Letters to the editor

Incendiary images

Defending the faith: See the words of the prophet

Editor, The Times:

I wonder what Prophet Muhammad would say about the reaction of some Muslims to the defilement of his being and message ["Danish embassy in Beirut latest target of cartoon fury," Times, News, Feb. 6, "Protests over cartoons spreading," News, Nov. 4, and "Muhammad cartoons bring protests, firings," News, Feb. 3].

He would ask them to meditate on the Quran. One verse says, "Do not let hatred of others toward you cause you to be unjust. Be just for this is closest to God consciousness." Another verse says, "Repel evil with something better so that he with whom you have enmity becomes your bosom friend."

To his followers who tended to overreact, he asked them to ponder on the insight: "We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." He reminded them that the character of a true human being was based on nothing more than graciousness and generosity.

I wonder what Islamic sages would say.

To a Muslim infuriated because a non-Muslim had criticized Islam, the 13th-century teacher Rumi explained that Islam was not bruised but his ego was. He continued, "If someone spits at the sky, does this stain the sky? In fact the spit returns to the person."

I wonder what I would say. Simply this: "That's nice, but this inner work is very inconvenient."

— Jamal Rahman, Muslim Sufi minister, Interfaith Community Church, Seattle

The vision fulfilled

American Muslims of Puget Sound unequivocally condemn the violence and hysteria generated among many Muslims around the world. While we recognize that the cartoons are in poor taste, grossly unjust and blasphemous to Islam, Muhammad and Muslims, this should not be taken as an excuse to damage property and hurt people.

American Muslims of Puget Sound members believe that consumer boycotts against Denmark and other nations in response to misguided actions by some corporations show a lack and incoherence that can only stiffen resolve against Muslims.

Actions such as these by Muslims serve only to help portray Muslims and Islam in the meanest terms and do nothing to help promote the better image of Islam and Muslims that we try to live up to. The silence by Muslims of good will in the face of such actions, that we reject out of hand, creates an image of acquiescence that is as wrong as the actions themselves.

We call on all Muslims to do whatever they can to help condemn and control the violent reactions to the cartoons.

— Jeff Siddiqui, American Muslims of Puget Sound, Seattle

It is not written

I am surprised that a French newspaper printed the cartoons that so offended Muslims — I never expected to see such a beacon of light coming from France! It has been many years since the French have had something to teach Americans about freedom.

The subsequent protests, boycotts and flag-burning by Muslim peoples around the world are not laudable acts, but seem acceptable to our Western eyes — we view this as freedom of expression. However, it is the official reactions of the governments of Muslim states, such as Saudi Arabia and Syria, that I find telling.

Rather than lead their citizens into tolerance and understanding of the views and sensibilities of others, they are leading their people toward bigotry and intolerance of the views of others. What looks to us like freedom of expression is actually state-sponsored hatred and intolerance.

Where is the American free press hiding? They should be falling all over themselves to run these cartoons, to assert and affirm our culture's belief in freedom of expression and the separation of church and state! Who needs an oppressive government to limit free speech when the press is so hamstrung by political correctness that they run away from the truth!

— David Rogers, Redmond

Voice from the other side

The terrorists' latest triumph is in an unexpected form: the total suppression of free speech in the U.S. media in the case of the self-censorship of the Danish Muhammad cartoon.

Effective political satire is by definition always a case of "bad judgment" and always highly offensive. Think Swift, Hogarth, Twain.

Transgression is often the only way to get psychic work done. One way for the U.S. media to do something more than cloak its cowardice in a sanctimonious rhetoric of "tolerance" would be to reprint the steady stream of virulently anti-Semitic cartoons that are a staple of the Palestinian, Syrian and Iranian press.

It's a pity that radical Islamic fundamentalists can't take the bitter taste of their own vitriol, but they shouldn't be allowed to have it both ways.

In the end, free speech is the only way to shine the light of common day into the darkest recesses of the human mind and the meanest straits of the human spirit.

— Rick Roth, Seattle

Competency hearing

Fit in all capacities

I am writing [in response to] "Stand up for state's fragile citizens" [David Moody guest commentary, Jan. 31]. Mr. Moody is right in his criticism of SB 6215, the attorney general's proposal to shield state government "from lawsuits arising out of its own incompetence."

It is bad public policy to close the courthouse door to those injured by harmful practices, whether of the medical profession, corporate profiteering or governmental incompetence. The attorney general's bill would let state and local government off the hook and would set the stage for similar privilege-seeking by our corporate sector, always anxious for so-called "tort reform."

No, Mr. Moody's mistake was not in his characterization of the attorney general's bill, but in his misconception that my sponsorship of the bill indicates my support of it.

As the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I'm called upon to be the prime sponsor of bills that are requested by the attorney general or state agencies. By extending this courtesy, we ensure that the proposal will get a public hearing and due consideration, regardless of my personal views.

No, I haven't lost my marbles, folks. I'm just doing my job.

— Sen. Adam Kline, 37th Legislative District, Seattle

Warts and football

Someday our wince will numb

Always the frog
Never the prince,
Hello, Seattle
Try not to wince.

— Mo Gaud, Coupeville

Sleeping ugly

Now that the hype is gone, the Super Bowl is over and the hangovers in Pittsburgh have gone away, Steelers fans will wake up and unfortunately realize, they are still in Pittsburgh!

— Bruce Williams-Burden, Bellevue