America has good traits, but 'Borat' rightly showed its bad ones

Regarding Hunter Weeks and Josh Caldwell's Nov. 21 Opinion piece, "The America 'Borat' didn't show": While I'm interested in seeing the portrayal of America in their film "10 MPH," I find it hard to swallow the claim of Messrs. Weeks and Caldwell that they are reminding us of what America "really is."

Yes, America and Americans are a lot of great things – welcoming, hospitable, generous, down to earth, genial.

But they are also those shadowy things that "Borat" brought to light: bigoted, homophobic, misogynistic, vulgar, anti-intellectual, and insular.

I wonder if all those people Hunter and Josh met on their journey would have been so welcoming had the two been Mexican guys named Javier and José in a beat-up Ford, instead of white guys on cool, shiny Segways? That reaction would have been a better indicator of reminding us of what America really is.
Sami Hussain
San Francisco

Opposing reasons for gratitude

John Hughes's Nov. 22 Opinion column, "Ten things to be thankful for this time of year," is an unrealistic assessment of our children's future well-being. Mr. Hughes states that we should be grateful for "A strong American economy that has survived ... a war in Iraq." But the Iraq war is far from over, and we are accumulating enormous debts from it. The subheadline of the Nov. 21 article, "Rising price of the war on terror," stated: "With the Iraq war and clashes in Afghanistan grinding on, the cost to the US budget is $500 billion and still mounting."

Hughes states that we should be grateful that the US is tackling the energy crisis. But according to the Nov. 20 article, "Climate change hits hard in the Australian outback," Germanwatch, a German environmental group, rates the US 53rd of 56 major CO2-emitter nations for its lack of willingness to deal with climate change.

If the US is really going to tackle the energy crisis, we need to put substantial dollars behind this effort. As the top contributor to greenhouse gasses, the US needs to implement sustainable energy solutions immediately. Why not spend our tax dollars on building a sophisticated national rail system for public transit?

I am grateful that in the United States we have freedom of speech and that more and more people are speaking out for the future of this country.
Jo Thompson
Tucson, Ariz.

Muslim women, a force for change

I just finished reading – with great delight – the Nov. 21 article, "A bid to bring the female voice to Islamic law." How good it is to know that intelligent Muslim women are gathering peacefully to be sure their voices are heard in Muslim discussion.

Like many women in other cultures, they realize that, often, the teachings of great religious leaders have been interpreted, consciously or not, to keep the power structures of centuries in place.

As other women who have fought for equality and a say in their own destinies, these Muslim women will undoubtedly face ridicule and threats, emotional and physical.

But, like other women before them, they will persevere, and others will come to join and support them. It may take years or centuries, but these brave women – and their descendants – will make a difference in their worlds.

What a fabulous Thanksgiving story. You go, ladies!
Sue Boulais
Orlando, Fla.

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