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Letters to the Editor for Wednesday, June 22, 2005

By STARS AND STRIPES | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 22, 2005

European and Mideast editions

(EDITOR’S NOTE: These are the letters that appeared in each edition of Stripes on this publication date. Click here to jump ahead to the Pacific edition letters)

‘Doonesbury’ vs. ‘Fillmore’

Many soldiers believe the left-leaning comic strip “Doonesbury” should not appear in Stars and Stripes. Some find Garry Trudeau’s confrontational humor offensive and even unpatriotic. If an overwhelming majority of soldiers agrees that “Doonesbury” should be removed, maybe it should.

While they are at it, they should also remove the conservative-oriented “Mallard Fillmore” for being an outright lousy comic. Every day I read and enjoy Trudeau’s character- and plot-driven “Doonesbury.” Sometimes I even laugh out loud and, fearing my superiors may think I’m having too much fun, turn to “Mallard Fillmore” to quell my laughter. Bruce Tinsley’s simple and unsubtle humor sobers me up every time.

It’s not that I disagree with “Fillmore’s” politics (I do). It is his uncreative delivery that makes me question if he is really Rush Limbaugh’s 10-year-old child. While “Doonesbury” uses story lines, character development and dialogue to make humorous insights on American society, “Mallard Fillmore” uses one-dimensional characters proclaiming bland, unfunny insights on current events. I can’t recall how many times I’ve read a strip explaining “what liberals were like in the Stone Age,” followed by a caricature of a caveman saying something “liberal.” It is impossible to even take offense at such poorly crafted insults.

I am constantly amazed at the demands of censorship of the “Army of the free.” What other reason besides outright intolerance for others’ opinions could there be to remove “Doonesbury”? It obviously isn’t for Trudeau’s creative talents. If that were the case, “Family Circus” would have been banned years ago. “Doonesbury” haters should relax and remember that on the opposite page there is a really bad comic that is politically appeasing and so devoid of humor no one could possibly bother to demand censorship.

Spc. Matthew McLaughlin
Camp Liberty, Iraq

‘Doonesbury’ misinterpreted

I think the writer of “Rein in ‘Doonesbury’ this time” (letter, June 2) may be more right-wing than he admits.

I have read and reread the entire “Doonesbury” story regarding Alex thinking of joining the Army, and I fail to see how the writer finds it painting all Army recruiters as liars and all Army men as rapists.

The story actually dealt with recruiters struggling to sign up new recruits, even going to the extreme of painting the family’s garage. The story also dealt with sexual assault within the Army, a very real subject in today’s military and the reason the character Alex decided not to join.

It did not, however, paint the military as liars and rapists, as the letter writer thinks. He tries to say he is not a member of the far right, however one would have to be one in order to find such nonsense in the comic strip, especially [a strip] that has time and time again shown only support for the troops.

I suspect the letter writer is just looking for ways to hate anything that exposes any negativity about the military. Perhaps Stars and Stripes should not print any more articles that show how recruiters are struggling to fill their quota, or that sexual assault is a reality in combat zones.

I also suspect he is more right wing than he thinks by his statement that the left opposes the war but says it supports the troops is a “flagrant lie.” Tell that to me and several other “left-wing” soldiers in my platoon here in Iraq. Tell that to our families who send us care packages. Tell that to all us Democrats or even non-“right-wing” soldiers here in Iraq.

With all due respect, perhaps the writer should stick with something easier to interpret and simple-minded, like the juvenile name-calling in “Mallard Fillmore.” And in typical right-wing style, since he doesn’t agree with the story in “Doonesbury,” let’s simply ban it.

Spc. James Dylan
Camp Anaconda, Iraq

Iraqis must fight for freedom

How does the current war in Iraq relate to the freedom of the Iraqi people? Well, simply put, it doesn’t.

I’m serving in Mosul, Iraq, so I’ve seen what the Iraqi people do with the American brand of freedom. When early Americans wanted freedom from English rule, they fought for it. When early Mexicans wanted their freedom from Spain, they fought for it. When early Scots wanted their freedom from the English, they fought for it. When blacks and other minorities wanted freedom from slavery and other racist policies, they fought for it.

Other than the Kurds in the north, who fought for the freedom of the Iraqi people? Yes, America did.

The Iraqis will not know what to do with freedom until they have to fight for it. You can’t just give it to them on a silver platter. America should be the helping hand of freedom, not the rock. The rock comes from the people seeking freedom.

Look at the situation in the country now. At best, it’s mild chaos. The Iraqi people don’t see us as liberators. We are occupiers. Liberators liberate and then leave. We seem to be having a problem with the latter. The Iraqi people may have hated Saddam, but they hate us more. That’s why my fellow soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines are dying.

