicable

In your Aug. 23 book review "One Man's Justice" ("Crime and punishment"), you describe Akira Yoshimura's portrayal of "the victorious US and their senselessly violent post-war treatment of the occupied inhabitants." I was a sergeant on a troop-transport vessel carrying the 161st infantry of the 25th Division from combat on Luzon to duty as occupying personnel in Japan. Going ashore at Wakayama, Nagoya, and Koromo, I saw no animosity or fright in residents, nor did I hear of any violent treatment of inhabitants.

The book review left the impression that our troops behaved poorly. It would be regrettable if those words were accepted as true by readers too young to remember that our troops did not behave with senseless violence toward citizens of defeated nations.

David B. Hurlbut

Mercer Island, Wash.

US must manifest new destiny

Pat Holt cites "Manifest Destiny" as being developed to "rationalize" the Mexican War ("Of Course We're Imperialists," Sept. 6, opinion page). John L. O'Sullivan actually coined the term in 1845, before the war began but just after the annexation of Texas. So one could also argue that the war was a rationalization of Manifest Destiny.

But debating whether the US should be an "imperialist power" is not useful. The US has global obligations, no matter how intellectuals characterize them. The question is whether the US will preserve, or even enhance, its power; disguise it; or transform it into authority that allows for withdrawal from responsibility - especially military responsibility - for solving international problems. America should help govern the world so that the world can better govern itself.

But that will only work with stronger, more flexible international institutions. Otherwise, the United States may find itself saddled with few trappings of the new Rome, and with most of the old Rome's burdens.

Kenneth Weisbrode Boston

Radicals deserve a closer look

I was disappointed with your article on radicalism ("Radicalism reborn," Aug. 30) - and with a picture that represents today's radicals with someone clothed in black, burning something. This does not represent most radicals. I know because I have been in Quebec City, where most demonstrators did not throw rocks or burn things. You do a disservice to the movement by parroting other papers' terminology, using the word "antiglobalization" to describe protesters who would say they are for global justice - not "anti" something.

Zachary Novak Rush, N.Y.

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