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Thank you, Rebecca Schoenkopf, for your honest rant (Commie Girl, Sept. 21). The sudden emergence of patriotism disgusts me. The greatest tragedy is how unconscious we've been. Terrorism is happening every day in many parts of the world, not just America. Patriotism is at the root of why we all don't get along. Why not cry for the rest of humankind, as we are all one world? Flying a flag won't do anything for humanity. We can only do something through our actions. When do we stop seeing a person as American, Christian, Muslim, white, black, Asian, Hispanic, Indian or gay and instead as a human being? People can talk about love, peace and unity, but if we don't see examples, it means shit. Instead of chanting, "USA! USA!" people should be chanting, "HUMANITY! HUMANITY!"

Name withheld by request


Jim Washburn's subtle manipulation of Christian doctrine ("What Would Jesus Do?" Sept. 21) for his own political argument is as cynical as our president's. In Jesus' day, masters would strike their servants exclusively with their left hands, effectively reinforcing the indignity. When we show an oppressor our left cheek, it forces him to use his right hand, making human equality explicit. That is the message: if you're going to strike me, proceed as if we are equal and at your own risk.

Christianity does not compel us to abandon self-defense and earthly justice. I have heard so much about how we have contributed to this monster, and I mostly agree. However, none of this excuses the attacks of Sept. 11. We can either (a) do nothing, which will be perceived only as fatal weakness by bin Laden, irresponsibly keeping ourselves and children at risk; (b) somehow bring those responsible before the World Court, which would inevitably place the Western world hostage until their release; or (c) do our best to eliminate this threat to our very existence with as little innocent suffering as possible.

War is a tough moral decision, not one to be determined by ideology. If Bush has succumbed to a Machiavellian subordination of spirituality to politics, so have you.

Neil Sholander
Huntington Beach

Jim Washburn responds: Thanks. Now explain for me what Jesus meant when he said, "You've got squirrels for brains, Neil." You must be reading from that "special" Bible, the one in which Christ snaps his cross in two and beats the Romans to a pulp with it.

I have written to Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, CBN and Fox Network regarding their obscene statements about the causes of the horrible suicide bombings in New York and Washington, D.C. The apology by Falwell was nothing more than a statement of "poor timing" rather than a true apology. Washburn's accurate depiction of Bush's reference to Jesus as his favorite philosopher brought out the fact that all of his actions are totally contrary to the teachings of Jesus. The hypocrisy of those who claim to be born again (obviously something went wrong the first time) or who rephrase the teachings of Jesus (or Mohammed) to fit their agenda seems to closely resemble the Antichrist image.

Tom Hamman
Huntington Beach

Once again, Washburn has had the courage to speak the truth. In addition to the scripture he quoted to show how our president is sorely out of synch with his professed favorite philosopher, I add: "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?" What holds for an individual holds for a nation. We are the wealthiest country in the world with the greatest military might, but where is our soul if we are once again all too ready to slaughter innocents in our name?

Heidi Nye
Long Beach

A person with moral values and a conscience has no need to ask what Jesus would do. A person not possessing those qualities couldn't begin to formulate an answer.

Niel Johnson
Laguna Hills

Washburn's article ("No Shelter," Sept. 14) forgets perhaps the most important consideration about the Middle East, namely that the princes and royal families of the oil-rich Arab countries (such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE) take a shit in toilet bowls with golden handles, drive fleets of Mercedes sports cars, and have harems of Western women. Meanwhile, their "Muslim brothers"—among whom are the Palestinians—live in squalor and can barely feed their children. Do not let anyone tell you that Muslims should be attacking the West on account of economic totalitarianism. The totalitarianism is among themselves.

Renald Iacovelli
via e-mail

Washburn asked readers the rhetorical question: "Why at this tragic moment would I even think of writing an article critical of our country?" Allow me to answer. Walking down a crowded, busy city sidewalk, without any warning or reason, you are shoved to the ground from behind by a total stranger. The stranger turns and runs. One onlooker may put a hand on your shoulder and ask, "How can such a thing happen?"—blaming the incident on an absence of police. Another onlooker checks to make sure you're okay and then quickly turns and runs after your attacker, not stopping until he catches the perpetrator. Washburn, you are not the latter! Therefore, this is what enables you to be critical of our country at this "tragic moment." Fortunately for the cities of New York and Washington, D.C., and the entire country, you and your "spectator mentality" are not the majority. However, you will continue to benefit from those who are willing to die for your freedom to print such an article.

Dan Horchover
Laguna Hills Washburn responds: Hey, Dan, here's a third scenario. My Uncle Sam knew the guy who knocked me down and had dealings with him in the past. But you, without questioning what the hell my Uncle Sam was up to, chase the perpetrator into a crowd and mow people down trying to get to him. But this is stupid: neither your analogy nor mine bears comparison to the horror perpetrated upon the United States this month. I'd be spending more of my column space expressing outrage over the terrorists, too, if nearly 100 percent of the press weren't already doing that and not asking the difficult questions of our government—questions that might reduce the risk of such terror happening again.
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