U.S. Muslims are not the enemy | Oct. 31, letter
Radical Islam is danger to nation
Hassan Shibly of the Council on American-Islamic Relations attacked me and Allen West in a letter for defending America against the dangers of sharia-compliant Islam.
I have long spoken out against the dangers of radical Islam. I am careful to differentiate between those who pervert Islam into a totalitarian ideology and those who practice it peacefully.
And yet I am routinely attacked by Shibly and his organization. Why would CAIR, which pretends to care about improving the understanding of Islam, attack those of us who draw attention to the radicals distorting their religion?
The truth is CAIR is dedicated to misleading the American public over the inherent and obvious threat radical Islam poses not just to our country but to freedom-loving people worldwide.
As the last decade has proven, the threats America faces from radical Islam are real. But the irony is that Islamists have killed more innocent Muslims, either through adherence to sharia or through terrorist attacks around the world, than any other group of people.
While CAIR garners sympathy in the mainstream press, there are brave moderates within the Muslim world who speak out against radical Islam and get very little attention. These reformers hold the key to not only helping Americans better understand Islam, but also helping to free the Islamic world from the radicals who have enslaved a large portion of their population.
If CAIR truly cared about improving the image of Islam, they'd spend more of their time heralding those courageous Muslims instead of attacking people like me and Congressman West.
Adam Hasner, U.S. Senate candidate, Boca Raton
A welcome gesture of support for allied forces
One of the most enjoyable things about being posted to Tampa is the way the people here treat the military. It does not seem to matter if you are U.S. or foreign military, as everyone makes you feel welcomed. I have spoken with other foreign personnel who have had a number of similar stories regarding having meals paid for by members of the community or having strangers walk up to them and expressing their thanks for their service. Of the occasions that this has happened to me, there is one that stands out the most.
While in uniform, sitting in the Hyde Park Panera Bread working on my laptop, a young man in his 20s walked past, dropped a folded-up paper on my table and continued to walk out the door. Upon unfolding the paper, I found a $5 bill with a hand-written note. The note read "Acta Non Verba (deeds not words), enjoy your coffee, sir. We always support our troops as well as our allies. Thank you."
I have kept the note and enjoyed my next coffee, courtesy of a stranger.
Warren Quennell, squadron leader, Royal New Zealand Air Force, NZL National Liaison Team, U.S. Central Command, Tampa
Student test scores stall in math, reading Nov. 2
Core subjects neglected
It should not be a mystery why student test scores have plateaued in Florida. Students in Pinellas County schools are spending less time in the core subjects than they were three years ago.
Students in middle and high school are required to take seven classes, instead of the six in past years. This extra class means the core subjects have time reduced to account for the new elective. This extra class also means teachers have one extra class to teach and one extra set of papers to grade. Some of our academic teachers are teaching nonacademic subjects just to fill out the schedule.
Both the students and teaches are being asked to maintain recent academic gains while spending less time on their academic subjects.
Public schools are losing many highly trained, highly skilled, veteran teachers and administrators who are taking advantage of retirement plans. We have many young and talented teachers in the system, but replacing so many skilled, veteran teachers is not as easy as some in the Legislature may think it is.
Budget cuts, losing academic class time, and the loss of so many skilled classroom teachers and administrators are playing a major role in our students and teachers not being able to keep the pace of our past academic performance.
William B. Cooper, Dunedin
Third party opportunity
Partisanship in Washington has caused leaders of both major parties to become so polarized that our political system has ceased to function. We have lost our capacity for collective action — for compromise. Both parties need to put their agendas on hold and meet on middle ground.
The absolute refusal of the Republican leadership to agree to any tax hike is unconscionable. And the refusal of the Democratic leadership to offer proposals for reductions in entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is incomprehensible.
It's not too late for the tea party, Occupy protesters and independents to get together to form a viable third party that could break the gridlock.
Frank J. Yanacek, Sun City Center
Florida's alien invaders | Oct. 30
Raise fees for exotics
A lot of these animals — iguanas, Nile monitors, red-ear turtles, chameleons, etc. — are sold only because the pet stores can (or could) get them very cheaply. They do not make very good pets for most people due to large adult size, difficult care, and/or nasty temperament.
Why not put an added fee for the privilege of keeping one of these demanding animals — offset by a reduction in taxes somewhere else? People like me, who are quite fond of these more specialized pets and have the facilities, would still be able to keep them. It would cut down the slaughter of animals that were bought on impulse by people who had no idea what they were getting themselves into.
Charles Brown, Clearwater
House support for 'In God We Trust' | Nov. 2
Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., sponsored a measure that reaffirms "In God We Trust" as the official motto of the United States. He apparently is another Republican who isn't too worried about passing a jobs bill but has time for nonsense such as trying to get a meaningless resolution passed.
George Petrick, Riverview