Demand civility in campaigns
In November, the primary winners will face off for our votes. If you are a Republican, Democrat or vote as an independent, you have the right to expect a higher degree of civility in campaigning. Demand that candidates debate each other and discuss the issues important to all of us. Demand that they state what they are going to do in specifics, not generalities. Demand that they tell us the first five things they will do when elected to office and what benefit we can expect from those actions. Demand that they tell us which special interest groups or PACs have developed and paid for ads on their behalf and demand an end to attack ads.
It is okay to point out differences with an opponent if the focus is on the issues. It is not okay to use statements taken out of context or those that are patently false.
As a voter, you can use the Internet to "fact check" even if the candidates, their representatives or the media do not.
If you have lost your confidence in government, think of this statement by Adlai E. Stevenson: "Public confidence in the integrity of the government is indispensable to faith in democracy; and when we lose faith in the system, we have lost faith in everything we fight and spend for."
Philip A. Guercio, Palmetto
Bearing up in a democracy
Some of the letters to the editor complaining about the Tuesday elections and the results miss two points. Philosophically it is proper in a democracy to go through the ordeal of voting, though the value of this exercise is tarnished by many aspects of campaigning. Money and vested interests dilute the meaning of popular voting, but then we confront the First Amendment.
The second point, very positive in time of recession, is that the amount of money spent on political causes and advertising creates many temporary jobs and a few permanent ones. The media, largely TV, garner an embarrassment of riches, and surely this has some measurable multiplier effects.
Finally, the campaigning makes reading and listening to the media news somewhat more interesting, though the Florida campaigns, for all the inside-outside noise, were notably unexciting and uninspiring. May November be better.
James R. Gillespie, St. Petersburg
Throwing money around | Aug. 26, letter
It's his money
One of your letter writers is upset with Rick Scott "throwing money around."
It's his money he's throwing around, unlike our elected officials who throw our money around.
Those are the people he should be upset about. Maybe the letter writer doesn't care about his money, but I care about mine.
Tom Bennis, Sun City Center
New York City mosque
A measure of our freedoms
It is unfortunate that President Barack Obama delivered his constitutional opinion on the proposed mosque near ground zero in a manner which has proven to be so divisive. Perhaps we can use this as a learning experience.
Given that he felt compelled to address the issue, he could have presented it thusly: "Our Constitution secures us in our freedom of religion, but we should all understand that no freedom is truly free. Every freedom that has been provided for us by those who came before brings with it a corresponding responsibility. If nothing else, we have a responsibility to protect the freedom of others in an attempt to ensure that they will help us protect ours."
If you doubt this, picture yourself in a room with 30 or 40 other individuals each demanding their favorite freedom and each of them so self-absorbed that they have no more respect for your freedom than you have for theirs.
In such a situation, your freedoms may be absolute but they may also be worthless. There is a name for this dilemma: anarchy. Picture a sandbox filled with 2-year-olds.
Such anarchy (or surplus of freedoms) may be cured by one of two things: absolute dictatorship that makes you forget about your precious freedoms by saddling you with more important problems (survival?) or leadership that helps you care as much for another's freedoms as for your own.
Your willingness to fight for your countrymen's freedoms is the yardstick by which your freedoms will be measured.
W.A. Broderick, Tampa
Show American values
The dispute over building a community center/mosque near ground zero is extraordinarily depressing. It appears that the imam of the mosque is moderate, does not promote the violent, twisted conceptualization of Islam inherent in the 9/11 attacks, and has been sent overseas on bridge-building missions by both the Bush and Obama administrations.
Also, al-Qaida attacked us; Islam as a whole did not. It makes as much sense to turn against all Christians because Timothy McVeigh (nominally a Christian) attacked the Murrah building in Oklahoma City as it does to turn against all Muslims because members of al-Qaida attacked the twin towers in New York. Further, under our Constitution, freedom of religion exists for all Americans.
Many people acknowledge the right to build a mosque on private land near ground zero, but deplore the mosque because building it tramples on the sensitivities of Americans, especially those with friends or relatives involved in 9/11. But how far away would the mosque have to be moved to be acceptable? That attack affected all of us, not just those in and around New York.
Wouldn't we honor the dead of 9/11 to a greater extent by abiding by the principles inherent in our Constitution? Those Americans who would allow the existence of this mosque are living up to the magnificent but very difficult ideals embodied in the Constitution. In essence, they are showing that we are not like those who funded, supported, planned and/or participated in 9/11. And that is our ultimate victory over terrorists.
Anne Hocutt, Lutz
Moderates must rise
Recent letters on the proposed mosque near ground zero have raised some fundamental issues, which merit careful and objective analysis.
It is a tribute to our higher values that the right to build a place of worship at a location of their choice is respected, if not liked. At the same time, it is understandable to feel hurt at this rather insensitive decision by our Muslim citizens.
As for William Darlymple's essay on Islamist extremism and more moderate Sufism (Muslims in the middle, Aug. 18), the historical facts are that in its march to the east, extremist Islam has succeeded in wiping out Zorostrianism in Iran, Hinduism and Buddhism in Afghanistan, and for more than 10 centuries waged violent and brutal assaults on Hindus in India through destruction and looting of temples, forcible conversions and occupation of vast territories.
Even now, for decades after its success in partitioning India, Islamist terrorist attacks on India continue relentlessly. Fundamentalist Islam is now a global reality. It would be great if its moderate versions are embraced by more Muslims and that they become far more vocal and powerful than their extremist brethren.
Mukunda Rao, Tampa
Mosque site not exactly at or that near to ground zero | Aug. 24, PolitiFact
An apt name
The "ground zero mosque" is appropriately referred to in that manner because of the fact that the landing gear from one of the jetliners steered by Islamic jihadists crashed through the roof of the building where the new mosque is planned.
This is not "Barely True" but is rather a "Verified Fact."
Bob Wirt, Fort Lauderdale