Letters to the Editors

Standards for office

When will the electorate get a clue and stop electing irresponsible people to governmental office?

Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich and now Rep. Gary Condit (D-Calif.) have all admitted to flings with underlings. If any of these men had done this while working for any company, they would most likely have been fired and/or sued. With this in mind, why do we put up with – and often ignore – such behavior in government, but demand action when it occurs in the workplace?

Should our government and those who work in it be held to lower standards than those who work in the private sector? I should hope not.

Mike Bowman,
medical technology

Nuances of war

It is incredible how some people can fabricate historical facts and how they make lies look so convincing. Israelis always try to portray Palestine as only the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, while the majority of Palestinian refugees, including myself, are from the so-called “Israel” proper. Many Israelis are intimidated by the new emergence of a Palestinian voice on campus telling the facts from the other side of the conflict.

Regarding what Koby Nahmias wrote in his July 6 letter to the editor about not having Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, anyone who follows international news knows this is a lie. Israeli soldiers are protecting Jewish extremists who are insisting on living in Arab centers. For example, in Hebron, approximately 500 heavily armed settlers live in a settlement – among 200,000 Palestinians – and are protected by a couple thousand Israeli soldiers. Is that considered Palestinian autonomy?

The use of F-16s was condemned by the United States and the world as an outrageous act against a weak population, while Koby tries to convince the readers it’s better for Palestinians to face an F-16 than Israeli soldiers! He also failed to mention many civilians were killed in the process. This is typical of Israeli policy nowadays. Israel is officially pursuing Palestinian leaders for targeted assassinations. This policy has drawn an unusually strong condemnation from both U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and United Nations General Secretary Kofi Annan.

As far as the massacres of Sabra and Shatela in 1982, the Cahana committee, which was established by the Israeli government to investigate Israel’s role in the massacres, found Ariel Sharon (Israeli’s prime minister now and defense minister then) responsible. Lebanon was under the Israeli occupation and the protection of Palestinian refugee camps was given to the occupying Israeli Army in return for the withdrawal of the camps’ protectors, the PLO.

As far as the Massacre of Qana is concerned, the UN has published a report expressing the fact that Hezbullah was not present in the camp, which was a sovereign UN camp.

As far as suicide bombers are concerned, at least they have the decency to die in the process, which reflects the desperation of the Palestinians – unlike the Israelis who fight, hiding behind the scopes of their M-16s and in the cockpits of their F-16s.

The pictures of the children fighting the Israeli tanks with rocks are as real as tanks can be. The pictures were taken by a European photographer and not fabricated by the Palestinians, as Koby claims.

The number of Palestinian students on this campus and other campuses around the world is large for the obvious reasons. Israel denies them the right to return to their land while any Jew around the world has the right to become an Israeli citizen. Is that justice?

About the debate, all debates held on this campus in the past ended up with the Israeli side claiming the speakers were anti-Semitic when they felt they were loosing the debate, although in many cases some of the speakers included Jews. Why should I debate with such people?

Wissam Balshe,
electrical engineering,
Arab Students Association

 

Reporting on racism

I am a First Amendment loyalist and a longstanding supporter of third parties, yet I feel compelled to question your decision to run the story “New party makes first mayoral bid” (July 11 Daily). At very least, the format in which it was presented is highly problematic. To present the views of an ardent white supremacist – a man who advocates denying basic constitutional and human rights to minority group members – without offering at least some sort of counterpoint is shoddy journalism. After some discussion with the editor in chief I have been assured this story was not run as some sort of a stunt, in order to incite readers to write angry letters, yet it still seems ill-advised in the form that made it to press.

Your article may well have side effects that you have not anticipated. First, by offering up Leininger’s views without counterpoint or criticism (a privilege seldom if ever extended to other political figures) you have in effect created an unpaid advertisement for him. Even if the broader community finds his views repulsive, there will be those to whom his overt racism appeals, as well as those who have yet to develop the critical thinking skills necessary to pick his argument apart. Your article will function as a recruitment letter to these angry or impressionable souls. Is this really your intention? Let us not forget the University’s painful experiences with white supremacy in the early 1990s. Second, the matter-of-fact tone of your article creates the impression that race hatred is a normal and accepted part of the political and intellectual discourse of the university community. How chilling must this be to students of color at the University? Consider especially our many fine international students. What impression do they get about our community when racism is presented so casually? Living in a foreign culture can be difficult enough without having officially sanctioned racial intimidation thrown into the mix. By running this article without any sort of standard journalistic critique, Leininger’s views appear to be receiving official sanction. I have been told that this article was part of the Daily’s plan to profile all mayoral candidates who enter the race. Mentioning this policy in the framing of the article would have at least alerted readers to the fact that this man’s overtly racist views were being printed out of a sense of obligation rather than admiration. In addition, you ran this story about a “new party” without asking Leininger the single most obvious question for a third party candidate – What is the size of your party’s membership? If the candidate refuses to answer, then that is newsworthy. If the numbers are vague at best, it seems logical to mention this and to discuss the minimum requirements for party status on Minnesota ballots. This simple bit of reporting would have added a great deal of perspective to the story and would certainly not violate any standard of objectivity. Without this information, the headline might have been better as “U of Minnesota Janitor Makes First Mayoral Bid,” which brings up another pertinent detail that didn’t make it into print.

Stephen Young,
American studies,
doctoral student

Faith in reason

When Matt Brophy in his July 9 opinions column asserts we cannot know the nature of a higher power, he is in fact professing belief in yet another faith just as dogmatic as many others: a faith in a god that sits on Matt’s shoulders, a god that is as fallible as human reasoning and as inconstant as human whims and desires. Yet, it is wrong and inherently undignified for humans to suspend reason to believe in some religion. So do consider why the world’s fastest growing religion is growing not just by virtue of birth, but also from free conscious choice by many people, with college degrees even, who do use their heads without ending up worshipping it.

Arif Iftekhar,
biomedical engineering,
graduate student