Letters to the Editor
Readers write about unarmed civilian peacekeepers, liberalism, and kindness to physicists.
Thoughts on unarmed civilian peacekeepers
Regarding Rolf Carriere and Michael Nagler's March 27 Opinion piece, "Fight violence with nonviolence": The authors mention that there is a "prevailing prejudice that only governments or armed forces have the responsibility or means to contain conflict." They might have also mentioned that most governments encourage propaganda that glorifies war.
It seems clear that most people on earth are acculturated to the idea that war is right and necessary. Yet there is ample evidence in anthropological literature that the human species can choose between living peacefully (and having creative ways to deal with conflict) or living with war and all its waste of money, resources, and lives.
In response to Rolf Carriere and Michael Nagler's recent Opinion piece on unarmed peacekeepers: Unarmed peacekeepers may work in areas where the majority of the population wants peace, however, I question their effectiveness when only one side is launching attacks and those attacks are against unarmed civilians. If terrorists do not hesitate to kill their friends and neighbors, why would they not kill unarmed foreigners?
Liberalism lives on
In response to Walter Rodgers's March 18 Opinion piece, "Liberalism is gone – don't let tolerance pass with it": Mr. Rodgers sugarcoats his view that liberalism is dead by reminding readers that crucial economic and social safeguards created in the mid-20th century are an inheritance from this dead "relative," and by pleading for "tolerance" as the live essence of the otherwise dead body of liberalism.
But the idea that liberalism is dead is quite wrongheaded, despite the fashion of proclaiming the demise of enduring realities such as art or writing or (recently) Britain! Since the 18th century, liberalism in political thought has meant "favorable to changes and reforms tending in the direction of democracy."
While it is true that we have just endured a patch of political thought tending in the direction of oligarchy in the United States, it has by no means won the day. We have only to observe the turnout in the 2008 Democratic primaries to see that attitudes favorable to and tending toward democracy are resurgent. In political circles across the country where political pundits do not determine what is thought and said, we are proud to embrace both the lifesaving programs and the philosophy of mid-20th-century liberalism, although we are not afraid to change and reform our own ideas.
Fish Creek, Wis.
The need to accommodate inventors
Regarding the March 24 article, "$10 million quest for a practical 100-m.p.g. car": I reviewed the Automotive X Prize's 30-odd pages of rules in July 2007 and was astounded. They treat engineers and inventors as if they're just waiting to work for nothing for the benefit of mankind. There's a $5,000 entry fee. They want meticulous details and drawings in advance of an entry, which could constitute publication of patentable material, thus preventing patenting by the inventor.
If America wants creativity and innovation from its people, it must treat them with more respect.
Richard B. Britton
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