Letters to the editor

Readers write in about the new war crimes ambassador, the rich heritage of Muslims, and the old bible tradition of gleaning.

Tough job for point man

Regarding Robert Marquand's Oct. 25 article, "US point man on global justice": Unhappily, the United States is busy on other fronts seeking to prevent the enforcement of international law. The new war crimes ambassador Stephen Rapp has his work cut out for him.

Within the US, we are wrestling with the problem of investigating and punishing high Bush administration officials for crimes such as torture, a strong case being made even by Democrats for nonprosecution of "good guys." Ambassador Susan Rice's efforts to prevent prosecution of America's ally Israel for war crimes is cut from the same cloth.

Shall the US provide immunity to favored persons accused of deliberate and blatant war crimes and thus invite its own and Israel's warriors and secret services to act with impunity? Or shall the US submit itself (and Israel) to the rule of law and to the jurisdiction of qualified courts?

Peter Belmont

New York

Muslims have rich heritage

In regard to Walter Rodgers's Nov. 1 column, "There's a reason France is one of the best places to live": As a naturalized US citizen of Christian Arab background, I take issue with the statement that "The French victory in Tours blocked the spread of a militant Arab-Islamic culture, allowing Europe to develop its own rich civilization."

To describe the Moorish armies as militant Islamists is to draw on the same stereotype utilized today to denigrate the Arab and Islamic worlds. While the French and their European counterparts were living in darkness, Arab-Islamic civilization was producing treatises on astronomy, alchemy, history, horticulture, ethnographic commentaries, cartography, medicine, scientific discoveries, and philosophical expositions that eventually became a major cornerstone upon which the Renaissance was to be founded. Their libraries brimmed with rich manuscripts. If anything, an Arab invasion of France in the 8th century might have speeded the Renaissance in France by some 700 years.

Raouf J. Halaby

Professor of English and art Arkadelphia, Ark.

Bring back gleaning

Regarding the Nov. 1 People Making a Difference feature about restoring the tradition of gleaning: As a former employee of a municipal landfill, I witnessed trailer loads of food and other goods, all perfectly usable, being buried at great expense.

Any employee found salvaging was to be fired. Many of these items could have been donated to the needy. Instead, the companies got a break on taxes and avoided lawsuits by dumping their items, which were often discarded for expired sale dates or tiny mistakes or changes in the manufacturing process.

Anyone who thinks the US is not a wasteful society needs to spend a day at their local landfill.

David Kveragas

Newton Township, Pa

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