Week of October 17, 2001

Oct 17, 2001 at 4:00 am
Blame Game
Bad history: As an Arab-American, I was very disappointed to see Safir Ahmed swallow whole the line of the rejectionists and hard-liners in both the Arab world and here in St. Louis ["Cleaning House," Oct. 10]. People who continually complain that our country blindly supports whatever Israel does have very short and selective memories.

Before the current "intifada" began, the Clinton administration did its best to arrange a negotiated settlement between PLO Chairman [Yassir] Arafat and Prime Minister [Ehud] Barak of Israel. According to everything that has been written and said about these negotiations, Barak offered Arafat 90 percent of what the PLO has been asking for in terms of land, national sovereignty and so on.

While no one who wasn't privy to the negotiations knows the details of what happened next, Arafat rejected Barak's offer, and the current "intifada" began. This "intifada" has been characterized by Palestinian suicide bombings, usually directed at civilian targets inside Israel proper, and by massive retaliation by the Israeli Army. Both the Palestinian suicide bombers and the heavy-handed Israeli responses are wrong and undermine efforts to find a mutually acceptable peace. To say that our country has done nothing to promote a peaceful solution is not only bad history but probably malevolent as well. As it is, many people in the Islamic world want to think only the worst about the United States.

The Riverfront Times owes its readers something better.
Bashir Shukary
St. Louis

Please buy KDNL: Safir Ahmed's article is the most cogent and insightful response to the Sept. 11 attacks I have read. I especially admire and respect the remarks of Bill Ramsey, whom Ahmed interviewed. The U.S. is despised by many around the world because our government has done -- and continues to do -- a lot of bad things to a lot of people. Fortunately, most of those we offend are neither despicable nor hateful enough to hijack airplanes and crash them into buildings or cowardly enough to explode bombs near innocent civilians (most people who hate America also hate terrorism). We do need to reevaluate our actions and policies around the world, not because we should be afraid of more terrorist attacks but because it is the right thing to do. Thank you for publishing an article expressing unpopular truths and opinions. Would the Riverfront Times consider buying KDNL-TV (Channel 30) so I can watch Politically Incorrect again?
Robin Stone
St. Louis

Arabs get what they deserve: I found Safir Ahmed's article interesting, but I do not agree with some of the conclusions. You act as if Muslims' being resented is unfair, yet you fail to see that Muslims' resenting America is equally unfair and the reasons are all wrong. America does not deserve to be attacked by terrorists or by fundamentalist Muslims.

Palestinians' throwing rocks and killing innocent Israelis is pretty lousy public relations. Why can't Palestinians learn to live in peace in Israel? The day Israel became independent, seven Arab countries attacked that country and tried to push it into the sea. The Arab people are to be blamed, and they cannot erase history. I hear too much propaganda about the poor Palestinians, but I know that Arab leaders are pulling the strings, building up hatred toward Israel and America. And they will get what they deserve. Israel was created by the United Nations, and everyone agreed to it, except for the Arab nations who hate Israelis and Jews.

I suggest Arabs, Palestinians and Muslims start cleaning their own house and blame their own house for why nobody wants to live there. They can blame the United States all day long for their problems, but it still won't make it true.
Name withheld by request

Seeing the big picture: After I read the article "Cleaning House" by Safir Ahmed, I immediately shared the Web site with my family and friends. It is the best article that I have read since the unfortunate terrorist attacks. This article is educational and challenges the readers to observe the whole picture and not just focus on ourselves.
Tammy Wright
St. Louis

A balanced critique would have been nice: I was disappointed in Bill Ramsey's one-sided finger-pointing. He seems to want to blame the U.S. and Britain exclusively for the effects that sanctions have had upon the civilian population of Iraq. I seem to remember an article about how northern Iraq, which is not under the control of Saddam Hussein, does not have the same problems as areas controlled by Saddam. It would be nice to have seen Ramsey offer up a more balanced critique of the U.S. instead of acting like the "American government and American corporations" of which he is so critical.
Doyt Ladd
St. Louis

Why did you keep so quiet? After reading Safir Ahmed's article, I was saddened and extremely disappointed because American Muslims and Arabs failed in helping their fellow Americans see what was going on. Where were the loud rallying cries and the marches on Washington? Where were the fundraisers to help the poor in these countries, the 600,000 babies you speak about? I heard no call from the Muslim and Arab community about what their U.S. government was doing to people in the Middle East. Safir, where was your voice? You are part of the media. Why didn't you get the word out before it was too late? You all could have saved many lives if you were as passionate about the issue as the assassins were on Sept 11. Why did you keep so quiet? The people you interviewed are right -- now is not a good time to speak out. Sept. 10 or before was, but I heard not a peep.
Stephanie Stuppy
via the Internet

Satan's Minion
I'm not buying it: Monsanto, the Best Corporation in St. Louis ["Best of St. Louis," Sept. 26]? If Satan set up headquarters in St. Louis, I suspect that the Riverfront Times would encourage us to pledge allegiance to Satan for so generously giving us jobs. I used to live in Times Beach. I'm not buying it.
Colleen McKee
University City

Ray of Light
A real hometown boy! After reading Ray Hartmann's editorials for years and watching him perform on Donnybrook [KETC-TV (Channel 9)], I suggest Ray move back into the city of St. Louis and run for mayor. Down through the years, Ray has had the answer to every problem the city has had, so why shouldn't he come back and save the city from disaster?

Oh, I forgot -- he fled the city so he couldn't get involved. A real hometown boy!
Bill Bandle

When Pain Begins
Where'd he get his facts? Josh Martin's letter [Sept. 12] claims that two pro-life doctors, K.J. Anand and P.R. Hickey, did research to prove that fetuses feel pain and ending up proving that fetuses do not feel pain. I am curious where Martin got his data. I did a search on the Web and located the actual article presented to the New England Journal of Medicine. Nowhere in it do the doctors say they are pro-life, and the intent of the research was to ascertain if fetuses should be given anesthetic agents during surgery.

The conclusion of the submitted article only states that pain pathways and cortical centers needed for pain perception are well developed late in gestation. It does not state at what age pain can be felt. However, another article that turned up in my search indicated that fetal awareness in observed as early as the eighth week of gestation. Also, anencephalic babies with no higher brain but with a brainstem do respond to pain stimuli.

So much for no pain in an infant.
Larry Chambers
via the Internet