Is a U.S. life more valuable?
To the Daily:
Do the lives of U.S. citizens outweigh the lives of others? This is the message that you send your readers with the article “American killed in action” (11/29/01).
While the deaths of thousands of Taliban and anti-Taliban Arabs have been described as “heavy fighting,” “more airstrikes” and a “crushed” prison uprising outside Mazar-e-Sharif, the death of one American is displayed in a front page article including numerous details about his family, occupation, cause of death, and even the trajectory of his now lifeless body “en route to the United States.”
I grieve for Johnny Michael Spann just as I grieve for the thousands of nameless Afghanistans, Pakistanis and Chechens dying in air strikes, forced warfare, and refugee camps. But when you highlight the death of one American in vivid detail on the top of your front page you implicitly tell your readers that his life is more important than the lives of Arabs. This includes the 500 prisoners “apparently killed during intense U.S. airstrikes” in the continuation of this same article on page 7A.
Where is the detail of these people”s lives and families? Why weren”t they on your front page? The genuine concern for global understanding and humanitarian causes expressed in your editorials is poorly reflected in the Daily”s coverage of the war in Afganistan. I ask that in the weeks to come the Daily gathers details on these 500 dead prisoners and put them on top of the front page. I ask that the Daily do the same for Arabs killed fighting for and against the Taliban, and for those dying in refugee camps. Please show your readers that all lives are important, Americans and Arabs included.
Fuller”s viewpoint flawed, Americans largely ignorant
To the Daily:
Barry Fuller”s viewpoint on 11/29 (“It”s too bad Syed was attacked, but if he hates U.S., then leave”) is fundamentally flawed because he asks readers to treat citizens and noncitizens differently in terms of their First Amendment right to expression. Not even the conservative U.S. Supreme Court sanctions such an application of the Bill of Rights.
To imply that Syed”s grievances should be subject to stricter scrutiny because he is here on a student visa from Karachi instead of say, born and bred in Kalamazoo, runs against the deep-rooted notion of civil liberties that makes this, as Fuller points out, the best country on the planet.
Syed is right, this country”s citizenry is often ignorant of what happens across the oceans. While this ignorance did not “cause” the Sept. 11 tragedies, I for one, cannot help but be slightly embarrassed at the level of discourse found on cable these days.
If America is indeed going to remain as the world”s standard bearer of democracy, it cannot be so oblivious to the four billion inhabitants outside of the first world (that make its clothes, buy its widgets and consume its Happy Meals).
While Syed is caustic, I applaud him for his candor in voicing his frustration and very legitimate objections to life as usual in America.
Americans not all that ignorant
To the Daily:
I really want to thank Waj Syed for his article (“Ignorance on the Union Steps,” 11/28/01). I am truly glad he was able to inform me that “America is ignorant. So are most Americans,” because of course, as an American, I am ignorant and hence unable to come to such insightful conclusions.
I want to say here that what happened to Syed was horrible, it is tragic and cannot be accepted. But this incident is subsequently used as a springboard to attack Americans. Examples are used to lend credence to the idea that Americans are ill-informed. The first example is of the reporter that didn”t know where Pakistan is. Instead of lambasting this, I would applaud the fact that local media is becoming interested in questions of racial profiling.
About the cop who didn”t know the nationality term for Pakistan, I would suggest that it is impossible to be perfectly informed. Little test: What”s the proper term for the nationality of a randomly chosen nation, say Lesotho?
About the student who talked with Syed, I think that we should look at the fact that this guy cared enough to ask how he was doing. When saying that Iran is far from Pakistan, he could have meant that ideologically secular military junta-theocracy or religiously, Sunni-Shia or many other examples too numerous to name.
I can hear people saying, “but that”s not what he meant, he wouldn”t be thinking of stuff like that.” Those who say this have already come to the conclusion that Americans don”t know about the world, and their arguments are premised on this. It is dishonest to evaluate something based on the way one thinks it is, and not how it really is.
Finally, I want to reiterate that what this obviously disturbed man did was wrong, but it is wrong to take from his ignorance and hatred a questioning of all Americans. It is wrong to discredit an entire group, be it Americans or Muslims, for the unwarranted actions of a small minority.
By the way, the answer is Mosotho (pl. Basotho).
Butler”s cartoon not offensive to this Roman Catholic
To the Daily:
I feel that I must express some corrections to one of yesterday”s Letters to the Editor.
On Nov. 29 2001, Joe Mueller”s letter “Butler”s cartoon offensive, taken from Monty Python” states several things that I disagree with, but I will only focus on one. He stated that the cartoon “…was also insulting to the beliefs and theology of the Catholic church, that is to say all those who consider themselves Catholic.
Well thank you for speaking on my behalf Mr. Mueller, but you got it wrong. I am a Roman Catholic and I am not insulted one bit by Butler”s cartoon.
In fact, it made me crack a little smile. So before you start to complain and raise issues on behalf of all Catholics, or any minority group for that matter, think about what you are doing.
I seriously doubt that all Catholics share your opinion on every issue and therefore you do not have the right to assume that the opinions of each and every one of us are the same as yours.