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Where's the Truth?

The Nov. 15 editorial, "Spymaster Meets the People," mentions John Deutch's denial that the CIA was involved in drug trafficking in the late 1980s to benefit the contras. Mr. Deutch will hopefully forgive those of the US populace who may view his denial with a bit of skepticism.

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Remember Elliot Abrams, the State Department official who testified before the US Congress on the noninvolvement of the US in Nicaragua? Since his dissembling has been well established, are we to believe that the US government has suddenly changed?

It is appropriate that this debate is centered in the state of California, the home of Hiram Johnson. He wrote, "The first casualty of war is truth." To many of the right wing, the contras' battle in Nicaragua was, indeed, a holy war. And truth appears to remain a casualty.

Philip Baumeister

Sebastopol, Calif.

Religion, not country, as a home

The Nov. 4 Home Forum article, "On Being Half Lebanese, Half Italian, and All American," pleasantly surprised me. My father is Lebanese-Palestinian and my mother is Iranian-American. I hold both Lebanese and American citizenship. However, my childhood memories find their roots in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

At Stanford University, many curious students have questioned me about my origins. Instantly I blush, knowing that my answer will not simply be, "I'm from Santa Barbara, and you?"

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As I conclude my little "speech," students systematically sigh in admiration and reply, "This is so interesting! I wish I were as well-rounded as you." In many ways, I agree, and I am proud of my international background. But in the end, I cannot categorize myself by any nationality. Deep down, the most vital element holding me together is my faith. Above all, I am a Muslim.

Amira Salaam

Palo Alto, Calif.

What about natural gas?

The Nov. 19 article, "Dustup Ahead as Air Particle Rules Go Under Microscope," raises some questions. Namely, why is this paper and our government not advocating greater use of natural gas? The author identifies huge Midwestern coal-burning power plants as a major contributor to pollution. Why no mention of how burning natural gas might help?

Tom Pierpont


Undermining Tibet

The Nov. 6 article, "In Tibet, Will Glass Towers Bring Harmony?" deserves a thoughtful response. I was in Tibet with three other monks and nuns who were traveling as anonymous tourists in June 1995.

We saw Tibetans doing the hard road work, sweeping the streets, building the buildings that were destroyed by the Cultural Revolution. All the shop owners were Chinese. Tibetans had a little market for show in Tibetan quarters ... about four blocks from a tourist hotel. Few Tibetans spoke to us out of fear of being overheard by Chinese authorities. Signs were posted all over about penalties for clustering and rioting.

In the countryside, there is feverish mining of precious stones and enormous hauling of timber and natural resources. There were few herds and wildlife. The nomad life has been seriously curtailed, and all Tibetans are taxed and told what to raise as crops or animals and, of course, to only have one child. The language taught in school is Chinese, then English, and a third language is Tibetan. Tibetans only have the right to attend school until third grade, then are used for labor.

The monasteries were seriously limited and mostly empty. There seemed to be a pervasive depression among the Chinese and Tibetans alike. The lifestyle that Tibetans had in this century until 1950 fit the climate and the deepest religious sensitivity. Now they are more backward than ever before. The art has been plundered, the language curtailed, the monasteries managed toward secular goals of Communist China.

Mary Margaret Funk

Beech Grove, Ind.

Monastic Interreligious Dialogue

Letters for publication must include your address. All are subject to editing. Mail to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail (200 words maximum) to OPED@CSPS.COM.

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