Letters for January 3, 2002

No visas for Iranians, women or men
Re “Muslim Woman Dreams of Dentistry” [RN&R View From The Fray, Dec. 20]:

As a retired U.S. Foreign Service officer, I was surprised that you swallowed the dubious visa denial story hook, line and sinker. I can assure you that no one was ever refused a U.S. visa for being a woman. No American visa officer would be that stupid.

Because the visa applicant, Ms. Shahrazd, is from Iran—a country on the State Department’s list of states that support international terrorism—it’s my guess that her nationality had something to do with the visa denial. In my opinion, the American public is well served following the horrific events of Sept. 11 by denying visas to applicants from countries that support terrorism. Unfortunately, because of this policy, Ms. Shahrazd won’t be able to study dentistry in the United States, but our national security is much more important than individual hardship cases.

Remember that like a Nevada gambling license, a U.S. visa is a privilege, not a right. No one is entitled to a visa simply because they have a relative who is a Muslim activist in Reno, or anywhere else. And what did the Reno woman expect when she called the American Embassy in Damascus at 4 a.m.? Personalized service? She probably talked to a groggy embassy duty officer, who told her to call back during business hours.

In any case, Ms. Shahrazd wasn’t denied because she’s a woman or because the embassy staff is overworked. As your story suggests, however, the denial may have had something to do with the Muslim culture of the Middle East, although the U.S. government doesn’t require Muslim women to be “escorted.”

I would be very surprised if either Sen. John Ensign or Rep. Jim Gibbons intervened in this case. Both of them are conservative Republicans who support President Bush’s anti-terrorism measures, including a crackdown on visa applicants from the Middle East.

Guy W. Farmer
Carson City

Editor’s note: At 4 a.m. in Reno, it’s 2 p.m. in Syria.

Check out the library, Hansen
Re “Why Defend Israel?” [RN&R Guest Comment, Dec. 13]:

Mr. Ira Hansen’s article is so full of half-truths and misinformation to anyone familiar with the historical conflict in the Middle East that it cannot be dignified with a rebuke. Suffice it to say that there never was a nation called “Palestine.” Palestine is a name that the Roman Empire invented to replace the name Judea after the Jewish nation rebelled against the Romans. The Jews were killed and/or dispersed to the four corners of the Earth, though there always was a Jewish presence in Palestine and especially in Jerusalem. In modern times, Israelites were often subjected to terrorism by Arab neighbors. After the reestablishment of the present- day Israel, it was attacked by seven Arab nations wanting to completely eliminate it. The Jews that lived for centuries in neighboring Arab countries were forced to leave. Recently, even after getting practically all the concessions that they wanted, Arafat and his followers chose to continue to wage war with the stated purpose of eliminating the State of Israel—and that is what’s behind the tragic bloodshed.

Anyone interested in finding out about the history of the Middle East should visit a library or bookstore. Do you hear, Mr. Hansen?

M. Ross

Get another film critic
Every time I walk past a newsstand, I grab an RN&R and immediately turn to the film review section. As a film lover, I greatly enjoy reading other points of view. I have lived in Reno for a little over two years, and I think during that entire time I have agreed with Bob Grimm’s review only once or twice. That is not to say that Grimm isn’t entitled to his feelings, as we all enjoy different things.

What I would like to see in the future is another opinion. Siskel and Ebert were enjoyable to watch because their opinions often differed. I think it would be a great idea to hire another film critic to work alongside Grimm, to give readers two different views of the same movie. So often these days, if readers see a bad review, they will not go to a movie because of it. I’d like all of the readers, including myself, to have a chance at different perspectives so their decision to see the movie will not be based on one person’s opinion.

Micah Silva
via e-mail