Pat Holt's June 3 Opinion piece "US security, Iraqi freedom are unrelated" offers a shortsighted view of the war on terrorism. Islamist ideology identifies the Middle East's oppression, corruption, and economic backwardness with its autocratic secular governments and their Western supporters. Only the defeat of this ideology and the causes underlying its violent support can guarantee the safety of energy resources, crucial shipping routes, and American allies.
In this political and psychological war, victory cannot be achieved solely by force. America must, as counterinsurgency expert Edward Lansdale once said, "take the cause away from the guerrilla." Open governments, free economies, and responsive institutions produce nations worthy of their citizens' support and defense. Abandoning the goal of an Iraqi democracy would ruin America's final chance to salvage its credibility with the oppressed peoples of the Middle East and leverage their support in fighting extremism and violence.
Alexandria, Va.Research Assistant
National Defense Council Foundation
Regarding your June 3 article "Newsroom conservatives are a rare breed": Is liberal bias overcome by journalistic ethics? This is a formulation that liberals have concocted to blunt criticism. What is this bias then? It's their mass adoption of certain stories and absolute exclusion of others. It's their all-accepting interviews with sources who share their worldview, while skeptical if not cynical with everyone else. And it's their habit of always giving some fellow liberal the last word in the summarizing paragraph.
Your writer confuses - as so many have - the values of the reporter or editor with the quality of the product they publish. The point isn't the political or social values of the newsroom, it's whether or not those values affect the accuracy of the reporting and analysis that appears in print or on the air.
Pew did us all a disservice by asking about a surrogate for bias - the political self-identification of its respondents - rather than investigating bias itself, as evidenced by the product these professionals turn out every day. If you want to analyze bias in journalism, go out and find evidence for your hypothesis - that means content analysis that focuses on factual inaccuracy. Until you do this, you can't conclude anything meaningful about bias.
I have read several articles about the Pew Research Center's poll. Your article, like all the others, left out one salient point: A majority of journalists described themselves as moderate. This does not support the view that the media are overwhelmingly liberal.
Regarding your May 28 article "For Iraqi Women, Abu Ghraib's Taint": Finally, an insightful voice on how much more damaging sexual harassment is to women than men, especially in a culture that tends not to sympathize with a survivor of sexual abuse or harassment. While men have suffered the humiliation of it all, for women it can be ruinous or even fatal. It takes great faith and compassion to be cleansed of rape. For weeks I have read of the outrage of the male prisoners. All the while, I have been wondering about the female prisoners who cannot shake the shame.
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