The Decalogue debate
Thank you for your article, "Ten Commandment challenges spread" (Aug. 4). Each time we tear down a display of the Ten Commandments, we are sending a message that America no longer values the absolutes that were so strongly a part of our heritage - a reverence for God, respect for our neighbors, honesty, integrity, and purity. The Ten Commandments have been on display throughout our country and government buildings for more than 200 years. They are a part of our history and moral fiber. The types of values encouraged by the Ten Commandments serve to keep our country great and strong. I would encourage all those in this nation who have any decisionmaking power to let these symbols stand - as a reminder of our foundation and origin as a nation, and in remembrance of those who held those values in the greatest reverence, awe, and esteem; who fought, sacrificed, and died so that we might live and worship in freedom.
Every time the Ten Commandments are posted on public property, there is an erosion of respect for the Constitution. Every time a judge or law-enforcement official defends such posting, there is an erosion of respect for the legal system. These people know perfectly well that they are posting a religious document in a public place, a place that should be neutral on religion.
Big Bear Lake, Calif.
Regarding your Aug. 4 editorial "Terror and the Constitution": More than 6 billion inhabitants of the world are safer because the United States has nine individuals in custody. Hijackers, terrorists, and traitors don't play by the same rules as the rest of us, and a different rule book applies to them. I support constitutional rights (as well as civil rights and human rights) - but not for US citizens who are found colluding with the enemy or who plead guilty to terror charges or who conspired to commit an unconscionable crime on Sept. 11.
I commend your concern for erosion of the ancient right of habeas corpus, and the more recent right to an attorney. But I question why you fall short of advocating that this right be extended to all persons in US custody, regardless of citizenship or residence status. The American government has assumed the mantle of "defender of freedom" for all the world, and has asked many American citizens and citizens of other countries to pay the ultimate price so that the whole world can benefit from those freedoms.
To give meaning to that sacrifice, and to give meaning to the very freedom that America would like to see the world adopt, it would seem essential that the American government give all accused persons the right to face their accusers in a public forum before an unbiased tribunal, duly represented by competent counsel.
While the risk to national security will be there, that damage promises to be far less in the long run than the damage caused by undermining the very principles your country stands for. Surely America stands for freedom for all, not just freedom for Americans only.
Richmond Hill, Ontario
Regarding the Aug. 5 Opinion "Reclaiming the privilege of caring for the family": Bravo for Mary Beth McCauley's clear and happy acknowledgment that rearing a family is a privilege. Indeed, providing for my child's needs is the finest and most satisfying work I've ever known.
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