Readers Write: Islamists still dangerous; Irish history matters; US needs a CEO prez

Letters to the editor for the February 27 weekly print issue: One reader worries that despite post-Arab Spring political involvement, Islamists still have the potential for religious tyranny and terror. Another reader defends a common subject of Irish films – The Troubles – as still relevant. A third reader takes issue with a column arguing that the US doesn't need a CEO president.

Islamists still pose a risk

I very much appreciated the Feb. 20 editorial "Islamists come in from the cold." Kudos to the Arab Spring and to all the many heroic and forward-thinking Arabs who seek self-governance and dignity through peaceful means. Empowering nonviolence is crucial.

Hussein Ibish, senior research fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine, a firm advocate of a fair and just negotiated settlement to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, understands Islamists better than most, and he wisely points out the importance of "introducing inviolable constitutional principles protecting the rights of individuals, women, and minorities."

Even with that sage advice, I am quite wary about pushing the all-inclusive message too hard. Extremists and hatemongers (in addition to radical Islamists) often piggyback on real struggles for freedom, happily usurping momentum for a just cause in order to gain positive publicity, popularity, and funds for their own self-absorbed aims.

Even moderate Islamists might be a very risky investment because the potential for religious tyranny is always a very real danger, no matter which religion. Both Israel's and the Palestinians' best chance for peace is to let religion be a private matter, not a state-funded project.

Anne Selden Annab

Mechanicsburg, Pa.

Irish 'Troubles' matter

In his brief review of the movie "Shadow Dancer" in the Feb. 6 issue, film critic Peter Rainer wonders why "so very many Irish-themed movies are about The Troubles" ("Sundance 2012: documentaries dominate"). The answer might be found in considering why Britain and the United States produced so many movies about World War II after 1945.

The Troubles spanned three decades and touched the lives of all those living in Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. The 1998 Good Friday Agreement brought the violence and turmoil of the Troubles to a close. It is not surprising that contemporary filmmakers seek to explore the complex moral issues confronting those involved in the conflict.

I welcome films that enhance our understanding of Irish and British history and I look forward to seeing "Shadow Dancer" when it is released in Britain.

Alistair Budd


President is a CEO

I was offended by Walter Rodgers's Feb. 6 column "A CEO as US president? America is not a business." The president is head of the executive branch of our federal government. That makes him the chief executive officer. To imply that we don't need a chief executive officer is a misrepresentation of the responsibilities of our president.

Promoting President Obama or saying that an opposing candidate isn't qualified – that's fair game. But to imply that the role of president doesn't include being a CEO-type leader is both wrong and insulting to our intelligence.

Phil Smith

Penn Valley, Calif.

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