tampabay.com

Other Muslim voices are missing, 12/18

Letters to the Editor
Published December 18, 2006


Re: Fear of Islam can be treated, cured, guest column, Dec. 12

I agree with Dr. Adel Eldin that the fear of Islamic people is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. This type of phenomenon often occurs when people are injured by a devastating event. It happened after Pearl Harbor with the mistreatment of Japanese-Americans, and it is happening now after 9/11.

Dr. Eldin's commentary, nonetheless, was too one-sided. It described the many things non-Muslims could do, but failed to mention what Muslim Americans could do.

I hope and pray our troops come home from Iraq as soon as possible, but they weren't in Iraq on 9/11. As far as being an "even-handed broker in the Middle East," President Clinton tried. Many Israeli concessions were to be made if the Oslo Peace Accord was implemented. Parties on both sides sought to stop the peace process. Hamas (and other Muslim fundamentalist groups) did not, and still does not, want to recognize Israel's right to exist on what was Palestinian land.

The Patriot Act probably needs a closer look, but let's be fair: the hijackers on 9/11 had very similar characteristics - they were all Muslim. It would be unwise for a government, any government, to overlook those similarities, even if it means profiling Muslims. Moreover, the United States vetoes U.N. resolutions it considers unbalanced. The United States, for example, recently vetoed a resolution in which the U.N. denounced Israel's invasion of the Gaza Strip without addressing the underlying issue of the kidnapped Israeli soldier.

"Establishing a special liaison" - a dialogue - is, in my opinion, always a good idea. "Reconnecting America to the Muslim world" (while maintaining our principles) is a goal we can all share. Having U.N. peacekeeping forces monitor the region while the peace process resumes is something Americans want. On these points, I agree wholeheartedly.

What Dr. Eldin's article was lacking, however, was what Muslim Americans could do to help squelch our fears. I wish many more moderate Muslims would actively speak out against acts of terrorism. All too often, the only voices heard by non-Muslim Americans are those of the radicals. We are left wondering, is that the only voice? Where are the moderate Muslim voices?

Jennifer A. Speakman

Spring Hill

Re: Schools race data vary widely, Dec. 10

Segregation was the law, not choice

Starting a busing program was not the problem or the solution for the Hernando County school system during the period when the 1965 desegregation act passed. Stopping the busing would have solved the true form of segregation that existed, and that was being upheld in the Hernando County school system in 1965.

The true form of segregation in schools was not merely blacks and whites attending different schools. For blacks, the true meaning focuses on a much deeper fact that the segregated practices of the entire South were to educate blacks in inferior schools and these practices were supported and upheld by laws stating that blacks could not go to a white school; there was never a law stating that a white could not go to a black school. Blacks wanted equality, not integration.

The article stated, "In Hernando, black parents and the local NAACP spoke up last spring when the district announced plans to abandon its own 41-year-old busing scheme to end racial segregation." That is not entirely accurate, at least not with many of the parents and concerned residents affected by school policies. There has been chatter in the African-American community about complaints being filed with the Florida Department of Education because in the Hernando school system, almost 100 percent of black students are being bused.

Segregation and desegregation are words that were strictly derived from a white-based analysis, an analysis that was primary forced on the African-American community to accept. Consider the fact that in Hernando in 1965, there was Moton High School on the south side, and Hernando High School on the north side. Two schools; now tell me how difficult is to "desegregate" from two segregated schools, and be bused to an integrated school, when you had only two schools, and blacks and white living in mostly two areas, the north and south areas of Hernando County? There were no Spring Hills or Hill n' Dales.

The former Hernando County school officials would like to believe, and for others to believe, that "In the Hernando County of 1965, busing was a voluntary effort to redistribute African-American children from the segregated Moton School in south Brooksville to others schools on the east side of the county." The facts of the matter are: First, it's not "Moton School," it is Moton High School. Second, there were no schools on the east side. The black children being bused were from the east side, north side and west side to the south side, the area of the all-black Moton High School, which included grades 1-12.

White students living on the south side were bused past Moton High School to the all-white Hernando High School on the north side. Black students on the north side were bused past Hernando High School to the south side to the all-black school. This is segregation. It was the law, not a choice, and that is the difference in this new form of a meaning for the words desegregation and segregation, a new meaning implying an inclusively acceptable choice.

Richard L. Howell, Brooksville

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