Belief in inevitability of terror - realism or undue fear?

Congratulations for an excellent commentary on not giving in to the fear-mongering generated by Al Qaeda and its cohorts and propagated by our own leaders (Aug. 2 editorial, "Don't Do Al Qaeda's Work for It").

Al Qaeda has declared war on civilization and individual liberty. We are not going to defeat this hydra-headed monster by caving in to fear. We must do precisely the opposite - defy it. All citizens of the free world of whatever nationality or religion should join hands in telling members of this evil organization that we will not be cowed by them, that we will go about our daily business and not give tuppence for their threats.

We know that their agents are among us, preparing to divide us and sow terror. But we must refuse to be like them. We must love our neighbor irrespective of his race or creed, but at the same time be alert to the possibility that we could be the next potential victims of this despicable crowd. So let us look under seats, report suspicious baggage or persons, transmit relevant information to the authorities - all that - but refuse to stay at home or avoid transport systems out of fear of these terrorists.

Al Qaeda can kill or maim some of us, but it should not be allowed to destroy our spirit.
Prakash Swamy
Lyon, France

I am afraid I don't quite agree with your reasoning. "Not if, but when" is not acceptance of the inevitable, as your editorial implied. It is simply another state of affairs.

As the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh mentioned in his address to the US Congress, any country or region that aspires to democracy is an easy target for the evil designs of cowardly terrorists simply because of the innate freedom and openness of a true democracy. Does that mean we all shun our lifestyles? Definitely not. Should we be aware? Definitely yes.
Vasu Ganti
Los Altos, Calif.

Is suspicion of Muslims valid for now?

Regarding Fatina Abdrabboh's July 28 Opinion piece, "Truly Muslim, fully American": It isn't the fault of non-Muslim Americans when we look askance at her obvious identity, it's the fact that an overwhelming majority of terrorists are Muslims.

I look forward to a time when I won't pay any special attention to a Muslim, but it isn't in the forseeable future.

I suggest she start dressing like a traditional American while in public and get even more serious about condemning the Islamic terrorists by speaking out at mosques or Muslim organizations where they hide - or would that be too much to ask? Perhaps she is afraid for her life if she did, and if so, I understand her reticence.

Nevertheless, courage to name names and face the problem within is needed - not complaints about minor public dismissals.
Art Hyland
Astoria, Ore.

Profiling can obscure real threats

Regarding David Gelernter's Aug. 4 Opinion piece, "Good citizenship: Grin and bear the profiling": The practical problems with profiling are that it assumes the perpetrators will have certain characteristics and that these characteristics - which are, by necessity, quite simplistic and superficial - are reliable indicators.

What about Timothy McVeigh, responsible for the second-worst terrorist attack on America? Shall we start profiling all our Gulf War veterans? But the real problem with racial profiling is that it is, like all other racism, an instrument of hate. Police and politicians are as angry and frustrated as the rest of us and just as likely to persecute terrorist look-alikes as anyone.

Don't make profiling an excuse for finding and stopping the real threats.
Tom Darwin
Oceanside, Calif.

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