World Cup victory struck a blow to xenophobiaThe nation of...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 21, 1998

World Cup victory struck a blow to xenophobia

The nation of France was in a state of euphoria with the great gift she received just before Bastille Day by winning the World Cup title in soccer.

What better way is there for a soccer-addicted population to celebrate its national holiday?

The Sun's headline on July 13 proclaimed: "France drinks from cup as the champion of soccer."

Amid the exultation, it behooves the citizens of the Gallic nation to reflect on its heritage and on its present-day political mood.

Jean-Marie Le Pen, the ultraradical, xenophobic head of the National Front Party, has made inroads during the last elections, using foreigners and immigrants as scapegoats for all that's wrong in France, as he demagogued his way into the French body politic.

At a time such as this, it must be pointed out to Le Pen and his followers that two players on the French team, who contributed immeasurably to the victory, are of Algerian and Russian provenance.

At a time such as this, in the midst of jubilation, a sobering thought should prevail.

The celebrants should also be drinking from the metaphorical cup of "liberte, egalite, fraternite," to hail the victory, simultaneously, as a token of the human spirit having conquered bigotry and hatred, if only in the realm of sport.

Leo Bretholz

Baltimore

No excuse for wrongs to the Palestinians

A letter to the editor ("Champions of Palestine living in usurped land," July 11) justifies Palestinian oppression by equating it with this country's land grab from Native Americans who were forced into camps and reservations.

Two wrongs have never equaled one right.

Gary F. Suggars

Baltimore

Weakened tobacco bill should not be considered

The tobacco industry has again demonstrated that it is a true master of deceit. It is amazing how it has changed its positions and the opinions of Congress so rapidly with the massive amounts of money at their disposal.

In June 1997, the industry announced with great fanfare an agreement it had reached with many of the state attorneys general.

The deal was clearly a sweetheart deal for the industry, but it needed the approval of Congress because it granted privileges, including immunity from civil and criminal liability for past and future actions.

Fortunately, the nation's health community mobilized behind the president and certain members of Congress and managed to strip immunity from the bill.

When this happened, the industry bolted and started a $40 million dollar media blitz that painted the bill as a tax bill being imposed on all taxpayers.

The truth is that it would have been a tax break for most American taxpayers because a significant portion of our taxes goes toward paying for tobacco-caused health-care costs. We taxpayers are indeed subsidizing the tobacco industry.

One can only hope that the president and health-minded members of Congress do not cave in to big tobacco and endorse a weaker bill just to get some perceived anti-tobacco legislation passed before the November elections.

John H. O'Hara

Bowie

The writer is president of the Maryland Group Against Smokers' Pollution.

This vote is reserved for opponents of gambling

In reference to a casino coming to Cambridge any time in the future, please read this quote from Joseph Napolitan, a political consultant, who was instrumental in bringing casino gambling to Atlantic City: "We assumed they would create many new jobs, revitalize the city, restore its economic strength and make Atlantic City a better place to live. I sincerely thought it would be the boon we needed. Within three years the crime rate tripled. It went from 50th in the nation in per capita crime to first."

Other consequences were increases in restaurant closings, homeless people, violence and prostitution and a drop in property values.

Do we want our lovely hometown of Cambridge to be known mainly as a gambling town?

I don't, and I will vote only for the candidates who openly oppose casinos and gambling.

Betty Landrum

Cambridge

False allegation was made against founder of Islam

In reference to the article ("This land is mine," June 14) written by Robert O. Freedman, I am writing to express my utmost disgust and surprise at a paper of such high caliber having allowed the publication of such inaccurate and insensitive statements against the prophet Mohammed.

Mr. Freedman's comparison of Arafat and the prophet are false, misleading and insulting to the Muslim world.

The prophet never broke any treaty, and no evidence in history proves otherwise.

Hence, Mr. Freedman's allegations against the prophet are untrue and certainly not backed by evidence.

Of Mr. Freedman, president of Baltimore Hebrew University, I can only assume that his statements were purposefully written to hurt the Muslim sentiment or ignorantly written, in which case I blame The Sun for accepting his writing.

It is unworthy of any scholar to write about a topic that is not well-researched, let alone in such a respected paper as The Sun.

Seema Ahmad

Cambridge, Mass.

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