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November 08, 2010

How Dare You?

Your editorial “Israel’s Choice” (10/18) is a classic example of your bias. Negotiating means give-and-take on both sides. Placing exclusive blame for the possible breakdown of peace negotiations between Palestinians and Israel on the building of settlements in the West Bank ignores the fact that the talks are for negotiations, not a forum for blame. When Israel offered a restart on the partial settlement freeze if Palestinians would recognize Israel as a Jewish state, that was rejected before the ink was dry. Instead of mentioning Israel’s right to exist in your editorial, you accuse Israel of establishing a system of apartheid (a shameful accusation), and you had the further audacity to, in effect, warn Israel that it should make a deal now or risk its very existence as a Jewish state.

Peter A. Martosella Jr.

Amber, Pa.

Too Rational

I congratulate Professor Wilber (“Awa-kening the Giant,” 10/18) for a sensible and generally nonideological approach to a subject that few Americans really understand: the deficit. And because it is sensible, rational and non-ideological—Richard Nixon could have signed off on this as a memo in 1970—it will have no purchase in Washington, D.C., which has been taken over by ideologues and screwballs of all flavors, left and right.

Richard J. Salvucci

San Antonio, Tex.

Another Civil War Coming

Certainly it is easy to agree with Charles Wilber’s assertion, in “Awakening the Giant” (10/18), that “the times…demand real political leadership” in dealing with our current economic plight. He ignores, however, the larger reality that our two-party system is in gridlock over the issues of economic stimulus, the federal deficit and tax rates just as the American political system was paralyzed by the controversy over slavery in the 1850s. Lest we forget, that issue was not resolved by the political process, but rather by a bloody internecine war, however much Ken Burns and modern-day Americans surround that tragedy with patriotic gore.

Given that deficit hawks and doves are divided more by class than by geographic region, chances of a second civil war are reduced. However, voter apathy, widespread ignorance of even the most basic economic principles, and growing tolerance for intolerance offer prospects almost as bleak as those facing the Union in 1861.

The resultant gridlock portends continued American economic decline, the exacerbation of class and social tensions and the continued attraction of delusional military adventurism and xenophobia to divert attention from our underlying problems. Wilber’s ideas make perfect sense in introductory macroeconomics; but alas, most Americans are neither interested in nor capable of grasping these ideas.

Paul Loatman Jr.

Mechanicville, N. Y.

Not Only Natural

Your current comment “The Right to Breastfeed” (10/18) reminds me that human milk is designed by our Creator for humans. Therefore, feeding human babies is not only natural, but also right, true and faithful. We are confused about the “rights” of women to nurse in public. It is the baby who has the right to eat when hungry. If the best food is available and free of cost, it is outrageous that society would make it difficult for the baby to receive it. Sometimes the feeding is difficult, but the difficulties will pale in comparison with later assisting the child with middle school math.

Colleen McCahill

Baltimore, Md.

Thank Heaven

A sorry world it is when drive-thru meals and artificial foods build a group of children for whom obesity is going to be a lifelong health challenge. Wonder what’s on the menu in Johnny Rocket’s Restaurant? All over the world children are nourished by their mother’s milk. Thank heaven for breast milk. Perfect for babies.

Sheila Durkin Dierks

Boulder, Colo.

‘I Don’t Get It!’

I wish to add another word on your current comment “The New Mass” (10/4). In 1 Timothy we are told: “God our savior…wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race. Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as ransom for all.”

And one of the propositions of Cornelis Jansen that was condemned by Pope Innocent X in 1653 was Jansen’s statement “it is Semi-Pelagian [i.e. heretical] to say that Christ died or shed his blood for all men without exception.” Yet now I am told that as of Advent 2011, the priest is no longer to say that Christ died “for all,” but “for many.”

I don’t get it.

Thomas L. Sheridan, S.J.

Jersey City, N.J.

Forgive, But...

After reading “Guantanamo Pilgrimage” (10/25), I suggest that before the author, Luke Hansen, S.J., starts his “relationship” with Guantánamo detainees, he should sit down and have a heart-to-heart with Salah Sultan, who has joyfully proclaimed on television in the Islamic world that they will soon bring death and destruction to the United States. It is unforgivable that the United States befriends Israel, Sultan argues; and, as a result of that friendship, we deserve destruction. This is common rhetoric in the Islamic world.

There was also the dear nurse at Guantánamo who daily treated a detainee for his injuries from the battlefield, only to have her head grabbed and her face smashed into the wall on her way out of the room. I do believe in turning the other cheek and being my brother’s keeper. But this is to be done with eyes wide open and not crawling in with “Mea culpa.”

Ruth Burr

Rochester, Minn.

Famous Last Words

Re “Independence Vote Could Reignite Civil War” (Signs of the Times, 10/25): Bishop Paride Taban’s reference to a possible Islamic government’s “continued oppression of the ethnic and religious minorities” of Southern Sudan, brought back bad memories.

The same is true of his reminder at the University of Notre Dame last October that “the people of the South are beating day and night the drum of secession and independence.” This reminded me of the terrible years of persecution, torture and murders suffered by the animists and Christians of South Sudan and by the people of the Diocese of Torit.

In the late 1980s I was serving in Rome as Vatican director of the documentation, information and press office of Caritas Internationalis. I shall never forget the three-line telex that Bishop Taban probably expected to be his last message to us at Caritas: “God reward you for trying to help us. Now pray God will grant us a happy death.”

Larry N. Lorenzoni, S.D.B.

San Francisco, Calif.

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