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Be aware of local conflicts
The interesting article in the Tribune of Dec. 20 concerning the Islamic feast of Eid al-Adha calls attention to one of the common historical elements in Islam, Judaism and Christianity.
Two of the author’s Muslim sources were the frequently quoted Janan Atiyeh and her husband, Marwan Ahmad. The elevation of such people to the position of local spokespersons for the religion requires further disclosure.
Several years ago, Marwan Ahmad had been dismissed from Phoenix Mayor Skip Rimza’s community relations board after many serious complaints against him, not only from the local Jewish community but also from moderate Muslims. The final straw, which broke the back of tolerance, was an incident shortly before his dismissal relating to a cartoon in Ahmad’s “Breek Publishing” newsletter, “The Muslim Voice.”
Ahmad had pictured a local, moderate Muslim, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, as a dog on the leash of a local newspaper which frequently printed Jasser’s articles. It should be noted that Breek Publishing shared an office at the time with the Council on American Islamic Relations, another frequent critic of Jasser. It was CAIR, Ahmad and many “Valley imams” who oppossed an April 25, 2004, Muslim rally against terrorism in Phoenix’s Patriot Park organized by Jasser and his American Forum for Democracy group.
Jasser’s articles usually criticized “Islamism,” i.e. the tendency to deny, excuse and to sometimes covertly, or openly, support Islamist terrorism. It is important that local media and the greater community are aware of the internal struggle for hearts, minds and leadership in the local Muslim community.
New technology, old idea
The Washington Post reported Dec. 22: “FBI Prepares Vast Database Of Biometrics, $1 Billion Project to Include Images of Irises and Faces.”
Would it not be simpler and more cost-effective to simply tattoo a bar code, as is used on consumer products, on everyone’s forehead, or to deeply implant an RFID chip as is done to identify lost pets? The tattoo method was demonstrated to be efficient and cost-effective approximately 70 years ago, and many people retain such “identification.” The RFID chip method has also reported success in identifying and returning lost pets to their owners.
CHURCH AND STATE
Never was official policy
I am writing about Dylan K. Robles’ Dec. 24 letter “Study Constitution some more,” and his view of the degree and meaning of the statement “separation of church and state.” Nowhere can the words “separation of church and state” be found in the First Amendment or in the U.S. Constitution. Unfortunately, this figure of speech is accepted by Robles, and the American Civil Liberties Union, as a pithy description of the constitutionally prescribed church–state arrangement, and it has become the sacred icon of a strict separationist dogma that champions a secular polity in which religious influences are systematically and coercively stripped from public life.
The phrase that in America there should be a “wall of separation” between church and state appears only in President Thomas Jefferson’s private letters to the Baptist Congregation in Danbury, Conn., in 1802, and the metaphor of the letters have been used as a profound influence on law and policy by secular groups.
Experiment with ASU guarantee
On Dec. 14, Ruthann Arredondo wrote about Arizona State University’s plans to take over McKemy Middle School in Tempe (“Don’t experiment with Tempe kids’ education,” Opinion 2). While she made a number of good points and asked important questions, she left one question out: “What’s in it for the kids?”
ASU will claim that the children will get the benefit of the most advanced and up-to-date education available, using the latest and most innovative teaching techniques. I’ve seen the results of some of the “revolutionary” educational ideas from the past, leaving adults who can’t comprehend math, even simple addition and subtraction. And others whose history knowledge consists of such tidbits as “Santa Klaus flew close air support for George Washington.” So ASU’s “benefits” are not a given.
If ASU wants to experiment with people, let them “sweeten the pot” a little. Why can’t ASU guarantee a slot with prepaid tuition and books for all graduates of the school, starting with the first class graduating after the deal goes into effect?
ASU can afford the cost. And this has to be a long term experiment. Subjects of human medical experiments are paid, why not here?
Big fan of new generation
I love that F Minus comic strip. Every day that guy produces humor from the other side of the ice. It is always my first read in the Tribune each day.