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‘Those people’ may be different but that may be good

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Editor, The Times:

OK to restrict Muslims, almost 50% in U.S. say” (Times, News, Dec. 18): How sad! And those who claim to be highly religious were the most likely to agree. They should go back to the teachings of the man they claim to follow.

So the Muslims have a different system of belief than do Christians. That does not make them our enemies. Our Constitution was designed to protect the right of people to have different beliefs.

The Jews of Jesus’ time had a group “over there” that they despised. No “good Jew” would even talk to “them” unless necessary and would certainly not associate with “them.” Yet, Jesus asked one of “those” women for a drink. Absolutely unheard of. He even went so far as to tell a story about one of “them” who rescued an injured Jew. When he asked the man, to whom the story was told, “Who was the neighbor to the injured man,” that Jew could not bring himself to use the name for one of “those people.”

The story loses its impact to us now as we are so used to associating the word “good” with the word “Samaritan.” But the Samaritans were the ones the Jews despised.

Yes, there are some Muslims who hate us and have done harm, but “Christians” have done terrible things to others and even to other “Christians.” Perhaps we should restrict everyone who claims to be Christian.

— Marion Wolfe, Mercer Island

And we didn’t speak up

Are we so willing to toss out 200-plus years of freedom for some false sense of security that half of all Americans believe it’s OK to restrict the civil liberties of our Muslim neighbors and co-workers?

In Germany (to paraphrase Martin Niemöller) it was the Jews, then communists, then trade unionists, and then they started in on everybody else.

If this were taken seriously and implemented, who would be next? People who don’t go to church enough? Gays and lesbians? Sierra Club members? Or… you?

— Karen Isaacson, Woodinville

Salvation this way

“OK to restrict Muslims” points out that people who are highly religious are more apt to agree with these restrictions than those who are less religious. As a person of faith, I disagree strongly with any movement to restrict an individual’s civil rights simply because he or she is Muslim. This is contrary to both my faith and to the Constitution of this country. It is pure and simply wrong. I hope and pray that we do not take any steps down this path of religious discrimination.

I also am weary of articles that imply that religious persons are Republicans. I am a commissioned minister in the United Church of Christ; my faith is important to me, and I am a Democrat.

— Marcia McLaughlin, Shoreline

Dehumanizing blame

Hire no evil

There has been a remarkable silence on the issue of prisoner abuse and torture in American-controlled prisons in Guantánamo Bay, Afghanistan and Iraq. When the images from Abu Ghraib were made public, there were expressions of shock, outrage, disgust and indignation, but as soon as the images disappeared from the front pages, so did any mention of them.

As Jamie Mayerfeld and Darius Rejali rightly point out, George Bush’s nominee for U.S. attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, provided the “legal” framework for the condoning and use of torture (“Nation doesn’t need an AG who cleared path for torture,” guest commentary, Dec. 17). Until now, neither the administration, nor the military, nor Congress has taken any responsibility for the barbarous (and illegal) acts being committed under the guise of national security and the war on terror.

Members of Congress have the chance to finally speak out against these acts by opposing Gonzales’ nomination as attorney general.

— Alexander E. Elinson, professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Queens College/The City University of New York (and UW alumnus), Brooklyn, N.Y.

Tortured logic

Jamie Mayerfeld’s and Darius Rejali’s commentary on U.S. attorney general nominee Alberto Gonzales is ridiculous and uses specious logic. They allege that Gonzales bears “direct responsibility for the cruelties inflicted at Abu Ghraib.” Their “evidence” is wanting, and the butterfly effect they try to construct between Gonzales and Abu Ghraib is nonsense.

The chargings and guilty pleas/verdicts of the offending soldiers are strong evidence that what went on at Abu Ghraib was not authorized by the military or the administration. Defense attorneys notwithstanding, no judge has yet found a causal relationship between the Gonzales memo and the actions of the charged soldiers.

Furthermore, it is an imaginative stretch that the soldiers who abused prisoners at Abu Ghraib even knew about Gonzales’ memorandum, let alone had read it. The authors’ attempt to pin the responsibility on the AG-designate is without foundation. Put the blame where it belongs — on the soldiers who abused these prisoners, not on Gonzales.

— Mark Morris, Woodway

Eye for an eye

Fidel Castro’s rebuttal to the U.S. mission in Cuba is the most poignant statement yet on our loss of moral standing under George W. Bush. The U.S. mission in Cuba displayed Christmas decorations, and a large “75” covered in lights, referring to the 75 political prisoners arrested by Castro in 2004 (“U.S. told to pull decorations in Cuba,” News, Dec. 15).

Cuban officials protested, and the director of the U.S. mission just laughed at them. Sadly, Fidel had the last laugh. The Cubans erected a huge billboard near the mission, with full-color pictures of the atrocities of Abu Ghraib (“Cuba slams U.S. prisoner abuse,” News, Dec. 18).

Fair or not, in the eyes of the world, the United States is now worse than cruel tyrants like Castro, and the guilt for this circumstance should fall on no one but George Bush.

— Lee Gray, Seattle

Season’s deletings

Sheep may safely raze

For some time now, society has been trying to find “politically correct” ways to express what Christmas is about. But the fact is that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. This is not only a religious event but also a historical event.

Why are people working so hard to remove Christ from Christmas? Many people feel it is offensive to those of other beliefs to talk about Christ. However, it does not seem to be offensive to publish articles about Hanukkah (which is very clearly a Jewish religious holiday and celebrated only by Jews) or about Ramadan (which is a Muslim religious event and celebrated only by Muslims). Why can’t articles be written on the spiritual meaning of Christmas?

Those who are not Christians can celebrate Christmas in a way that is meaningful to them. As a Christian, I think it’s time that we start putting “Christ” back into Christmas.

— Aniko Juhasz, Seattle

Anti-Claus is coming

There ain’t no Santa Claus. Christmas is Jesus Christ’s birthday and has little to do with making children happy with glitter and gifts. Manger scenes are what we need everywhere to lift the world out of its moral doldrums. At least that’s the read I get from some of the opinions being published of late.

And just wait until Easter. I suppose there’s really no Easter Bunny either — and perverting a memorial to the Resurrection into some crazy event designed to make children happy with colored eggs is out-and-out devil worship. There is no end.

Soon, I suppose, someone will be proposing a constitutional amendment that would deny a good Irishman a pint or two to drive the snakes from his soul — in honoring the occasion’s namesake on St. Patrick’s Day.

— Tom Camfield, Port Townsend