Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 09, 2004

Abuses reveal nation has lost its moral stature

The Sun's editorial "Beyond Abu Ghraib" (May 5) asks the right question: "Where should we begin to decry the inhumane, unseemly treatment of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison?" But I keep coming up with an even more devastating response.

I am inexpressibly sickened with shock and horror (not "shock and awe") at the spectacle of this human inhumanity to fellow humans. But I am also experiencing immense grief, shame and guilt.

There is shock and horror when one discovers the atrocities of a Pol Pot or an Adolf Hitler or the countless brutal acts one can cite from any country's history, including our own.

But the perpetrators of these acts were present-day Americans. My sense of shame and guilt stems from the fact that these bestial acts were committed in my name and paid for with my tax dollars.

I feel somehow responsible. Perhaps I did not do enough to stop this war; I did not refuse to pay my taxes.

Now I feel an unspeakable outrage at my government for waging this war and, in so doing, corrupting and destroying what once was our moral leadership in the world.

How have we so totally lost our way in such a short time?

Sylvia Eastman

Baltimore

Scandal a reminder of role of judiciary

Perhaps the only good that can come of these horrific pictures of abused Iraqi prisoners is to convince our Supreme Court justices of the kinds of things that can happen when "enemy combatants" are held in military custody indefinitely without representation or judicial review ("Beyond Abu Ghraib," editorial, May 5).

If such abuse can happen in Iraq, who is to say that it cannot happen at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba?

Reza Shadmehr

Ellicott City

Search for weapons set a sorry precedent

How can we expect President Bush to find out who is responsible for the torture of Iraqi prisoners?

He has not even found the weapons of mass destruction.

Denny Olver

Baltimore

Time for leaders to take the blame

Our president and our other top leaders, all in a chorus, are saying that the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison are un-American and despicable ("Bush tries to quell Muslim uproar," May 6).

But who is in charge of the prison? And who is in charge of the prisons at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and the Bagram air base in Afghanistan and other prisons under Pentagon control? Is it North Koreans? Is it the Taliban?

I would say that actions violating due process and basic prisoner rights used to be un-American. Now our leaders try to justify indefinite detention, extraordinary physical pressure verging on torture and secret lockup of people with no accountability to the public.

It is time for them to accept the blame. It is time for them to resign.

Len Latkovski

Frederick

Bias toward Muslims rooted in ignorance

The news that the violence and bias against Muslims is up nearly 70 percent is extremely disturbing ("Violence, bias against Muslims up nearly 70%," May 4).

There is in the United States a lack of understanding of Muslim culture - which has been colored by the actions of an extreme few.

But I have worked with and been acquainted with numerous Muslim people, mainly from Iran and Afghanistan. Every one of them has had the highest of family values and morals. They are very kind, hospitable and friendly people.

I would urge others to reach out to Muslims and anyone of a different religion, culture or ethnicity.

Carol Gupta

Hydes

CAIR must confront Muslim extremists

The Council on American-Islamic Relations deplores the increase of violence and bias against Muslims ("Violence, bias against Muslims up nearly 70%," May 4).

Yet the council's voice has been deafeningly silent in condemnation of Islamic terrorist suicide bombings worldwide.

Vehement denunciation of those barbaric tactics is long overdue on the council's part and would benefit everyone.

Rea Knisbacher

Baltimore

Use compassion to teach civility

Stephen Wallis is right to identify civility as a target value for improving our public schools ("Make civility a priority," Opinion

Commentary, May 5).

But although he identifies the right problem, Mr. Wallis' solution smacks of the vacuous "get tough" stance that is filling our jails with recidivists.

We need to "wage a war on incivility," he writes. That doesn't sound very civil to me. (Would it be a civil war?)

Mr. Wallis advocates taking a "nurturingly aggressive stance on menacing behavior." Stuffing one's prose with oxymorons is a cheap substitute for subtlety and nuance.

What we need, rather, is communication, compassion and commitment. Manners - the first step to civility - can be taught by rote. Civility cannot. It must be taught by example.

Students must be given civil environments in which to live and learn, and their guardians must be committed to teaching, not merely enforcing, the values they espouse.

Nathaniel Comfort

Baltimore

The writer is a professor of history of medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Vetoing bond bill would hurt the poor

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