At the root of terrorism: discontent, not poverty

Regarding the Nov. 18 Opinion piece "Reduce poverty - get a safer world": While I agree there is an alarming chasm between the resources consumed by the West versus in the developing world, it is false to blame the rise of terrorism on poverty. Indeed, many of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were from middle class, educated families. They were not starving paupers.

Terrorism is a weapon to achieve political goals, and disaffected individuals who join groups advocating the use of terrorism increasingly are educated young men who are disillusioned with their own regimes. They see violence as the only means by which they can engender change.

Until we recognize that terrorism stems from political concerns, our policies will focus on the wrong solution.
Allen Edwards
Falls Church, Va.

GOP: take morality mandate to heart

The Nov. 19 article "GOP's bolder reign on Hill," coupled with the report that the GOP leadership has changed its rules to allow criminally indicted members of Congress to hold leadership positions, made me wonder what role "morality" will have in shaping policy over the next four years.

Presumably, the conservative Christian base that elected the president and strengthened the Republican majority in Congress gets its cues on morality from Jesus.

It is pretty clear that our politicians have not always lived up to these principles (which, by the way, are not uniquely Chris tian) - and this includes members on both sides of the aisle. I sincerely hope our newly elected leaders comport themselves with dignity. Even more important, the electorate must now hold these leaders accountable for their decisions - for their morality. Perhaps the first step is to write, call, or e-mail your member of Congress to say it is not morally right that a criminally indicted official be allowed to hold a leadership position.

The US could be (and has been in the past) a "light on the hill" for the rest of the world, but we have to earn it continually.
Maya Dietz

With less Moore, Kerry may have won

I'd like to expand on Dante Chinni's Nov. 16 Opinion piece "Democrats contemplate the brutal whys of defeat." The election results were close enough that a change in any one of several factors could have altered the outcome of the election. One not mentioned in the article was Michael Moore's movie.

The "blue" viewers were inclined to find "Fahrenheit 9/11" amusing. Most of the "reds" did not view the movie, but saw many of the outtakes, which were perceived as mean-spirited, crude, and distorting. This negative backlash helped get a higher percentage of Bush voters to the polls.

There was plenty of material to make a documentary of Bush's failings, but this tasteless quasi-documentary helped save the president, just as Bill Clinton was saved by sympathy in the wake of prosecutor Ken Starr's overzealous attacks.

Moore and Starr had legitimate material, but because they went over the top, their causes backfired.
Paul Kane
Norwood, Mass.

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