There are two things they hate most in this part of the world. The first is Jews, and the second is the West. America is the poster child of the West. How can you liberate that? You can’t.

Staff Sgt. Kevin Washington
Mosul, Iraq

Morals vs. church influence

According to “Religion, politics do mix,” (letter, June 2), religion and politics do mix well together. Whether this is the case, or not (as I contend), the misleading and factual inaccuracies that the writer uses to prop his argument should be exposed for what they are: historical misrepresentations used to support an extremist view of how the United States should conduct domestic and foreign policy.

The assertion that President Bush stated God told him to invade Iraq is supported by statements made by the former Palestinian Prime Minister (now President) Mahmoud Abbas, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, in which he claims that Bush told him “God told me to strike al qaida then instructed me to attack Saddam.” This was indeed reported in 2003, and to my knowledge never disclaimed by Bush.

The assertion that a “moral component" is involved in running our government by dictating which programs merit funding, etc., is not disputed. However, the leap from this fact to suggesting that religions should have a significant voice in our great country’s policies is unsupported by our Constitution as well as the best historical records of our Founding Fathers’ intent.

Morality has been a factor in American civil-rights advancement and other important issues throughout our history, yet many Southern churches opposed civil rights for all Americans well into the 1960s. Morality can exist outside the confines of a specific religion, or church, regardless of where it was originally rooted.

Morality in government is what the United States should always strive for, but specific church influences should remain separate from the government and confined to the hearts and minds of their adherents.

Sgt. Nicholas Pulliam
Al Taqaddum, Iraq

Pacific edition

Hard lesson with seat belt

If you are pulled over by the military police, do not get out of your car; do not unfasten your seat belt. Just sit there and wait for the MP to approach your car. Trust me, it is what they want you to do and you will be better off for it.

Recently I was stopped on post. I had no idea why; I had done nothing wrong. I unhooked my seat belt and got out of the car and walked toward the MP vehicle. The MP told me to go back to my car and wait.

When he did come to my window, he informed me that he was going to cite me for not wearing my seat belt. This was not correct; I did have on a seat belt, but he could not clearly see through my back window if I was wearing it or not. I drive a convertible; the belt comes from below the back window and not down from the roof as in hard tops, therefore there is no telltale diagonal stripe from the roof line to my shoulder. Since the young man did not clearly see my seat belt, he honestly, but mistakenly, assumed that I was not wearing one and wrote me a ticket.

Now I am embroiled in a difficult process to prove my innocence and preserve my integrity. My mistake was taking the belt off and getting out of the car. Please, do not make this same mistake.

George S. Robinson
Heidelberg, Germany

Morals vs. church influence

According to “Religion, politics do mix,” (letter, June 3), religion and politics do mix well together. Whether this is the case, or not (as I contend), the misleading and factual inaccuracies that the writer uses to prop his argument should be exposed for what they are: historical misrepresentations used to support an extremist view of how the United States should conduct domestic and foreign policy.

The assertion that President Bush stated God told him to invade Iraq is supported by statements made by the former Palestinian Prime Minister (now President) Mahmoud Abbas, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, in which he claims that Bush told him “God told me to strike al qaida then instructed me to attack Saddam.” This was indeed reported in 2003, and to my knowledge never disclaimed by Bush.

The assertion that a “moral component" is involved in running our government by dictating which programs merit funding, etc., is not disputed. However, the leap from this fact to suggesting that religions should have a significant voice in our great country’s policies is unsupported by our Constitution as well as the best historical records of our Founding Fathers’ intent.

Morality has been a factor in American civil-rights advancement and other important issues throughout our history, yet many Southern churches opposed civil rights for all Americans well into the 1960s. Morality can exist outside the confines of a specific religion, or church, regardless of where it was originally rooted.

Morality in government is what the United States should always strive for, but specific church influences should remain separate from the government and confined to the hearts and minds of their adherents.

Sgt. Nicholas Pulliam
Al Taqaddum, Iraq

Car-buying scam?

Please be aware of a scam targeting the military community. I recently posted an advertisement to sell my 1996 Opal Astra station wagon on the Stars and Stripes free advertising page. Within the next few days I received 15 e-mails inquiring about the car. All the e-mails came from strange accounts and were very poorly written. They also indicated an overenthusiasm for the purchase, they could only work through a broker, and could only provide the funds via a check. After a little research, this turns out to be a scam. Basically, you are given a check and they get the car, but when you go to cash the check, there are no funds. They have the car and the title and you have no money. The military community is obviously being targeted because Stars and Stripes is the only place I posted the advertisement. Luckily, I did not fall for the scam, and still have the car for sale. Please be aware.

James Barnes
Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany


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