Muslim political candidates and inflated role of religion

Regarding your Nov. 7 article "More US Muslims run for office": It is a fact, since 9/11, that more attention is focused on Muslim Americans, but I believe that running for office should not be categorized with a religious reference. Does anyone refer to American Catholics, Mormons, Quakers, or Jews with their religion as a significant consideration when running for office?

It is our civic duty, if elected, to work on behalf of our constituents and community. If by doing so we can also bring attention to problems plaguing minorities, or influence understanding for them, so much the better.

The media are blowing the so-called Muslim-American issue out of proportion and thereby actually bringing more division and mistrust into the equation.
Shahla Samii
New York

Looks aren't everything - just a start

Regarding your Nov. 4 article "In Japan, never give a lady a sweaty candidate": Although the fact that Japanese politicians have started to appeal to women voters by looking tidy is positive, I was irritated by a comment made by a Democratic Party of Japan spokesman, who said that young women tend not to listen to what a candidate has to say. This sounds to me as if young Japanese women are too shallow and not smart enough to vote on the basis of policy discussions. As a young Japanese woman, I see this as another alert to how Japanese politicians are still looking down on women.

Politicians' appearance is not more important than what they say. If they want us to listen, why don't they talk to us with respectful manners and tidy haircuts and outfits?
Naoko Tsujimoto
Brooklyn, N.Y.

International infusion in higher ed

After reading your Nov. 5 editorial "What Campuses Are Missing," I was in disbelief. As a first-year student at the University of Chicago, I've been amazed by my international-student friends. Their degree of good humanity is striking, and they add much to my life here.

At the University of Chicago (and I hope at many other colleges in the US), students have impressive intellectual skills, and international students here not only are quite bright, but also add to the campus's diversity. I fully agree that being open to diversity is a strength for American higher education. Furthermore, international students are crucial for a research-driven college like mine.

The US should do nothing to further decrease the numbers of these important students. The mentioned $100 Homeland Security fee may seem like nothing when compared with the high tuition of many universities, but such a fee's unwelcoming meaning is quite strong.

Congress and the State Department should focus their attention on removing such negative foreign policy.
Ben Zimmerman

Drug plan misses the mark

Regarding your Nov. 7 article "Drug plan risks senior backlash": I hope Congress doesn't do us any "favors" by passing a version of the Medicare prescription-drug plans currently on the table. They miss the mark, and funnel dollars through seniors to insurance companies and drug manufacturers.

The solution is simple: The federal government should use its tremendous buying power to negotiate prescription-drug prices and bring costs down to levels affordable by most. It should provide subsidies to those who still can't afford drugs. Private insurance companies are part of the problem, not part of the solution. Adding a middleman can only increase costs.
Gini Worthen
Westbrook, Maine

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