Letters to the Editor
Readers write about freedom of religious speech, why the US should end the Cuba embargo, Somali piracy, using the Web for news, and why the US can learn from Canadian schools.
Don't censor religious criticisms
In regard to the March 30 Opinion piece, "The new threat to freedom of expression": Moves to limit global religious critique foster a soft racism while threatening free speech movements.
My father was a pastor and theology professor, and I constantly gain from the perspectives of friends who subscribe to varied faiths. Exposure of that kind makes clear the many gradations in orthopraxy, even within a single faith. No one Muslim I know goes about things the same way, and that is true of my Jewish and Christian friends.
Issues ranging from self-expression to sex-based exploitation get separate and unequal rules in the Middle East. That smacks of a soft racism, and opponents of religious critique laws should say so.
US must end Cuba embargo
In regard to the April 10 editorial, "On Cuba, Obama must first think of Latin America – and democracy": It is the United States, not Cuba, that has isolated itself by its outdated policy. All of Latin America and the European Union have relations with Cuba.
It is not Cuba's behavior, but rather a profoundly corrupt system of political patronage here in the United States that keeps our embargo in place. That is obvious to the rest of the world, which observes our relations with China, Saudi Arabia, and Colombia with their horrific human rights records and undemocratic governments.
The West is partly responsible for Somali piracy
Regarding the April 14 article, "Sticky legal battles await for captured Somali pirates": Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton calls for global action to stop Somali piracy. She may be right to do so, but before that happens, the Western world must look in the mirror and figure out how much it was responsible for the Somali piracy.
According to reports, the West is looting the fish catch of the Somalis and dumping hazardous and toxic substances, including nuclear waste into the Somali coastal areas. These barbaric acts are much worst than piracy and must be stopped at once, too.
Web is a more reliable source of news than mainstream media
In regard to the April 15 article, "Tax Day, 2009: The day the mainstream media died?": Thank you for covering today's "tea parties." The author of this article makes a very good point about the role of the Web in sharing information now. I was sad that the Monitor did not cover the tea parties in advance, but I had the information I needed directly from the Web, and so did everyone else. It is nice having a central location that you trust for information, and if mainstream media aren't trustworthy, the need will be met in other ways. Thanks!
US schools should look to Canada for education example
Regarding the March 24 article, "Lessons from most successful schools abroad": While it is quite interesting to contrast the Finish school system to the one in the US, I think it would be rather challenging for the US to adopt the Finish model wholesale or even just in parts.
The European social landscape, especially the elaborate Nordic version, with its many government-funded and regulated programs, is just not available in the US and far too alien to the majority of the population to ever have a chance to be implemented.
More helpful would be a comparison to the Canadian education system, which is very similar to the one found in the US, but which can also be found in the top ranks of world education on a regular basis, especially in subjects such as mathematics and science. The close resemblance of the systems should make it easier to detect the significant differences, and it would also simplify the implementation of any improvements in the US.