Safire in the rough
I was fascinated by the article "Straight Shooters" that appeared in your Jan. 24 issue. However, I was jolted by your characterization that some of Reverend Michael Bray's explanations for his writings and speeches "would make a Palestinian terrorist proud."
Where did that cheap, offensive, throwaway reference come from? I won't even try to run you down on the facts behind the death and suffering inflicted on an untold number of Palestinians as a result of Israeli government policies. The hundreds killed just over the last few months should refresh your memory. The legitimacy of Palestinian national self-determination has international recognition, with the notable exception of some elements of our own society, thanks in part to the resilience of reactionary anti-Arab stereotypes in our media. I'm afraid we can now count The Independent in this category of publications that stoops to perpetuate these racist images. I thought The Independent was a progressive voice in our community, an alternative to hackneyed mainstream views of our world. Instead I'm finding journalism here that would make William Safire proud.
--JIM YAMIN, DURHAM
John Yewell's otherwise excellent article about the White Rose Banquet [Jan. 24] was marred by the comparison he drew between the "theological edifice" of this Christian group advocating violence against abortion clinics and that of "Palestinian terrorists."
To use the term "Palestinian terrorist" is to place a large number of different people and groups subscribing to a variety of ideologies and employing a diversity of tactics to achieve their goals into a single one-dimensional category. Many people who are considered "Palestinian terrorists" justify the use of violence with religious convictions. Many, however, do not.
Substantial differences exist between groups like the Army of God, which interpret Christian doctrine to justify the violent imposition of their principles on the behavior of others, and Palestinians who draw strength from their faith to struggle, sometimes violently, to end the occupation of their country.
Using Arabs generally, and Palestinians in particular, to represent violence and religious fanaticism contributes to the cultural misunderstandings perpetuated by the mainstream media in this country. I expect more from The Independent than what appears to be a thoughtless resort to sensationalist analogy to make a point.
--HADLEY ROSS, DURHAM