Bring on the gas: In regard to Jim Schutze's story "Fear Itself" (October 4), I personally have seen so much death in my lifetime that death itself is one thing I am no longer afraid of. The loss of my father, sister and countless friends over the years has made me tough and raw, not to mention all the disasters I have witnessed (Delta 191, tragic house fires and shootings, etc.). Whatever Osama bin Laden does now will not cause me to change my daily routine. Bring on the gas, chemicals or bombs, you wealthy Muslim outcast. I am a caring and giving American who is unafraid and believes that God is watching my back at all times. Do not be a wimp, fellow Americans, or the terrorists win!
Dumbfounded: I wanted to compliment you on your article dealing with Texas juvenile boot camps ("Unhappy Campers," September 27). As an attorney who works with lots of people with substance-abuse problems, I'm always dumbfounded at the suggestion to send drug addicts to boot camp. What part of boot camp is supposed to help them with their drug addiction?
The real question is, Why does the criminal justice system keep up the insanity of trying the same thing and expecting different results? From the viewpoint of one involved in the system, it appears that politicians are more concerned with pandering to the ignorance and fears of middle-class voters than doing something that really makes a difference.
Michael Ray Harris
Distorted view of Islam: Mike Carter (Letters, September 27) fancies himself an expert on Islam. He has done as good a job as the Taliban and Osama bin Laden in providing a distorted view of Islam.
Mike Carter claims to know intimately all the different sects of Islam by asserting that "most Muslims know the Koran less well than most Christians know the Bible." So, Mike Carter, how many Muslims and Christians did you interview in order to make this claim?
Furthermore, he states that "in the current situation, however, the problem is not our hatred for Muslims, something we must of course guard against, it is the hatred so many of them harbor toward us." Just who exactly are "us" and "we"? Whites? Christians? Americans? Maybe Mike Carter doesn't know, but there are seven million American Muslims today. "Them," dear Mike Carter, is also "us" and "we"!
It is very easy to quote anything out of context in a way that supports your own warped view. He claims that "the passages in the Koran do not read as though they were intended as allegory."
Let's assume, in our naivete and ignorance, that they were not allegorical. Mike Carter takes the liberty to quote numerous verses from the Al-Quran. Let me concentrate on the first example he puts to us. Mike says Sura II, verse 191, "tells the reader that death in battle is the reward of those who suppress the faith." Allow me to quote the following:
Sura II, verse 190: "Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for God loveth not transgressors."
And Sura II, verse 191 in its entirety: "And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from wherever they have turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they first fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. For such is the reward of those who suppress faith."
Sura II, verse 192: "But if they cease, God is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful."
Sura II verse 193: "And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression and there prevail justice and faith in God; but if they cease, let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression."
I dare anyone to find a religion or country that exhorts its followers or citizens not to fight back against tumult and oppression on the road to justice. Here, I would like to quote President George Bush:
"We did not seek this conflict, but we will win it."
"We're going to smoke them out."
"This is a different kind of war which we will wage aggressively and methodically to disrupt and destroy terrorist activity."
"America will act deliberately and decisively, and the cause of freedom will prevail."
Isn't President Bush doing exactly what Sura II, verses 190-193, demands: If you are attacked first, "smoke them out" and punish them until they no longer oppress you or cause tumult, and justice prevails?
The meaning of jihad itself has been so maligned in the media that any mention of this word in public turns heads. Is Mike Carter aware that jihad means "struggle"? It means to struggle against evil. Former alcoholics struggle within themselves to keep away from alcohol. This is jihad.
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Mike Carter also mentions that "it should not surprise us that, of the three great missionary faiths, Islam has been the one most prone to religiously sanctioned violence." Perhaps Mike Carter forgets the crusades or the Inquisition or slavery in America. Each has claimed many lives and instituted terror in the hearts of many more. So are Christians more "prone" to killing "infidels," persecuting heretics and supporting slavery?
Should Muslims who learn about all the ugliness of Christians and Jews assume that all Christians and Jews believe in what those insane, overzealous maniacs say or do? Should Muslims also learn about the good things that Christians and Jews have done?
I pray and hope for the sake of this beautiful and free country that people listen with open hearts and minds, unclouded by prejudice. I pray and hope that justice will be done.
Ms. Hamid (full name withheld)