April 25, 2009

DHS demonizes ordinary citizens

After reading the Department of Homeland Security's assessment of possible right-wing wing extremism, I found it to be a chilling report but probably not for the reasons the authors intended ("Right-wing extremism seen rising," April 16).

While reading it, I realized that in the eyes of the DHS, my father would have been considered a potential recruit for right-wing extremists.

He was white, a Republican, a pro-life Christian, an Army veteran and an NRA member, and he firmly believed in his constitutional right to speak out if he disagreed with the policies of the government officials running his country.

He was also a very good father, and he raised his son to uphold the same high standards he had and believe in the same inalienable rights.

I guess that also makes me a potential recruit for some right-wing extremist group.

The DHS report comes close to demonizing the very people the agency is supposed to be defending.

To my mind, it raises a disturbing question: What is more dangerous to our country - a few fanatic right-wing extremist groups or a paranoid U.S. government agency?

Larry E. Sturgill, Marriottsville

Left-wing critics never so paranoid

I disagree with the letter writer who sees no difference between the anti-President Barack Obama rantings coming from conservative media hosts such as Fox News' Glenn Beck and the barbs directed at former President George W. Bush from the left ("Mouthpiece for left ignores real venom," April 20).

The writer took issue with a column by Eric Boehlert linking Mr. Beck's doomsday rhetoric with the killing of three police officers by a conspiracy theorist who had taken Mr. Beck's message to heart ("Airing a dangerous paranoia," Commentary, April 14).

While progressives were often outspoken in lambasting the Bush administration, to my mind their criticism never took on the undertone of paranoia and possible violence that I hear in the words of many right-wing spokesmen today.

Calling President Bush a liar, as many on the left did, was not a call to action in the same way that the claim from right-wing critics that President Obama is building a totalitarian state and intent on outlawing guns is.

There are also far more right-wing media outlets actively spreading their anti-Obama message than corresponding voices on the left.

And some of the more liberal pundits, such as Jon Stewart of The Daily Show, couch their message in humor. It is hard to imagine someone being moved to commit murder after watching his show.

Jonathan Jensen, Baltimore

Wrong time to aid private schools

With our state facing budget problems, why did Gov. Martin O'Malley slip $2 million into the state budget for aid to faith-based private schools that are not responsible to local school boards and do not play by the same rules as our democratically run public schools?

Perhaps we should be grateful that the General Assembly rejected the bill to allow tax credits to businesses for donations made to private schools, a bill that would have worsened the deficit.

But it's too bad that our Maryland Constitution, unlike those of Virginia, Pennsylvania and most other states, lacks a religious freedom provision to protect us from having government divert public funds to sectarian schools.

Edd Doerr, Silver Spring

The writer is president of Americans for Religious Liberty.

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