In want of an Arab voice taking responsibility

In regard to "Lifting the veil on women's subjugation" (Nov. 28): Someday I would like to read an article about the Middle East Arab sheik or government who vociferously disdains the Taliban's treatment of women and children in Afghanistan, who endorses the lifting of the veil, the establishment of equality of women, and the education of Afghanistan's children. So far, I have not heard this voice. What I would like is a simple recognition that Islamic fundamentalism is too extreme and needs to be modernized.

I would also like to see some wealthy Middle East Arab or government agree to financially support the repair and modernization of Afghanistan, since it was, at least in part, their money that helped prop up the Taliban, and their terrorists who helped push Afghanistan into the Dark Ages. At least the British and Russians have recognized their contribution to the problem and are trying to rectify the situation with aid and military support - better than anything the Arabs have offered.

Greg Farrand San Diego

Ramadan's meaning moves hard hats

This paratrooper-combat veteran of Vietnam could feel the cracks developing in my armor, and then feel the protective plating shatter and clatter to the ground. Susan Abulhawa's "My Return To Ramadan" (Nov. 28, Opinion) forced my tears to flow. The only way to avoid being razzed by the hard hats around me at break time was to pass the newspaper. It's really rare to see a boisterous crew sit in stunned silence.

Bill Perry Levittown, Pa.

Dissent is patriotism

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, much is being said about the relationship between patriotism and dissent. Failure to criticize government policy when it is warranted serves our country poorly. In his 1966 book, 'The Arrogance of Power,' the late Arkansas Sen. J. William Fulbright wrote, "In a democracy dissent is an act of faith.... To criticize one's country is to do it a service.... Criticism, in short, is more than a right; it is an act of patriotism - a higher form of patriotism, I believe, than the familiar rituals and national adulation.... My question is whether America can overcome the fatal arrogance of power." Even though Mr. Fulbright wrote his book during Vietnam, his comments on patriotism and dissent apply today as well as tomorrow.

Paul L. Whiteley Sr. Louisville, Ky.

Great review of book on Al Qaeda

Congratulations to Char Simons for a her clearheaded review, "America's most wanted" (Nov. 21, Books) of Peter Bergen's book "Holy War, Inc." At a time when most Americans are just beginning to learn about Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda organization, it is important to separate the wheat from the chaff. Referring to Bergen's book as a "political snack" hits the mark. Still reeling from the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, Americans need to hear from real experts if they are to begin to understand what hit them. Simons has done a public service in telling us to look further for the insights we need.

Eric Watkins Nicosia, Cyprus

Freedom to choose morality

The real meaning of jihad refers to the battle for spiritual wakefulness - the struggle for dominion over materialistic desires - and this moral battlefield lies within each of us. The temptations and moral challenges of the world provide the necessary test for all to perfect our shield of impersonal and unconditional love. If the world is to find a lasting way through this impasse, we must all begin to look to the areas where freedom of choice and moral rectitude overlap.

David Arzouman Tokyo

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