Religion is not inherently violent - or peaceful

In response to Alexander Kronemer's Dec. 9 Opinion piece "Understanding Muhammad": Since Sept. 11, Muslims across the world have been pained by caricatures of Islam and its prophet in the Western media.

Most commentators pontificating on Islam have the excuse of ignorance - historical and religious - but those who do not, scholars such as Bernard Lewis and Samuel Huntington, have distorted Islamic history for polemical gains. They have reasoned illogically from effect to cause, using current events and selective history to stigmatize a whole religion as intrinsically violent.

In this milieu, where Muslims have lost any hope of a just portrayal of Islam, I thank you for publishing Mr. Kronemer's message: "No religion is inherently violent, or for that matter, inherently peaceful. [Violent] organizations, not the religions they claim to represent, are the enemy."

Most pundits passing excathedra judgments forget a fundamental fact: There is no monolithic Islam. There are only Muslims; no more or less human, no more or less fallible, no more or less liable for their deeds than any other humans on earth. Acts of a few individuals, no matter how reprehensible, must not be used to vilify a religion.
Khurram Dastgir-Khan
Gujranwala, Pakistan

Alexander Kronemer makes some interesting points about the role of religion in politics, but I take a more simplistic approach: If all the world's religions got their governments to disarm, which would use their prophet's teachings to attempt domination?

The answer is probably found by looking at the countries whose governments retain power at the pleasure of religious leaders.
Fred Stoner
Hershey, Penn.

War has become an oily business

Kudos for your Dec. 5 article "Fueling war," linking the root causes of so many conflicts in developing and developed nations to resource tensions. Dependence on fossil fuels creates a globally destabilizing force.

Few doubt that the Iraq conflict would be taking place if that country were not sitting on oil reserves. The US and other nations must move away from an oil-dependent economy. I call for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Iraq, proceeding according to the UN resolutions. Long-term stability depends on the US reducing its oil dependence. It's not enough for Americans to talk about it. We each have a responsibility to take real steps in our communities, workplaces, and personal lives.
Jennifer Ferenstein
Missoula, Mont.
President, Sierra Club

When profit reigns, creativity wanes

In response to your Dec. 9 article "That new hit single might hide a jingle" (Work & Money): The flippant comment by creative director Tim Brunelle about the "prima donna" behavior of artists who don't want their material compromised for the sake of corporate profit makes me wonder why he bothers hiring artists if he thinks he can do a better job creating material than they can.

Most of the music being created today doesn't hold a candle to the popular music of virtually every era of American history preceding this one. One of the major reasons for this is probably the fact that so few executives are willing to risk any of their profits for the sake of nurturing true talent.
David Harris
Safat, Kuwait
Kuwait University

Correction: A Dec. 9 editorial, "Paving NAFTA's Highway," gave the wrong figure for the total economy of the three NAFTA nations. The correct figure is $11.3 trillion, in 2001.

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