Have you read the Pope’s remarks at Regensburg? No, not his various apologies to irate Muslims, but rather the actual speech he delivered on Sept. 16 to a group of university faculty. I just did and, although I am not a religious philosopher like the Pope, it was clear to me that the address concerned not relations between Islam and Christianity but rather the historical development of the philosophical relationships among reason, religion and violence.
The only theological comparison in the speech is between Christianity and Hellenism, not Islam. The obscure quotation about Islam served as an illustration of the longevity of the debate over violence in religion: An ancient emperor (ca. 1400 C.E.) referred to Islam’s use of conversion by the sword in an argument that violence is irrational and should play no role in religious conduct. The Pope uses that argument as an historical backdrop for his contention that Hellenists and Christians shared an aversion to violence.
The Greeks argued that violence is irrational and counter to God’s nature and God’s demands of us. The Pope and Christianity agree. (So do the Jews, the Buddhists, the Hindus and most other religious peoples.) He made no value judgment of the emperor’s remark, using it merely to illustrate the endurance of the philosophical question. It is hard to believe that world Islam has transformed this passing academic reference into yet another object of furious discontent. I doubt that any of the complainers have read the speech or, if they have, that they have a clue as to what it means. We desperately need an academic who is a Muslim to stand up and say loudly to his co-religionists, “Hold on, guys; get a grip! You defame other religions every day in ways that are a thousand times worse than this academic reference to a 14th century emperor. Let’s save our breath to counter modern speakers who actually defame modern Islam. The way some of us behave, there will be plenty of them.”
The recent letter-writer (“There’s more to the numbers” Sierra Sun Sept. 18) must have missed the last five year of news reports when he wrote about Saddam Hussein and “that even they [Bush administration] now admit [Hussein] had nothing to do with 9/11.”
Neither President Bush nor anyone in his administration has ever tried to link Hussein directly to 9/11. That point has never been debatable to those of us who pay attention, letter writer, so please don’t try to ascribe fictitious quotes to the president or anyone else.-
What also isn’t debatable is that Saddam murdered at least 300,000 of his own people, many with poison gas WMD, that he invaded Iran and Kuwait in wars that cost 750,000 lives, that he tried to assassinate former President George H. W. Bush and that he bilked the world out of $10 billion through the corrupt UN oil-for-food program.
Based on this, I will take today’s Iraq, despite all of its problems, over Saddam’s Iraq any time. And I think the Iraqis themselves voiced the same opinion when 12 million of them ignored death threats to vote in their last national election.
I have set up a Web site where Tahoe Donner residents can post comments on any subject of mutual interest to our community and read and comment on the postings of others. It is called tdvoice.blogspot.com. I hope that this can create a dialog among Tahoe Donner owners that is not now available. We all probably know how we personally feel about the various TD issues but we have very little knowledge of how others feel. Maybe this Web site can help us all understand these important matters better. It is not intended to be simply a forum for complaints. Constructive criticism and suggestions are encouraged.
The letter to the editor (“Government dictating what children wear?” Sierra Sun Sept. 15) is so flawed, to call it a ridiculous screed would be kind. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a high school teacher. While I don’t have a strong opinion about school uniforms one way or the other, sloppy arguments, lazy thinking and cheap hyperbole chap my hide to no end.
The letter states that, “If governments own and operate the schools, and governments have no right to dictate to us subjects what clothing we wear…” Actually, local schools’ right to institute a mandatory school uniform is fairly well established. Check out Littlefield v. Forney Independent School District (2001) or Canady v. Bossier Parish School Board (2001).
The next fault is the use of a soft-skulled rhetorical device such as the one used in the second to last paragraph: “Obviously, the problem is that for four to seven generations, the U.S. subjects have allowed their government to control our schools and media…”
Of course that’s obviously the problem. Its SO glaringly obvious. You’re obviously a complete dunderhead if you didn’t pick up on this ridiculously obvious cause and effect relationship.
However, I suppose my biggest beef with the letter is that I don’t perceive any desire to seriously address the issue of school uniforms and how they might effect the quality of education in our community. Through the use of misinformation, cheap linguistic tricks, teen sex imagery and Nazi references, I think the letter writer’s motives are much more selfish. I would imagine he’s grown tired of shouting at the television and his motives are more along the line of a nice ego stroking when his letter gets published in the paper.
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