Scratch My Itch

Week of November 7, 2001

The Big Chill
Hollow Shell of the Midwest: The letter published in the Oct. 31 issue contains a letter from a Washington University student who expresses concern about the university's purchase of off-campus apartment buildings. The student requested that his name be withheld. Something is very wrong here. What sort of university intimidates its students so that they fear to criticize it publicly? The sort of university which promulgates "guidelines for media" like those Wash. U. recently announced: No reporter is permitted on campus without permission, and no student, faculty or staff member can talk to a reporter without a member of the university's "press police" present. Is this happening in America? A university becomes a hollow shell if students and faculty are afraid, or need permission, to exercise their rights of freedom of speech and of the press.

"Name witheld'" called Washington University "liberal," but "police state" is closer to the mark. Maybe a left-wing police state, but no less a police state. Fear is contagious. Please withhold my name, too. (You may indicate that I am a Wash. U. faculty member, but, please, not my department.)
Name withheld by request

Sept. 11
Having it both ways: What would Bill Ramsey tell a woman who was raped or a child who was molested [Safir Ahmed, "Cleaning House," Oct. 10]? Would he tell them it was their fault? What about the abortion doctor who is murdered or assaulted by some religious fanatic? Do we tell their loved ones they shouldn't have performed abortions?

On one hand, Ramsey says a reason "they" hate us is because we support repressive regimes, but on the other, "they" hate us because "they" live in poverty because we have embargoes and no normalized relations with these same repressive regimes. What the hell does Ramsey want the U.S. to do? Both he and Muslim fanatics can't have it both ways.

There is no one policy to blame, for there is no "reason" for hatred, murder or violence. We do not tell the people who died in the Holocaust to blame the French and the Treaty of Versailles; we do not tell blacks who suffered violence under Jim Crow and the KKK to blame Reconstruction. The attacks on Sept. 11 happened because the Islamic world, like Nazi Germany, is being seduced by a vile doctrine of violence and hate, and the people of the U.S., Israel, India, Europe, Polynesia and elsewhere are not to blame -- Muslims carrying box cutters are. Anyone who doesn't realize that has his head in the sand.
Tony McMillan
Millstadt, Ill.

Thanks for the alternative: I want to say how very much I appreciated the excellent quality of reporting and coverage of the various peace-protest activities taking place in St. Louis ["Is It Safe Yet?" Oct. 10]. Especially well done was the article interviewing Bill Ramsey and highlighting his work, both in the past and at this time. Your paper is such a welcome addition to the journalism scene here, as it dares to present another view, alternative to the usual canned one being offered to the public.
Marjorie Wisor
via the Internet

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