Back to Basics
The Richard Haass article "The Political Challenge of Militant Islam" (Opinion * Commentary April 28) shows the kind of distortions and half-truths in which Westerners have wallowed relative to Islam since the Crusades. The real political challenge for us in the West is to shed our misconceptions and learn to understand our one billion relatives and neighbors who are Muslims.
Mr. Haass defines Islamic fundamentalists as "people committed to creating societies organized around Islamic foreign policy," and he says that if they triumph "the results would be catastrophic." However he never examines the Islamic foreign policy that he says we should fear. Is Islamic foreign policy nationalistic? Is it anti-Semitic? Is it anti-Christian? Is Islamic foreign policy racist? Does Islamic foreign policy allow the killing of innocent civilians? The answer to all these questions is a resounding "no!"
Mr. Haass gives only one example of an Islamic state as evidence of the political challenge we should fear. However that example, Iran, is irrelevant because no Muslim would call Iran a model Islamic state. Muslims want to pattern their society after the scores of Islamic states whose policies, both foreign and domestic, are well-documented historical fact. As a scholar, Mr. Haass knows about them.
Ask any Islamic fundamentalist (as Haass defines one) and he will tell you about Islamic states, from Europe (Moorish Spain) to Africa and even Asia, where Muslims, Jews and Christians lived in peace.
The Islamic states that Muslims use as models were not terrorist states.
History shows that the Islamic state founded by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) 1,400 years ago established strict rules of military engagement that forbade harming civilians or even the environment.
An Islamic state would not tolerate the political and economic corruption that Mr. Haass correctly wants to eliminate. Breaking treaties is forbidden in the Islamic state. Why should the West fear this movement? We shouldn't.
Fundamentalism only means "back to the basics." Maybe we should try to learn more about what the Islamic fundamentalists really want. There is a rich body of evidence that indicates that a move back to the basic Islamic state is the best chance we have for lasting peace in the Mid-East and the world.
Michael A. Rashid
I wonder whether Judge Thomas Bollinger would feel the same had it been an 18-year-old male who drank too much and was raped, while unconscious, by his male employer?
It's a shame that some in our society refuse to see that a woman's sexuality is as precious as a man's.
It's frightening when a judge shares such disrespect for women and is allowed to manipulate the system to support his own bigoted view of how the law "should have" been written.
I, for one, would vote for impeachment.
Full of Smoke
General Assembly actions concerning a bill to control youth access to tobacco products illustrates why we need effective political campaign finance legislation and term limitations in Maryland.
The tobacco lobbyists are tireless fundraisers for many members of the General Assembly.
They also lavishly shower certain legislators with favors like Super Bowl trips, free tickets to Orioles games and other sporting events, untold free lunches, flowers and candy for legislative assistants, etc.
They get repaid by controlling the output of the legislature.
Here is an example.
The governor and several legislators co-sponsored identical bills in the House and Senate that would limit youth access to tobacco. The bills initially had clauses that allowed local governments to enact stronger legislation.
During the Senate hearing, tobacco lobbyists stated support for the bill with some minor concerns about where loose tobacco products could be located in stores.
The bill passed the Senate with the non-pre-emption clause intact.
During the hearing in the House Judiciary Committee, however, one tobacco lobbyist made an appeal to remove the non-pre-emption clause because he felt the clause would negatively affect his tobacco vending machine suits currently pending against Bowie, Takoma Park and Montgomery County. Then the sleaze started oozing.
Members of the House Judiciary Committee modified the bill to remove the non-pre-emption clause. Since many legislators felt that a bill without a non-pre-emption clause was counter-productive, the bill was defeated.
Once again our children and the citizens of Maryland were sacrificed to please the tobacco lobby.
John H. O'Hara
A small article in the May Reader's Digest illustrates what voters have been trying to tell elected officials and social workers.
Written by a former beneficiary of a program for the homeless in Minneapolis, the article said that although every effort was made to help homeless clients get on their feet, nobody even tried to use the tools offered to help them.
Besides feeding the men three well balanced meals a day, the shelter provided substance abuse treatment, job opportunities and a free telephone to use in setting appointments for interviews. The writer said that "Out of several hundred men at the shelter, only a handful wanted to get off the free-ride bandwagon."
This was written by a man who had hit the bottom while on drugs and alcohol and did find his way back to a constructive life. When will social program supporters face the reality that many of their clients never intend to attempt to stop being a burden to taxpayers?
Social programs were designed with the very best of intentions. They fail when they do not mandate self-help and personal responsibility.
As one who has never been in upper income status, I know from experience that it takes hard work, courage and discipline to pay my way through life. Social programs which do not foster this kind of philosophy encourage dependency in the needy rather than independence.
Now is the time to face facts and change the system. Unless the reason common sense does not prevail and social programs fail is that bureaucrats wish to enhance and preserve their jobs.