Letters to the Editor

Readers comment on deplaned imams' discrimination lawsuit and the resentment that compulsory education can foster in students.

In imams' lawsuit, freedom vs. fear

In response to the May 1 article, "In airline case, a clash of rights, prejudice, security": I feel that the imams' behavior was an orchestrated attempt to check the boundaries of airline security and willingness of the public to confront pushy Muslims. But thank goodness that other passengers displayed courage.

It seems naive to feel sorry for the imams. Before we do that, we should examine the teaching of these imams in their mosques. What if the message they were spreading was anti-American and promoted violence?

When reporting on a criminal act, journalists might try to find the previous record of the criminal. They should also try to do a background check when reporting on the controversial behavior of suspicious imams.

Also, it is important to mention that Congress has proposed the Protecting Americans Fighting Terrorism Act of 2007 to protect passengers from lawsuits for just reporting suspicious behavior.

Greg Gutkowski
Barrington, Ill.

Regarding the article about the imams' lawsuit: Reading the quote from M. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, gave me chills. The idea that "there may have been things said about them that weren't true, but that needs to be figured out afterward," exemplifies the incredible threat the war on terror poses to individual liberty in our nation.

Perhaps the pilot and passengers on the plane could have realized that these imams had just gone through the same several layers of airport security screening as every other passenger had. Perhaps they should have realized that just because someone looks and talks differently doesn't mean he or she is a danger.

Perhaps the pilot could have asked the disabled imam if he wanted to sit with his friends, instead of forcing them to try to change seats themselves. Perhaps the steward could have given the larger imam and his friend different seat belts without becoming suspicious. Or perhaps the pilot should have removed all Irish Catholic passengers who prayed with a rosary, said a Hail Mary, or talked too loudly with friends. What if they were IRA terrorists?

As John Zogby of the polling firm Zogby International stated, "We can't live in a world like that."

Patrick Goodman

Mandatory education can breed ire

Regarding Em Hunter's May 1 Opinion piece, "Making a difference amid a school's culture of cruelty": I did not grow up in an inner-city school and was nearly a straight-A student.

Yet I also experienced deep anger at school. It wasn't until I was about 40 that I met anyone who had loved school. Since then, I've met others, but it's still a very alien idea to me.

Many children do not want to be in school. I wonder if teachers such as Em Hunter have really considered the impact of that simple fact. While teenagers are entering a period of life in which they want to be more independent, society tells them that they have no choice about how to spend many of their waking hours.

As adults, consider how we would feel if somebody (or the government) informed us that we had to report to school for six hours a day for the next 12 years. I would be outraged and feel like a prisoner. And that's how I felt as an adolescent in school.

We have to consider the impact on children of drugs and violence, but I think the force involved in educating adolescents is overlooked.

Ellen Young
Milton, Vt.

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