To convince US Muslims to serve, first address anti-Muslim actions
Regarding the Dec. 27 article, "Uncle Sam wants US Muslims to serve": As a retired Navy hospital corpsman and a Muslim who was born and raised in this country, I feel that if this administration is serious about recruiting more Muslims for the US military, it needs to do more than speak of building more Muslim prayer rooms.
It needs to deal with the increasing and increasingly accepted open hostility toward Muslims in this country. Some congressmen and senators (on both sides of the aisle) and some military commanders have openly displayed their disdain for Muslims in speeches, while several of the US media continue to demonize Muslims.
The current environment in this country seems to have placed all Muslims in the category of potential terrorist and has resulted in Muslims frequently facing verbal and physical assault.
US actions such as shutting down Muslim charities, rendition of Muslims back to their native countries, and the indefinite detention of Muslims on suspect charges, do not indicate that the US or its military has a genuine interest in recruiting Muslims for this country's armed forces.
Miami Lakes, Fla.
Regarding his Jan. 3 Opinion piece, "A test for US allies: How they treat women": It is hard to determine whether Matthew Mainen is talking about the Pakistan that actually exists or one he has conjured up. Even if the Musharraf regime in Pakistan treats women marginally better than the Wahhabi al-Saud regime in Saudi Arabia, in all other criteria Pakistan hardly demonstrates the values Mr. Mainen considers necessary to be a worthy ally in the "war on terror."
If the Taliban is one of the US's primary enemies, then Pakistan is not an ally. Not only did Pakistan play a role in educating the Taliban and other jihadists, the remnants of the Taliban continue to find shelter there. Finally, if a worthy US ally must be more or less democratic, then the repressive military dictatorship of Pervez Musharraf is either democratic or Pakistan isn't a worthy US ally.
Regarding the Dec. 14 article, "Robo-music gives musicians the jitters": Contrary to the claims of those who manufacture and sell virtual orchestra technology, its purpose can only be to replace live music. A musical produced in a theater built to accommodate a small musical ensemble would not be enhanced by the mechanically reproduced sounds of a 30-piece orchestra. And an amateur or student musical production is best served by musicians of equal ability. Combine this virtual-music technology with lip syncing and holography, and the humanity is completely sucked from live musical theater. Producers of musical theater and opera are betraying patrons of these art forms by substituting machinery in place of humanity. Heart and soul cannot be digitized.
Santa Ana, Calif.
The Dec. 29 article on Betsy Rogers, "When a Teacher of the Year takes on a failing school," was terrific. With all of the reporting on the bad news in education, this piece offered insights on one individual's dogged determination. The story brought to life Ms. Rogers's ability not to give up on America's school system, even in a challenging district. Congratulations to Rogers, and thank you for bringing this story to light.
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