Media showed biasAs a Muslim American, I...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Media showed bias

As a Muslim American, I am appalled at the way the news media treated the Muslims immediately after the bombing in Oklahoma City.

The fingers were pointing and the stereotyping machine was at full speed to condemn and demand retribution. Many of the so-called experts were heard convicting the "Islamic extremists" of causing the bombing.

As the facts started to point to others for committing this terrorist act, the same news machine and its experts fell into a deep silence.

The same people so eager to blame Muslims for this act have, by their silence, reflected the ugly racist attitudes now directed against Islam and Muslims by the news media.

The overwhelming majority of Muslims are law-abiding, highly educated citizens, yet the news media continue to use the criminal activities of persons who claim to be Muslims to define all Muslims.

Does Hitler define Christianity? Absolutely not. Does the criminal activities of the Jewish Defense League define the Jewish faith? No.

Let us take this opportunity, as Americans, to heal the scars caused by any criminal activity hiding behind religious causes.

Let us all pray for those who died in this bombing and their families. May Allah give them the strength to carry on with their lives.

Ahmed G. Awad

Towson

Stop all terrorism

Terrorism in any form is the most despicable obscenity known to man.

The willful murder of innocents to promote political, ethnic or religious beliefs by means of sneak attacks cannot be tolerated in a society that claims to lead the world in protecting human dignities and the right to live in safety without fear.

It is so sad that it took a heart-breaking tragedy such as a bomb in Oklahoma City to prompt the president to speak out against such terrorism with such authority on TV.

But where have these words been while many ultra-radical groups whose politics are based on religious faith, ethnic background or other maniacal reasons, spew violence as the necessity to "change the system" that they live in?

Is not a drive-by shooting terrorism? Is not a crack-house in a neighborhood terrorism? Is not the death of innocent bystanders -- especially children -- caught in the cross-fire of gang shooting terrorism?

Clinton's comments regarding hate mongers has struck at the core of a problem. But they have also created a field day for the media and politicians to climb aboard the bandwagon and take pot-shots at possibly the wrong group of people.

Standing tall, looking stern and making politically correct comments may make good press for the president, but empty words have not the power to effect change.

Developing a cure for a disease doesn't do much good for the patient after he is dead.

Until our society makes it clear through actions, not words, that all inflammatory rhetoric is unacceptable, those who would promote violence in the name of revolution will continue to brandish the deadly invisible sword of terrorism at will.

R. E. Johnson.

Glen Burnie

Brotherly love

Perhaps it wouldn't hurt if the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank gave most of the aid distributed to the former Yugoslavia only to organizations run cooperatively between Christians and Muslims, thereby giving them a reason to love their enemies.

Scott Lawrence

Parkton

Bombers destroy all they claim to defend

I pick up my 11-month-old daughter and my heart aches for the parents in Oklahoma City who will never do that again. It aches for the children who will never get a good answer when they ask why their parents died.

When President Clinton called the bombers "evil cowards," he was right. But he left out another adjective: stupid.

Stupid because the bombing is likely to work against what the bombers supposedly believed in, which somehow became twisted in their fevered brains into a plan of terrorism.

The tragedy at Waco two years ago should be investigated. But now anyone who suggests that the government agents involved in that incident might have been guilty of wrongdoing will be viewed with suspicion.

It is as wrong to lump all those who call for justice in the Waco affair and those who support the right to keep and bear arms with the lunatic fringe as it would be to blame all Arabs for a few Arab terrorists, or all environmentalists for the few who blow up dams and spike trees.

With the possible exception of a few lunatics, the militia movement makes it clear that it does not intend to overthrow the government or condone terrorism, that its intention is to demonstrate what is meant by a "well-regulated" citizen militia. Not regulated by the government, as that would undermine its purpose, but by the common morality of its members.

The bombers are stupid, because the actual result seems likely to be more power given to law-enforcement officials and more infringements on the rights these killers thought they were defending.

Our nation's leaders are rushing to take measures that are just as unlikely to prevent further terrorism as the bombing is unlikely to bring about an investigation of Waco or a reduction of government power.

They say they need sweeping new powers to limit certain kinds of "violent" speech, to tap electronic communications and to search for evidence. Such measures have never stopped criminals or terrorists or made us any safer, and they have always been abused.

Israel has had near totalitarian control of Palestinian areas for years, with curfews and military checkpoints at every other corner, yet none of this has prevented extremists from carrying out terrorist attacks.

These measures have placed such a burden on the majority of Palestinians, who want nothing more than to get to their jobs and make a good living, that the insane rantings of extremists begin to sound reasonable to them.

To make any dent in the possibility of terrorist attacks, we would have to live in exactly the sort of police state these paranoid, idiot bombers thought they were attacking.

Many of our basic liberties include a price in safety. Free speech can be misused to slander and ruin reputations. It is frustrating that the Ku Klux Klan has the right to hold rallies, and it is difficult to determine if they have crossed the line to inciting violence.

With the news trumpeting each incident of gun violence, it is difficult to remember the importance of never allowing only the government to have weapons.

The Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments can make it difficult to ** arrest and prosecute criminals. The Eighth Amendment may prevent capital punishment in cases where our outrage very strongly demands revenge, so that one innocent man can have a chance to live and prove his innocence.

But America is built on the principle that these liberties are worth the risks.

As Benjamin Franklin said, "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty

nor safety."

Carl Aron

Catonsville

McNamara's war, Morrison's protest

Media references to the death of Norman Morrison occasioned by Robert McNamara's recently published book on the Vietnam War make it appropriate to recall that Baltimore was Morrison's home at the time of his dramatic protest.

Since the middle 1950s I have been an active member of Baltimore Monthly Meeting, Stony Run, of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Norman Morrison was our executive secretary for three years, 1962-1965.

He had grown up an active Presbyterian in Chautauqua Lake, N.Y. He received a Bachelor of Divinity degree from what was then Western Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh and had been interested in pacifism since his teen-age years.

With his wife Anne, he joined the Pittsburgh Friends Meeting in 1959. He came to Stony Run from the position of director of the Friends Center in Charlotte, N.C.

In 1965, Norman was 31 years old, married to Anne, with three children. The youngest, Emily, was born in 1964.

On Nov. 2, 1965, Norman performed a kind of moral protest action modeled on that of Vietnamese monks.

He drove to Washington, taking Emily with him -- he was the baby-sitting parent that afternoon while Anne picked up the older children from school.

In the early evening, under the windows of the Pentagon, he poured kerosene over himself, put Emily down, and set himself afire. Apparently he died within minutes. Emily was unharmed.

Two days later Norman's wife received a letter from him postmarked in Washington Nov. 2.

Today even former Secretary of Defense McNamara can admit, painfully, that the Vietnam War was folly.

When will we see that all war is not only folly but evil, and just stop doing it?

Eleanor Brooks Webb

Cockeysville

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