China is right to distrust peasants
In regard to the May 12 Opinion piece, "In China, 'truthiness' trumps truth": I read author Anne Donohue's opinion piece with interest, as I had an opportunity to converse in depth with university students in China in 2008. During my time there, I experienced many of the feelings that Ms. Donohue describes, including disbelief, outrage, sorrow, and wonder.
Indeed, these students do not know what they do not know.
I would like to comment on a small point regarding one student's argument against democracy, namely, that illiterate peasants "couldn't understand how to vote." Donohue's dismissal countered that our nation's founders had "entrusted the whole American enterprise to illiterate farmers."
In truth, our founders were extremely concerned about whether or not to entrust the presidency to a popular vote. After lengthy debate, they surmised that the people could not be allowed to select a president for two basic reasons: 1) lack of education and experience, and 2) lack of information. Indeed, such an election was analogized by George Mason as "a trial of colors to a blind man."
The founders believed that the people would vote for candidates from their home states, ultimately leading to a selection made by the legislature, making it far too powerful.
This is why the Electoral College was born. The people would vote for electors, who were entrusted with educating themselves and voting for the proper candidate.
The Chinese student was wise to voice such an argument, for it is well-founded and a problem that our own fledgling democracy faced. The rest of this article was spot-on and a pleasure to read.
West Hollywood, Calif.
West must protect religious freedom
In regard to the May 7 Opinion piece, "Religious bullying is a problem around the world": In the religious quarter of Jerusalem, Mea Sharim, there are signs warning people about appropriate dress and behavior. People who venture there should expect a response if a head is uncovered, sleeves are short, Sabbath protocol is not respected, etc. We often see women visitors to Muslim countries covering their heads, so why should people entering this enclave not research protocol before entering?
The difference between one small corner representing ultrareligious Jews and proselytizing Christians or Muslim jihadists is vast. Not interested in making converts to Judaism, denizens of Mea Sharim only ask to be left alone to practice their beliefs. They do not impose them on others.
Those who believe that unsaved souls are in mortal danger and knock on doors, preach at those who did not invite them to do so, or kill in the name of their religion, are a different matter.
Today, much of the world is at risk because of a number of people "educated" since birth to hate and destroy "the other."
We must recognize this and act appropriately to safeguard freedoms we too often take for granted in the Western world.
How Christians make life choices
Regarding the May 12 Opinion piece, "Why Americans are devout and diverse but not divided": Author Stephen Bates writes: "Such a society can try to reclaim the faith by slaughtering the infidels, or it can make accommodations." With this statement, he reveals a rather profound misunderstanding of the main tenets of Christianity. For the vast majority of followers, Christian belief is viewed as a voluntary response to God's invitation. Neither "slaying infidels" nor the concept of "accommodations" even vaguely approximates the life choices as understood by Christians.
The fundamental source of tolerance in Christianity is their view that God in His love is the initiator of the relationship, and that God does not force people to love Him against their will. The concepts of forced conversion or accommodation do not conform in any way to the ideology or example of the primary Christian exemplar, Jesus. Historical aberrations from this stance are viewed as political corruptions of Christianity unsupported by any common interpretation of the New Testament.
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