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Letters 8/6/10

- August 6th, 2010
Defining Islam
I was dismayed to read Bob Jones’s letter to the Northern Express
(8/30) which was full of half-witted half-truths and outright
In spite of what Jones might have to say, Islam is not defined by its
extremes any more than Christianity is defined by the Inquisition or
Serbian militias or the Olympic Park bomber. And Islam as practiced is
no more defined by the right wing’s quote-mined Koran than
Christianity or Judaism is defined by selective quotes from the Bible.
(Stoned any crop rotators or polyester-blend wearers to death lately?
Have you noticed how few professed followers of Jesus sell all their
goods and give the proceeds to the poor as he recommends?)
Followers of Islam are defined by their practice, and the vast
majority in this country are law-abiding people who appreciate the
freedom and opportunity this country affords them. They deserve to be
left alone to do as they please in their religious life within the
law, as our forefathers spelled out. And if that means acquiring space
for a mosque a couple blocks from Ground Zero alongside the porn shops
and fast food joints that are already there, they have a right to do
that too -- without interference from the government or gap-tooth,
values-challenged yokels fixin’ on gettin’ rid of anybody diffrint.
Jesus, Allah, Jefferson, Adam Smith and/or [insert providential figure
of your choice here] be praised.
What we ought to be worried about is not Islam’s purported war with
Christianity, but Mr. Jones’s war with reality and with the
fundamental religious and economic freedoms that make this country
great. Just ask a recent immigrant if you need convincing.
If there is one legitimate complaint about mainstream Islam in this
country it is that it sometimes seems slow to condemn those who preach
hatred, so let those of us who are native-born Americans set an
example and respond appropriately to Mr. Jones: with an ounce of shame
and a pound of contempt.

Oran Kelley • TC

Nasty attack
This past glorious weekend, with its perfect skies and great
temperatures, saw our family taking a mini-vacation in the Traverse
City area. On Sunday we visited Sleeping Bear Dunes and were
mesmerized by the beauty of Glen Lake from atop the climbing dunes.
This day was perfect -- perfect that is until we arrived back at the
motel in TC, picked up the current Northern Express and read the nasty
attack on the Arab world by one terribly hateful Glen Arbor resident!
With all this wonderful stuff we’d seen around Glen Lake, it is just
so sad that there’s this person spewing forth such racist venom. The
bad taste his article left by no means cancelled the beauty we’d seen
Sunday, but it did somewhat sour a near perfect day to realize that
such mean-spirited people exist - even up here amongst all this

Bob Pritele • Cheboygan

Us & them
This letter responds to a portion of the letter Bob Jones wrote in
response to the Tuttle editorial on the possibility of an Islamic
Cultural Center being built in the neighborhood of Ground Zero.
Yes, there is a war by some Muslims on some Christians in some parts
of the world. The cultural, historical, economic, and political issues
that surround these issues are complex and not universal. Therefore,
to universalize any “Islamic” attitude towards Christians, or
Americans, is erroneous. Mr. Jones states that “Moderate Muslims are
dangerous to a free society because they are devoted to Islam first
and everyone else second-they would die for Islam before they would
die for America.” Christianity teaches devotion to Christ “first and
everyone else second” and I would “die for” Christianity before I
would die for America. Indeed, allegiance to God over and above
allegiance to nation is called for in the first of the Ten
Mr. Jones expresses concern about Muslim people being unwilling to
“conform to our American way of life.” Quite frankly, it concerns me
that so many American Christians have conformed to an “American way of
life” based on greed, consumption, and competition more than they
conform to the will and ways of Christ. This kind of “American way of
life” often does not conform to a Christian way of life and to make
the two synonymous leads to blind nationalism and watered down faith.
I am a proud American who recognizes the struggles of living in a
“free society.” It means that everything does not always go my way and
that I have to deal with realities that challenge, disturb, and even
create fear in me. This is “our American way of life” and for all its
challenges and shortcomings, I think it’s a pretty good way of life
and I am willing to take the good with the bad and not let my personal
opinions and fears interfere with the civil rights of others.

Rev. Dr. Robin L. Long
Maple City
Mixed message
I wonder sometimes if the editors read what others are writing in the Express?
Stephan Tuttle took everyone to task who disagreed to the construction
of a mosque near the area where America was attacked. He used words
like “rights” and “freedom of religion” and “the Constitution“ in
pointing out the error of their ways or opinion, and he does indeed
have valid points.
Then you sir (Robert Downes), print out an editorial that calls to
question a group of U.S. citizens “rights” and “freedoms” also found
in the Constitution, and allude to them perhaps “spraying bullets
around a downtown street packed with festival goers” because they want
to show their rights by wearing a side arm in the open.
So are we picking and choosing what parts of the Constitution we wish
to actually enforce? The builders of a mosque have the right to build
while citizens do not have the right in either the U.S. constitution
or in the Michigan Constitution to keep and bear arms?
Maybe what both the mosque builders and those who wish to show their
rights by carrying a weapon in the open should do is stop and think.
Just because you have the “right” to do something doesn’t mean it is
the right thing to do.

Don MacIntyre • Interlochen

Judgment call
On Tuesday, November 2, Grand Traverse, Antrim and Leelanau County
voters are being charged with electing a new District Court Judge to
replace the retiring Honorable John Foresman. The winner of this
election, will most likely sit at the bench passing judgment on our
tri-county citizens for many years to come.
Of the two candidates, one has an established political track record
as an extremely conservative Republican. That would be Mr.
Elsenheimer, the state representative from Antrim, Charlevoix,
Cheboygan and Otsego counties. He has never represented the people of
either Grand Traverse or Leelanau County.
A visit to Mr. Elsenheimer’s legislative website reveals an almost
mean-spirited and biased agenda against the poor and the dependent,
yet strongly supportive of the privileged. Say what he will, in this
non-partisan election, his bias and capacity to fairly judge all
people has to be suspect.
That said, Kevin is a decent, personable guy. His role as a
conservative legislator has given him a solid and vigorous voice to
his constituents. That role, however, is not a validating background
for judgeship. Judges are supposed to be non-partisan and neutral.
There is no escaping his record.
The other candidate, Mike Stepka, has spent the past 20-plus years
practicing in the 86th. As a lawyer and politician, he is a moderate
county commissioner, sits on many local boards and is noted for his
pro bono service.
The District Court is often called the People’s Court. Of the two
candidates, Mike would truly be the People’s Judge.

Bill Brown • TC

A dose of humor
I don’t understand these rants and raves from Express readers about
content. Brigita Gumsey, if you have an issue with the content in the
Express, i.e., the Wine Rack, please put down your FREE publication of
the Express and buy a Washington Post.
I read the Express for, 1. Alternative takes on the news, 2. Things to
do in Northern Michigan, 3. A little humor amidst the often somber
news reports.
So the editor feels like the Wine Rack is clever. I do too! But for
people to get angry over a product that’s just plain amusing and to
suggest beer sacks? Come on people, that’s just crude, unrealistic,
and negative. I love and wish to keep Northern Express a little risque
if I may; it keeps it interesting. Thank you NE!

Adrian Hirsch • TC

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