Letters to the Editor

Readers write about the affect of Alexander the Great on the present-day Balkan states, why China must allow academic freedom, why the end of US evangelism could be a good thing, and the right of employers to prevent their workers from wearing the

Alexander the Great still affects present-day Balkans

In regard to the March 23 article, "2,300 years later, 'Alexander-mania' grips Macedonia": The looming battle between Macedonians and Greeks over the legacy of Alexander the Great is, in a word, silly.

Modern Macedonian Slavs are about as likely to be direct descendants of Alexander as Nazi Germans were of a “pure Aryan” progenitor. I use that analogy deliberately since the nationalist claim that Macedonians spawned the “white race” is uncomfortably reminiscent of the Nazis’ Aryan fantasies. Moreover, the tragic irony of this pseudo-historical nonsense is that all the Slavic peoples – including the South Slav – were regarded by the Nazis as “subhumans” and thus fit only for slavery or extermination.

Nor is the Greek position any more credible. Although the ancient Macedonians likely spoke a Greek dialect, they were considered rank inferiors by their Greek contemporaries. The Athenian orator Demosthenes spoke for many Greeks when he referred to Philip of Macedon, Alexander’s father, as “not only no Greek, nor related to the Greeks, but not even a barbarian….” For most of these Greeks, when Alexander succeeded Philip it was like father, like son. Only grudginglly, after the son’s astounding conquests, did they accept him as “one of us.” Success has a way of changing people’s perceptions.

In sum, those who use – or rather, misuse – history for their own narrow purposes nearly always distort it. In this case, the distortion might be funny were it not for its potential to reinforce the already chronic instability of the Balkans.

[Editor's note: The original version of this letter was shortened for the print edition. This is the full version.]

Eugene W. Miller, Jr.
Sybertsville, Pa.

History books tell us that Alexander the Great spoke Greek, not a Slavic language. Today, there is an attempt to change what our history books taught us. Alexander spread Hellenic culture, language, art, and customs, not Slavic culture, language, art, and customs. Even the coins used during the time of Alexander, and his father, Phillip of Macedon, were Greek.

As the old adage puts it, "If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, and acts like a duck, then it's a duck."

Stella L. Jatras
Camp Hill, Pa.

China must allow academic freedom

In regard to the March 23 article, "China targets an academic culture of cut-and-paste": I read this article with great interest. I have been teaching and advising in China's universities since the 1980s. While I agree with the issue as presented, the real problem is the general lack of academic freedom (as we know it) in Chinese higher education. Chinese universities will be well served to introduce Western canons of scholarship so that they may be able to compete internationally with the best in North America and in Europe.

Slowly but surely change is coming to China.

Louis C. Vaccarol
Las Vegas

Evangelism's end may be a good thing

Regarding the March 10 Opinion piece, "The coming evangelical collapse": Thank you for your willingness to print such an article. I think the reasons author Michael Spencer offers for the decline of evangelism are all in the ballpark; however, I disagree with his conclusions as to what will result from this. Perhaps more people will actually practice what Jesus preached. As George Bernard Shaw once said, "Christianity might be a good thing if anyone ever tried it."

Robert Bows
Boulder, Colo.

Employers can refuse to allow hijab

Regarding the March 20 article, "Hijab debate lifts veil on limits of Norway's tolerance": Wearing a hijab is an issue of religion. But individual conviction should not infringe on the right of an employer to establish a business model, which may include a uniform. If the woman in question cannot comply with the requirements of her employer, she should seek a job which makes an allowance for hijab.

Tammy Swofford

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. Mail letters to Readers Write and Opinion pieces to Opinion Page, 210 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. E-mail letters to Letters and Opinion pieces to OpEd.

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