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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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THE DAILY STANDARD welcomes letters to the editor. Letters will be edited for length and clarity and must include the writer's name, city, and state.


Editor's note: THE DAILY STANDARD received the following email at 9:01 a.m. on September 11, 2003; here is the text in full:

The keyboard is a coward's excuse to mutter words they would never in person . . . Zionist scum . . . you know nothing of Islam . . . give thanks and reflect on this holiday we've given you today. . . .


I found Stephen Schwartz's article on the media in Iraq, A Bad Move in Baghdad, to be unfair. Like the author, I too spent a long stint doing media development work in the Balkans. I know both Schwartz and the target of his piece, Simon Haselock, quite well. There may be much to criticize about the international missions in Bosnia and Kosovo, but if anyone is not part of the problem, it's Haselock.

As media commissioner in Pristina, he should have done nothing to curb hate speech or attempt to establish standards of accuracy and impartiality in the media? In Baghdad, we should stand by as newspapers and television publish made-up "eyewitness" accounts of American helicopters firing missiles into the U.N. compound, instead of reporting the truck-bombing as the act of terrorism it was? Schwartz rightly decries excessive international meddling. but a hands-off policy in the name of some abstract theology of absolute free expression? Give us a break.

A moderate, competent administrator like Simon Haselock is exactly what Baghdad needs.

--Michael Meyer, European Editor, Newsweek

Stephen Schwartz responds: I can barely contain my enthusiasm at seeing a Newsweek editor busily disparaging "some abstract theology of absolute free expression," which is what I believe most of us American journalists think of as the philosophy of the First Amendment. Since Meyer has brought up our past acquaintance, he should not mind me pointing out that as far as I know he never learned to read Bosnian or Albanian, and therefore cannot be blamed for not noticing the parlous state of the Bosnian and Albanian media under the tutelage of Haselock & Co. But he did fit right in with the corps of foreign meddlers busy preventing Bosnian and Albanian media workers from practicing their craft in a modern manner.


Jonathan V. Last closes City Limits by "incidentally" mentioning how the Saudis helped build a big mosque near the Vatican. I didn't know that. But I bet I know something hardly anybody else knows, about the history of Rome and Islam.

A few years ago I was doing some research and discovered that in the year 846 A.D. an Islamic fleet sailed up the Tiber, sacked the Vatican, and trashed St. Peter's tomb--among other depredations. If a Christian force had once upon a time marched into Mecca and torn the place apart we would never hear the end of it. But the Vatican has never drawn attention to this rampage in the heart of Christendom.

--Eric Fern


In Clintonism Saves Schwarzenegger, Bill Whalen says, "Schwarzenegger took the issue head-on. He didn't lie; he didn't parse language. . . . That's similar to what candidate George W. Bush did in 2000 when asked about his past indiscretions. Bush's line: 'When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible.'"

How, exactly, does Bush's "young and irresponsible" line equate to taking the issue head on? It was obviously (and successfully) meant to avoid taking the question of drug use head on. That's why it was a "line," not an answer.

Schwarzenegger owns up to his past and lets the voters decide. Bush never trusted voters with the truth about his past.

--Ryan Holznagel


No matter who you back in the California Recall, you have to admit that it would be simply delicious to have the possibility that Arnold Schwarzenegger would win, walk into the governor's office, and say to Gray Davis "I need your clothes, your boots, and your motorcycle."

--Robert Eleazer


The first example cited in Jonathan V. Last's "City Limits" (about the person who was fined) seems to imply that it's possible to innocently drive towards Mecca and be surprised at being turned back.