Fear of camp at Ft. Meade unjustifiedDuring the Midwest...

September 24, 1993

Fear of camp at Ft. Meade unjustified

During the Midwest flooding, I saw people from all walks of life struggling together against a common foe. I witnessed convicts in various states joining in to help people trying to save their homes, businesses, etc.

Working side by side, I saw barriers give way not only to the river but to prejudice. From shared successes and failures, I saw bridges being formed where there had been none.

There was a new sense of gratitude, understanding and perception. Everybody who makes a bad decision is not beyond redemption.

I read about the intense community opposition to the proposed transfer of the Herman L. Toulson Correctional Boot Camp to Fort Meade. In this current climate of violence and crime, I can understand the public's fear and apprehension. If the security of an army base and razor wire fences can't protect you, nothing can.

But that's not the point. The boot camp is dedicated to re-directing those first-time and minor offenders from a life of crime. It is a worthy and necessary endeavor.

On one hand we have a deserted, decaying group of barracks serving no purpose. On the other, we have men and women temporarily sidetracked but not yet permanently lost.

A lot of people, places and things just need another chance to be productive. What does it say about us as human beings if fear prevents us from making positive use of our human and material resources?

As long as fear holds us hostage, how dare we call this "the land of the free and the home of the brave?"

Michael Green

Baltimore

Islam and Others

I cannot fault The Sun for printing editorials with which I disagree.

The author of an editorial, though, owes readers the courtesy of a well-researched, factually correct basis on which the opinion is based. By these standards, the editorial "Embattled Islam," (Dec. 13) was a disgrace.

It was a potpourri of mistaken history colored by wishful thinking rather than historical fact. Contrary to the editorial's position, Islamic fundamentalism, as expressed by religious intolerance of non-Muslims, is not a response to persecution, but a long-standing and unpleasant aspect of Islam.

The first sentence expresses a myth that is the mistaken premise of the editorial. "The world is accustomed to Muslims at war with Jews over Israel and Palestine, which has obscured the longer history in which those two religions coexisted more easily than most."

Cecil Roth, in "A History of the Jews," recounts that coexistence in the early days of Islam: ". . . one after another of the independent Jewish tribes were assaulted and in most cases either expelled, exterminated or forced to embrace Islam."

Though we may be tempted to attribute this belligerence to a less civilized time, Jews under the influence of Islam have suffered greatly in this century, too. Albert Memmi, in his collection of essays, "Jews and Arabs," lists no fewer than seven major massacres of Jews in Arab Muslim lands in this century. Most of the massacres and depredations he lists occurred prior to the founding of Israel.

The editorial is wrong in its specific premise that only the dispute over Israel has poisoned otherwise pacific relations between Jews and Muslims. How does it rate in its overall view that Muslim extremism is merely a reaction to persecution of Muslims around the world?

The persecution of non-Muslim minorities in Muslim lands has been a constant over the years. The Copts of Egypt, the Chaldeans of Iraq and the Ba'Hai of Iran suffer now as they have suffered in the past. Their fates cannot be blamed on Hindu tensions with Muslims in India or on Serbian massacres of Muslims in Bosnia.

It is a fallacy to suppose, as the editorial does, that an end to conflicts between Muslims and non-Muslims will generally undermine the fundamentalist strain of Islam. If history is an insufficient teacher of this lesson, then maybe we should turn to current events. The Arab-Israeli negotiations provide a disproof of this flawed reasoning.

In recent weeks, despite the many concessions made by Yitzhak Rabin's government at the Middle East negotiations, Arab violence against Israel has increased.

During the early days of the intifada, reporters informed us that Arab violence against Israel was a sign of the frustration at the hard-line Israeli government. With the "moderates in Israel's Labor Party" now in charge, what is the excuse for the current wave of violence? Is the violence of Muslim fundamentalism only a reaction?

David Gerstman

Baltimore

What a drag

As members of the National Hot Rod Association and the local drag racing community for many years, we are quite tired of the negative approach that the media take in reporting our great sport.

What a shame that had Robert Brooks won at Capitol Raceway on Sept. 4, instead of being injured while racing, we wouldn't have heard or read anything about him, or drag racing events over the weekend.

If the media want to report news of our sport, then please report all of it.

Pat Branning

Mitch Willingham

Baltimore

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