Moderation, while well intended, will only get you so far

I have, in the past, admired my fellow Gig Harbor resident's well-reasoned essays pleading for rational dialogue among folk of different political persuasions, but I must take issue with Carla Seaquist's latest appeal (Sept. 9 column, "An activist for moderation").

She is oh-so-correct to observe that things have fallen apart in the US and the center no longer holds. Ms. Seaquist, it is far too late to try to mediate current American politics by positioning yourself at a center point. You cannot balance the far right with a phantom far left. Liberals, who have been shoved into the "far" periphery, are more likely shameless idealists, die-hard believers in an American society that can guarantee social justice for all.

Caring citizens must argue passionately, but they shouldn't be bullied into positions of false moderation. If liberals choose to argue moderately with neoconservatives, we will be sidelined and ignored - at the nation's peril. While moderates have talked until they are blue in the face, the Bush administration has acted. It has stripped the country of protections against polluters, corporate greed, and worker exploitation.

Social justice is the pressing issue and will require more than reasoned argument.
Lucinda Wingard
Gig Harbor, Wash.

Let's be clear on terrorists' goals

I'm disappointed in the Monitor's analysis of the most recent Al Qaeda tape ("New Al Qaeda tape hints at frustration," Sept. 12). The article attempts to go behind the overt message of the tape. However, the message on the tape should be emphasized, too, and it seems to me to be true: The leaders of the West have repeatedly failed to tell their citizens what it is Al Qaeda hates and what it advocates.

Consider President Bush's repeated assertion that what the terrorists hate is "freedom." This clearly is not what the terrorists themselves say. Why can't we just acknowledge that the terrorists are fighting for the removal of the West from "Muslim" lands, and the development of policies in the West and elsewhere that encourage Islam (as they interpret it) and Muslim peoples?

We can fight their methods - their terrorism - and even reject their goals, if we must, without misrepresenting their goals.
John T. Wilcox
Binghamton, N.Y.

Why pay so much for a broken system?

The Sept. 14 article, "To finish high school, teens start college," about motivating underachieving lower-income high school students by putting them in community college classes shows a good effort. I am concerned, however, that it illustrates the larger failure of the elementary and secondary systems. I hope it does not undermine the college system, which may have to pick up the slack and perform the services the earlier part of the educational process clearly did not perform.

It is not right that we pay for an education system that is not working.
Linda McClanahan
Hamilton, N.J.

Recycling down 50 percent since 1995

Regarding the Sept. 13 article "Where does your recycled bottle go?": Eighty percent of Americans may have access to curbside recycling programs, but Americans actually recycled less than 20 percent of their polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles in 2003, half the rate achieved in 1995.

According to the Container Recycling Institute, we litter or send to landfills 41 million soda bottles a day. Enacting bottle bills across the nation would help get those bottles - made from nonrenewable resources - back into new products.
Elizabeth Royte
Brooklyn, N.Y.

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