Letters to the editor
Readers write in about women in the Olympics and in Iran, Christians in Iraq, children coping with failure, and right-wing rhetoric.
Iraq and women police
Regarding John Hughes's column "Female cops in Iraq? Arab women are seizing freedom.": To lump Iraq in with Saudi Arabia and compare women's experiences in the two countries makes it seem as if Iraq is as restrictive as one of the most conservative Islamic states in the world. This is false. Women in Iraq under Saddam Hussein (yes, Saddam) enjoyed posts in government, academia, and health services. They often worked outside the home. The state of women's rights around the Middle East is vastly different, and journalists, American military leaders in Iraq, and the American public should recognize this.
We must begin to understand the complexities of the region in order to develop better and more appropriate policies for US-Middle East relationships and joint development goals.
Regarding "The dangers of revolutionary right-wing rhetoric" , Walter Rodgers should research and write an article on "The dangers of revolutionary left-wing rhetoric." He might start with the threats on Sarah Palin's life and the vicious attacks on her and her family. I know he will find a treasure-trove of contemporary material to work with. Though Mr. Rodgers does express a valid concern for racial relations in our country, he shows a mind-set that is the underlying source of our residual racial problem today.
We have taken many steps to help improve the opportunities for our black community, but have overlooked the one thing that could rapidly bring about the change we all desire and eliminate the need for most of the other programs: education.
Studies have shown that education can eradicate the differences in income between blacks and whites in our society, which would in turn lead to the elimination of other disparities.
Ironically our black population votes overwhelmingly for the political left that keeps them locked in a lifestyle of permanent subservience and dependence.
Meanwhile, the overriding lust for power in Washington trumps all other concerns. This is what I "rage" against.
Thank you for Walter Rodgers's commentary. I attended a tea party and was shocked at the call to refight the Civil War! I was also disturbed that many of the people I spoke with, the same people who carried flags and the Constitution, were unaware of the 16th Amendment. Too many Americans dismiss Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, and the teabaggers as the fringe. The calls for the president's death are an immoral misuse of religion from the likes of the Rev. Wiley Drake or Steven Anderson. Religious leaders need to speak out against the incitement of violence.
Regarding the opinion piece "The real reason Iran can't be trusted" by Mamoun Fandy: Iran is probably lying about its intent to build nuclear weapons, but it has nothing to do with its dominant religion.
First, every major religion allows lying under certain circumstances. Second, what country developing a nuclear weapons program hasn't concealed it? Third, the international system is anarchic, each state answers only to itself, forcing state leaders to act similarly in the ways they manipulate other states to maximize strategic interest.
Mr. Fandy also underestimates realpolitik by concluding that only when Iran "feels safe will it negotiate in good faith." In high stakes negotiations, skilled leaders use all the tools in their diplomatic arsenal, including "brinkmanship" and "mad dog diplomacy."
When my students choose to research a topic like "Islam causes terrorism," I advise them that it is extraordinarily difficult to tie religion to something as contemporary and practical as political activity, and unless they are theological experts, they run the risk of writing an ignorant paper based on stereotypes. That, unfortunately, is what Fandy has done.
Iran's foreign-policy decision-making is a very complex process, where different nodes of power debate and vie for influence with the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. The continued political struggle in Iran over the June election is more to blame for a lack of a breakthrough than religiously instructed deception.
Pressure to win
Brooke Williams's insightful commentary essay, "Let a child lose a game and learn to cope with failure" was welcome in this day when it seems our society is reluctant to let anyone – especially children – ever feel pain or even disappointment.
With the kind of pressure that's placed on winning in our society today it's no wonder that kids are afraid to lose. The current trend to shield them from failure is, perhaps, a reaction to this imbalance, which is also harmful.
Are they being taught that it's not whether we win or lose, but how we play the game? Or is our outlook now the famous "Winning is not the most important thing. It's the only thing"? Is that true for us, as adults? Is that how we are living? You can bet that the children are picking it up, regardless of what we say. If winning in life is more important to us than how we are playing the game of life, then the children are going to be terrified of losing.
We must begin to address these issues, and then we can also let kids fail on their own terms and learn to deal with it at their level – they can handle it.
New Milford, N.J.
The article "In the Iraq war, Christians pushed to the brink" is right to highlight the plight of Iraqi Christians at the hands of terrorists and extremists. However, the accusations against the KRG are misleading.
In fact, the KRG has done more for the protection of minorities than any other entity in Iraq. Pope Benedict XVI praised our commitment to tolerance and peaceful coexistence when he met with Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani earlier this year.
The Monitor cites the KRG's "warm welcome" for Christians as a threat and a way of ensnaring vulnerable Christians. This ignores the fact that the majority of people from the ethnic and religious minorities in Ninevah Province welcome the presence of the Kurdish security forces and are grateful for the assistance provided by the KRG, especially during periods of intense sectarian violence and repeated intimidation.
The real problems in Ninevah governorate are the terrorists and the extremists, who are intent upon marginalizing minorities and also wish to marginalize the Kurds. If the KRG has intimidated and threatened Christians as the article implies, why would tens of thousands of Christian families flee to the Kurdistan Region to find refuge?
The article cites Christian resentment about a lack of jobs in one village of refugees in Dohuk. We acknowledge that internally displaced persons need jobs and healthcare as well as refuge, and this is a challenge that faces every government dealing with an influx of refugees.
The KRG is ready to look into every allegation made by HRW [Human Rights Watch], and to work on them under the legal framework of both the Kurdistan Region and Iraq, with the help of HRW and other reputable human rights organizations.
The Kurdistan Regional Government has welcomed thousands of Christians to its cities and provided humanitarian aid and other support in Ninevah Province, which is outside our direct administration.
Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman
High representative to the United Kingdom, Kurdistan Regional government
[Editor's note: The KRG's response to the HRW report came after the story in question was sent to press (the Monitor obtained an advance copy of the report). However, we could have mentioned it when we posted the story online Nov. 10, and we regret the omission.]
Women can jump
Regarding the Nov. 8 article, "Why women can't ski jump in the Winter Olympics": I was shocked to hear that there is still such gender discrimination [in ski jumping], especially at the Olympic Games. The Olympics should be an event where everyone is equally given the opportunity to display their talents.
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