Letters to the Editor

Readers write about young US Muslims, suburbia's fortress mentality, creative ways to use tip jars, and the global-warming potential of anesthetic gases.

Most young US Muslims have no sympathy for violence

Regarding your May 31 editorial, "Young US Muslims: a threat?": Thanks for the nuanced commentary on the recent Pew Research Center's study, "Muslims in America." When I first skimmed the results, I cringed at several items that showed that 26 percent of young US Muslims believe suicide bombings can be justifiable to defend Islam. I cringed because, as a North American Muslim, it pains me to know that a significant portion of my community's youth believe in something I find repugnant, but I also cringed because I could practically hear the knee-jerk responses, and indeed, the right-wing media locked jaws on this 26 percent figure as another reason to view Muslim neighbors with suspicion.

And then your editorial nailed it: The number of young Muslims who in some degree support suicide bombing is cause for concern, and it highlights the need for American Muslims to get to work in finding an American-Muslim solution to the problem. The rest of the Pew study should show Americans that such a Muslim solution is an imminent possibility, one that all of us North Americans should nurture.

Michael Symons
Director of public relations, Az-Zahraa Islamic Centre / Shia Muslim Community of British Columbia
Vancouver, British Columbia

Thank you for your balanced editorial about young US Muslims. I have known and associated with numerous Muslim families over the past 10 years. This includes high school students who have helped our family with yard chores, and their families and friends in educational interfaith settings. Some of them were born and raised in Egypt, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and the Middle East.

None of them have expressed sympathy for violence. Contrariwise, they have expressed a desire for peace, tolerance, and freedom of worship. They love America for its democracy and capitalism. Many have become successful entrepreneurs.

Members of our Interfaith Council are working to support the building of the first New Hampshire mosque. Some of us recently attended a masjid fundraiser (masjid is Arabic for mosque) and heard New York City's Imam Siraj Wahhaj decry violence and express support for all places of worship – churches, synagogues, and mosques. The imam also expressed his sincere respect and appreciation for the Muslim women and families present.

In my 10 years of association with New Hampshire's Muslims, I have witnessed graceful and responsible individuals.

George Reed
Bow, N.H.

What fortress mentality means for kids

Melodee Martin Helms's June 1 Opinion piece, "Suburbia's fortress mentality," cut right to the dilemma I have about how and where to raise my 2-year-old. I grew up in the 1970s, too, and the freedom to roam that Ms. Helms discussed was a description of my childhood. Now I have to contend with the scary streets of San Francisco and wonder if my child will ever experience true unsupervised, unchaperoned freedom.

Whitney Blake
San Francisco

In her Opinion piece about the suburbs' fortress mentality, Melodee Martin Helms makes a compelling argument against oversheltering our kids and locking them up in a giant fortress at home, where they can't really have adventures. This has repercussions not only for their physical fitness, but also for their social health and well-being. I can only imagine that a child who has never had the opportunity to explore on his own or deal with strangers is more likely to have difficulty when finally confronted with a situation that requires him to act on his own.

I found it disappointing that Ms. Helms, after having acknowledged these problems, resigned herself to the "need" to keep children perpetually indoors. If more children were outdoors playing, it seems less likely that a child predator would be able to strike, with so many witnesses around. Rather than resigning ourselves to such a sad state of affairs, perhaps people ought to consider ways to get around the problem.

Dougal Graham
St. John's, Newfoundland

Gratitude expressed – in a tip jar

Regarding the June 1 article, "What's up with all those tip jars?": Please let the author know that this single mother of three has maintained a tip jar on the family kitchen counter for several years now. At one time it bore the suggestive note, "Let the staff know you appreciate them!" After a few months, the kids and I fish out the findings and go out for ice cream – except more and more my teenager uses family tips to pay for pizza delivery. Our tip jar has been a humorous reminder to express gratitude toward anyone who performs a service, even the domestic sort that's often taken for granted.

Lina Mendez
Columbus, Ohio

Anesthetic gases are greenhouse gases

Regarding your April 5 editorial, "Man the dikes for climate change": I am an anesthesiologist. It strikes me how some major things continue to go under the radar. Why doesn't anyone discuss the release of anesthetic gases? Each gas-based general anesthetic is released directly into the atmosphere. This adds up to tens of millions of releases in the US alone each year.

Anesthetic gases are basically chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and nitrous oxide. CFCs have thousands of times the heat-trapping potency of CO2, and nitrous oxide has about 300 times the heat-trapping potency. Such unregulated and unmonitored releases might make a farce of projections on the rate of warming and overall climate change.

Michael Rhodes
Carmel, Ind.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, www.csmonitor.com.

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