Letters for June 21, 2007

Watch who you’re stereotyping

Re “The American face of Islam” by Bob Schmidt ( SN&R Feature Story, June 14):

According to the article: “America’s biggest social problems, Azeez believes, stem from bigotry and stereotyping. ‘Too many people think Latino, they think illegal immigrant. They think black, they think gang. They think Arab, they think someone getting ready to blow himself and others up. People don’t see the individual, but who that individual is associated with in their mind. That is hurting American society.’”

When Mr. Azeez says “people,” I believe that he means white people.

While I agree with him about stereotypes, he forgets another stereotype that is prevalent in our society and bandied about rather easily: the image of whites (particularly white Christian males) as racist. To use Mr. Azeez’ word, this stereotype is “unfortunate”; it is often used as an easy way to dismiss differing opinions without giving them due consideration (i.e., the ongoing immigration debate).

If he is all about changing stereotyping, then I hope he understands that it goes both ways, because many do not. The evaluation of individuals by their own words and actions should be applied to everyone, not just members of one’s own group.

Robert Ingersoll
Fair Oaks

Slick salesman

Re “The American face of Islam” by Bob Schmidt ( SN&R Feature Story, June 14):

So Mohamed Abdul-Azeez claims that he isn’t a “Death to America”-spewing jihadist. How nice for us.

Azeez claims that Muslims are the victims of the erosion of civil liberties under the current administration. Just what civil liberties has the average U.S. Muslim lost? Other than monitoring the activities of Muslim jihadist extremists by the U.S. government, the average Muslim has lost no liberties compared to other U.S. citizens.

If Islam is not a rigid religion according to Azeez, then why do women who attend services at the SALAM center have to sit or kneel 15 feet behind the men while wearing head coverings? As a feminist lesbian, would I and other gay people be welcomed at the SALAM center without condemnation? Definitely not!

Azeez is a slick salesman for a hateful, intolerant religion who has fooled naive leaders from other faiths, along with the liberal news media.

Sandy Biroli

Azeez is an exception

Re “The American face of Islam” by Bob Schmidt ( SN&R Feature Story, June 14):

Many thanks for the refreshing article on Mr. Azeez. We need more Muslim leaders in the world like him.

On that note, I do take exception with his remark that “all imams denounce violence.” This, of course, is quite false. They should, but regrettably there are too many imams who wish violence on Israel and America.

This is precisely why we need more Muslim leaders like Azeez.

Brett Braidman

Don’t stereotype retired people

Re “The American face of Islam” by Bob Schmidt ( SN&R Feature Story, June 14):

As president of the Renaissance Society—the learning-in-retirement program affiliated with Sacramento State University—at the time Imam Mohammed Abdul-Azeez spoke to one of our Friday afternoon Forums, I am writing to take issue with the characterizations (perhaps edited) of our membership in the opening paragraphs of Bob Schmidt’s otherwise excellent profile of this spokesperson for religious tolerance and understanding.

The article (as printed) depicted a group of shuffling “white-haired,” “mainstream media-fed” Geritol-swigging senior citizens, most of whom had never been exposed to Islam.

Leaving aside the question of hair, our membership of close to 1,000 is composed of people ranging in age from their 50s to their 90s. All of them are dedicated to a lifelong pursuit of learning and grateful to Sacramento State for providing a home for our organization. Our recent semester-long seminars have included programs on “The Religions of Abraham,” “Iran,” “India” and “Great Decisions in American Foreign Policy.”

Attend one of our forums this fall. Ignore the hair and check out what lies underneath it.

John H. Andrew
Gold River

Mr. Bites, wake up!

Re “State of disgrace” ( SN&R Bites, June 14):

Gee whiz, Mr. Bites has come to the conclusion that everyone knows that Iran’s nuclear weapons program is just a figment of its diminutive dictator’s imagination.

Well, Mein Kampf was a figment of Adolph Hitler’s imagination, but hey, guess what? He did what he said he would do. But then, in 1939, Mr. Bites would have been knee deep in the “America First” movement, which was filled with knowledgeable people, like him, who think everything is a plot by some group of Jews or another—in this case the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

The fact is that Iran is enriching uranium for the purpose of building nuclear weapons and the entire world, including such uncritically pro-American stooges like France, Russia and China, happen to agree. That’s why they voted to impose sanctions on Iran at the United Nations. But then, Mr. Bites knows the “real” story. Yeah, right.

Barry Broad

SN&R = uncool

Re “Hiding out in Sacramento” by Sasha Abramsky ( SN&R Feature Story, June 7):

You at SN&R seem to be suffering under the illusion that you are cool and that you know something about the counterculture movement of the 1960s and 1970s, yet you demonstrate your complete and utter ignorance of it by the picture you showcase on the cover. Why does she (who I’m sure is a totally wonderful person) have this kind of simpering, submissive look on her face? Have you ever even seen a picture of a counterculture person?

Do you even know anything about us? We weren’t passive and out of it. We were angry. We were angry about being sent to war to kill people, we were angry about those people being killed, we were angry that we might be killed or that our friends or brothers or fathers would be. We were angry about racism. We were into freedom. We were warriors for peace.

Do you even know anything about peace? Peace is not submission. It’s a dynamic state of awareness which asks human beings to think. We were thinking. We were questioning. We were seeking the truth in whatever we did. We put our lives on the line, and we tried to live those lives according to something deeper and higher.

We stood for something: peace and justice, challenging everything that the established order stood for, rethinking things so that we could lead lives that had some kind of integrity and truth. We weren’t into finding a lifestyle that we liked. What is that? “Lifestyle” is a product of the ’80s and ’90s.

You know nothing about us. Nothing. The counterculture changed things forever. And no efforts by the likes of SN&R to discredit it will negate that fact.

Debbie Jolly

Easy rider—not!

Re “Rider easy” by Matthew Craggs ( SN&R Scene&Heard, June 7):

Matthew Craggs failed to mention the thing I’ve most wondered about “easy riders”: Why are they so terroristically loud? Why are they “untouchable”?

He says there was no violence at the motorcycle expo, just merciless power—but what’s the difference? He must have been deaf from birth, or only arrived after they turned off all their engines. The noise generated by the typical Hells Angel or Harley rider is a clear case of ear assault, and typically reaches levels that can damage hearing.

I can’t believe this kind of noise is street legal. But cops do nothing—in fact, I think cops are either afraid of them or members of the macho club. Code enforcement does nothing, preferring to target visual rather than aural blight. And I don’t think these outlaw engines are going to develop decibel-softening throat cancer like Mr. Barger.

What is it going to take to do something about these orgies of noise? Am I the only one who notices? Is everyone else already deaf from too many rock concerts?

Will I have to sneak up and put potatoes in their tailpipes to see any changes in their asshole attitudes? If you think I am exaggerating, try asking any of them to pipe down and see what happens. When I try it, they just rev it louder.

Muriel Strand

Quit whining and read something else

Re “Free of guilt” ( SN&R Letters, June 14):

It appears to me that liberals such as Holly Lopez think that “hate groups” are any group with which she does not agree (i.e., the Sacramento Union). I find it curious that she chose to put quotations around free speech when referring to Jeff vonKaenel’s right to speak. Freedom to speak is a gift of the civil, not the politically correct. You enjoy many freedoms in this country. One is the choice to read or not read something. Just because you do not like something does not give you license to advocate censorship for the rest of us.

There are many things/articles in SN&R that I do not agree with at all. However, I have no right to make that choice for you or anyone else. Just quit whining and turn the page like I do.

Dennis Johnson