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Top 10 Letters

A meditation on 9/11, thoughts on Mecca, observations of recall, and more.

12:00 AM, Sep 15, 2003
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When I was stationed in Western Saudi Arabia as a military advisor in the early '90s I drove back and forth frequently from Taif to Jedda, along a route that would normally have taken me through Mecca. But there was a freeway type exit prior to getting to the "toll booth." Signs in Arabic and English (and I think other languages too) warned you to get off and take the "non-Muslim bypass" to get to Jedda. (The Western community in the area tended to call it the "Christian bypass" amongst ourselves, although that was not its official name.)

It was a pretty desolate route with no gas stations or stores, but it was a good two lane road with improved shoulders. Spectacular desert scenery was right out of "Lawrence of Arabia," particularly as you came back the other way and approached the sheer massif that parallels the Red Sea about 30 or 40 miles inland from the coast.

Once, when I had a new Saudi interpreter, I made a jesting remark about how I'd like to see Mecca. To my horror he took me seriously and offered to help smuggle me in, presumably through the aforementioned "toll booth," dressed as a Saudi. With visions of what my chain of command would say to me after I got caught, I had to work really hard to convince him it was just a joke.

--Paul Hurley

*7*

Hmm. Here is the thing that really baffles me about "No on recall, yes on Bustamante": why do these people get to vote twice?

I know--because some judge said so. His logic was that if people who voted "no" couldn't vote for a candidate for governor, they would be disenfranchised. But if they vote "no" on the recall, they are voting for a governor. They are voting for Gray Davis.

--Aaron Frank

*8*

I am a Christian, and am not going to defend religious intolerance, extremism, or terrorism. There's also not much positive I have to say about the Saudi Government or people. But, I will defend a country's sovereign right to rule over its own land, and that is where I have a disagreement with both Jonathan V. Last and the State Department official quoted he quotes.

Who are we to say what Saudi Arabia can or can't do with its own land? If they want to put a wall around a city, and only allow Saudi residents and other Muslims in, that's their prerogative. I think it's stupid, but who am I to say, and why should they care? I'm not a Saudi. I certainly don't give a damn what France says about us.

And I don't buy the argument that keeping the cities off-limits to non-Muslims creates religious extremists. Our policies in the Middle East--which I do support--create terrorists. It's the price we pay. Medina and Mecca have been off-limits to non-Muslims for centuries, yet we never had any terrorist attacks against America by Muslims until after we got involved over there.

Despite what the Politically Correct Establishment tells us, it is sometimes okay, even here in America, to not let certain people in certain places, based on their religion/sex/custom/etc. for the sole reason that you, the owner, do not want them there.

--Christopher Decker

*9*

QUESTION: Does the GOP really want to win in California?

ANSWER: If the GOP wants California, watch McClintock. He'll get a "get out" phone call making an offer he can't refuse--and, the call ain't going to be from Marlon Brando.

--Ken Wyman

*10*

Is Cybill Shepherd confused about who she was kissing in 1967? A little googling turns up this link on Gray Davis's bio, which says in part:

"He then went on to Columbia University Law School in New York, winning the Moot Court award in his freshman year. After graduating from Columbia in 1967, Gray clerked at the law firm of Beekman & Bogue in New York City.

"Joining the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program in 1961 while at Stanford University, Gray committed to enter military service after completing law school.

"He entered active duty in the U.S. Army in December of 1967, rose to the rank of Captain while serving in Vietnam in 1968-69"

When exactly was Gray Davis working at a travel company in Hawaii?

--Frank Hood