Letters to the Editor

Obama prayer breakfast, UCD swastikas, ozone, Wal-Mart, almonds

President Barack Obama speaks during the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington on Thursday. The president condemned those who seek to use religion as a rationale for carrying out violence around the world, declaring that “no god condones terror.”
President Barack Obama speaks during the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington on Thursday. The president condemned those who seek to use religion as a rationale for carrying out violence around the world, declaring that “no god condones terror.” AP

Obama got it right

Re “Obama speech criticized as offensive to Christians” (Page A8, Feb. 6): President Obama courageously spoke the truth at the National Prayer Breakfast, even if it hurt. Serious study of history reveals horrendous atrocities committed by people of faith in the name of Jesus Christ against those considered enemies of Christian beliefs.

Instead of outrage, today’s Christians should take stock of our violence against people of other faiths, reject it, and attempt to build bridges of understanding. Of course the violence committed by people of another faith against anyone with differing beliefs is not overlooked or condoned. However, building mutual respect is what heals.

This Christian is not offended by Mr. Obama’s remarks. Instead they once again called me to repentance for sins committed by past and present fellow Christians against others simply because they are considered infidels.

Robert H. Fernandez, Fair Oaks

Obama’s criticism is naive

Mr. President, most Americans don’t appreciate being scolded about what happened 1,000 years ago, centuries ago, or even 80 or 150 years ago. No one alive today had anything to do with these events. We are, however, rationally fearful of the extreme elements of radical Islam, and what may be coming to us on our shores that may make 9/11 seem like a day at the park. The idea that we are getting on any religious “high horse” is another straw man argument. And many of us are rationally fearful that your approach to stop them is naive at best.

Charles A. Hummer, El Dorado Hills

It was satire, not anti-Semitism

Re “Anti-Semitic campaign at UCD” (Letters, Feb. 5): What a breezy prosecutorial style Rabbi Taff displays in announcing he has “clear proof” the divestment campaign at UCD is motivated by “blatant anti-Semitism.” His proof? A mock headline on a student’s Facebook page: “Hamas and Sharia Law have taken over UCD!”

As anyone with a satiric bone in their body would recognize, she was poking fun at the Islamophobic hysteria whipped up by some of the divestment resolution’s opponents. Had he looked at her actual post, Taff would have seen its stated intent to spoof.

The Facebook poster in question is a student senator who supports divestment. She has long been hounded by pro-Israel zealots at UCD. Following the post and accusations of anti-Semitism, death threats and anti-Muslim slurs against her have escalated and spread beyond the campus.

Shame on Rabbi Taff for contributing to this defamatory public pillorying of a young person to score a political point.

Carol Sanders, Berkeley

Bastions of free thought?

So much for universities being bastions of open thought and ideas. The UCD student Senate passed a resolution for the university to withdraw investments with Israeli ties. They did so due to pressure from pro-Palestinian students. Swastikas were spayed on a Jewish fraternity house, Muslim students wearing headscarves have been call “terrorists,” and some students are afraid to walk the campus due to their religious beliefs.

How unfortunate that political religious bias and racism have trumped freedom of ideas, thought, and expression in the hallowed halls of academia. Once again, historical intolerance is revealed: If you do not agree with my ideas, then you are not only unacceptable, but wrong in how you think and in what you believe.

Dennis R. Conti, Lincoln

Pollution is a moral issue

At the EPA hearing last Monday in Sacramento, I stood alongside many people of faith and urged the EPA to adopt stronger standards on ozone pollution. Why is ozone a moral issue? Because of the havoc it wreaks in our lungs and in our communities.

Ozone smog pollution is created when chemicals and fumes from industrial plants and cars mix with sunlight and heat. Sadly, children are most at risk. Asthma is the No. 1 health issue that causes kids to miss school. If the EPA accepted a standard of 60 parts per billion of ozone pollution, we could prevent approximately 1.8 million asthma attacks, 1.9 million missed school days and 6,400 premature deaths annually.

As a person of faith, it is my moral responsibility to advocate for my neighbors. A standard that protects those most vulnerable among us – children, the elderly, and those with asthma – is essential for our community.

Ann Rothschild, Sacramento

Wal-Mart vs. military retirees

Wal-Mart’s new location on Watt Avenue worries me, particularly when it comes to the potential impact on the nearby DoD Exchange and Commissary facilities. New jobs are good, but predatory pricing isn’t. All active-duty and retired military and eligible civilian DoD retirees should remember who stood by you all these years. Your commitment has been matched by these services through thick and thin. Don’t be seduced by temporary loss leaders whose prices inexorably rise when there is no other option. Commissary grocery prices guarantee the best possible buy, especially for those who appreciate the value in a functioning commissary and exchange nearby.

James F. Spagnole, Sacramento

Fewer almond orchards

Re “Water saving meets state’s goal at last” (Page A1, Feb. 4): It is great news that the state has met its 20 percent water reduction goal. But hasn’t the focus to date been on urban savings? Since agriculture takes 80 percent of the state’s water and since the agriculture use has been rapidly expanding the past 10-20 years, particularly in water-thirsty but profitable almonds to ship to Asia, how can we solve the state’s long-term water needs without limiting the number of almond groves corporate farmers can keep planting in the desert by I-5? I’d rather use our water to put California beans and asparagus on my table and get my almonds from Mexico.

Jan McCleery, Discovery Bay

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