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Letters to the Editor

The United States, not Iraqis, responsible for situation

Re: “No liberty is possible in theocracy,” by Victoria Bekiempis, Nov. 8.

This is in response to Victoria Bekiempis’ prosaic treatment of democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan. In her column, she disparages the citizens of those countries by advancing the specious claim that they lack the “maturity” to protect liberty with their newfound ability to vote. Let’s look past Bekiempis’ hubris toward the Iraqis and Afghans and dissect her glib generalizations.

Bekiempis’ diatribe against the installed democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan is based on the fact that their citizens fail to separate church and state – that is, they elected into office religious leaders and chose to govern themselves by religious laws. Is that the fault of the Iraqis and Afghans, or the United States?

When the United States invaded both of those countries, it encountered a population suffering from the effects of decades of war and sanctions. Such conditions are not traditionally conducive to receiving a liberal education. In fact, the literacy rate of Afghanistan is only 36 percent, and in Iraq only 40 percent. It’s not their fault; the Afghans and Iraqis are uneducated due to their living conditions, but this did not stop President Bush’s administration from thinking it would be a good idea to let them choose their leaders and laws, despite the fact that the majority of Iraqis and Afghans could not read a ballot.

If a child kills someone with a gun he found in his parents’ house, most blame the parents for negligence, not the child. The United States occupied this parental role, but Bekiempis chose to blame the child. America must come to realize that democracy is not the fix-all solution to the world’s problems. An Iraqi villager does not have the education or the available resources to understand secularism, liberty and the other modern virtues mentioned in Bekiempis’ piece; superstition is the only thing on which the villager can base his political decisions.

Take a good look at this nation. Americans have all the things the Iraqis and Afghans lack: access to education, a tradition of political awareness and so on. But don’t many Americans vote along the lines of Bekiempis’ criticisms? Despite America’s literacy rates, it has a great amount of people who would like to see this country run by the Ten Commandants. Bekiempis, your castigation is better directed at Americans than the Iraqis and Afghans.

Jim Flair is a senior majoring in anthropology.

Oracle wrong about Jennings/Buchanan race

Re: Editorial, “Recounts of votes are the last thing Florida wants,” Nov. 3.

In Sarasota County, there was a 13 percent undervote in the Christine Jennings/Vern Buchanan congressional race. This means that voters who participated in most of the available contests omitted voting in that particular contest – the hottest race in town. Many have since reported that while they voted in that race, their vote did not register in the final review tally or that the machine did not offer a choice in that race – certainly clear reasons to investigate.

On Monday, the editorial regarding the Sarasota recounts of votes said, “Florida doesn’t need, want or deserve this trouble.” You suggest that it would serve the state better if the vote count were accepted as is.

There has been too much acceptance of faulty voting processes in this country. According to Greg Palast, investigative reporter with the BBC who spoke at the University of Tampa in June, 3.6 million votes were deliberately uncounted in the United States in the 2004 general election. He said 700,000 absentee ballots were not counted.

He cited a situation in New Mexico in which Native Americans were disenfranchised. In a particular set of nine precincts, which included mostly Taos reservations, nine out of 10 voters failed to choose a president. They went to the polls to vote for the president and then … didn’t vote? Hispanic voters and soldiers also supposedly mailed in blank ballots, according to Palast. And yet America accepted these irregularities.

Election abuse in this country is rampant; a huge percentage of voters this month did not trust that their vote would ever be counted. Given this scenario, the Oracle seems to want to gloss over a situation that speaks to the heart of what democracy portends so that Americans look good and feel good? No, this situation ought to be closely investigated and not just by an overseas reporter.

Louise Raterman is a senior majoring in geography.

Political parties will not stop terrorism

Re: “Democrats will appease, not fight, terrorism,” by Victoria Bekiempis, Nov. 8.

Victoria Bekiempis joins the throngs of Americans who have been duped by the Bush administration into believing that only Republicans can save everyone from the latest monster in the world – that monster being terrorism.

The irony is Ms. Bekiempis is a history major, yet somehow it was lost on her that it was under the watch of the Republicans that America was attacked. It was also lost on her that terrorism was not a problem in Iraq before the United States arrived, but I suppose that fact does not matter anymore.

But let’s be real about this whole question of terrorism – no matter what any politician says, a lone terrorist who does not collaborate with someone else cannot be stopped because all of the United States’ defenses depend on them talking to other people so Americans can intercept information.

I am one of the few people in this country who sees the irony in a president and Republican congress that told American citizens to get back to their normal lives after Sept. 11 but increased their security. I am one of the few people ewho sees something wrong with the United States deciding who is in control in Iraq, rather than the Iraqi people. And no – I am not fooled by the puppet governmental elections in Iraq that America has set up to decide who would be the candidates. I am one of the few people who is willing to say that in the Middle East, it is not just Arabs who have done wrong, as Israel has just as much blood on their hands.

The irony of the fact that the United States once vehemently supported Saddam Hussein and now paints him as such a villain is not lost on me either. Furthermore, it is not lost on me that this same government that claims to be spreading freedom and protecting innocent people has somehow refused to enter the fray in Darfur, where entire villages are being wiped out at will while the world stays silent.

To put it plainly, neither Democrats nor Republicans will succeed any more or less against terrorists, except in providing catchphrases that sound good but do nothing at all. I am reminded of the 1980’s Nancy Reagan-led “Say No to Drugs” campaign. Here are a few more catchphrases that really mean nothing but sound good: “War on Drugs,” “No Child Left Behind,” and let’s not forget, “War on Terror.”

Ms. Bekiempis also forgets it was not terrorists who made Republicans lose – it was their losing touch with why they were elected in the first place. It was Republicans being too far to the right for people to feel comfortable, not to mention a million scandals. The biggest irony of all is that Republicans are supposed to be the party of the religious right. If this is what the religious right is all about, thank God I went wrong.

John Ireland Gordon is a graduate student in adult education.