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Monday's letters: U.S. Muslims are not the enemy

Religious freedom

U.S. Muslims are not the enemy

It is concerning when politicians advocate for positions that are antithetical to our core values and constitutional principles and yet mainstream political organizations embrace them.

The Hernando County Republican Party hosted a dinner with U.S. Rep. Allen West and U.S. Senate candidate and former Florida House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, two politicians who instead of focusing on real issues that affect everyday hardworking Floridians, have focused their efforts on a disturbing smokescreen: the hysteria-myth that Islam is the enemy and we must be at war with Islam.

These politicians have used their political positions to promote their religious agenda. In an effort to alienate and lambaste the Muslim religious minority in the United States with false claims that we threaten American values and freedoms, the politicians have themselves threatened American values and freedoms.

American Muslims are not the enemy, nor is our faith. We are proud and loyal Americans. The beauty of American diversity is that we may disagree on issues relating to politics or foreign policy. But we can all agree that the Bill of Rights must be preserved for all and that innocent blood should never be shed.

We cannot let religious extremists — of any faith — guide our political discourse as Americans. I call on Republican leadership to remind their party members that they are also representatives of their Muslim constituents and that there is no room for such bigoted discourse in a civilized and free society.

Hassan Shibly, executive director, Council on American-Islamic Relations-Tampa

The crime of … improving citizens?" | Oct. 27, editorial

Teacher, not law, was at fault

This editorial exposes much of what is wrong with the education industry and American social consciousness today. But not in the way the writer intended.

A New Smyrna Beach teacher preregistered 50 students to vote, which ran afoul of Florida election law. The Times wants to change the law. I want to change the teacher.

First, it is incomprehensible and appalling that a high school civics teacher would be unaware of what the law is.

Second, it is disturbing that she tried to substitute for her students instead of motivating them. She is teaching dependency, which is not a hallmark of good citizenship.

When I became of legal voting age, I marched myself to the registrar. It is still true: If you are not self-motivated, you really have no business being registered or voting.

Voting is too precious a citizen's right and too high a citizen's duty to marginalize it with either a teacher's misguided offer or an editorialist's misleading advocacy of making it easier.

Norm Lucas, Tampa


Regional approach needed

A wise elder statesman once said, "There comes a time in each of our lives when we have to decide to do what is easy or to do what is right."

No words ring truer today in terms of the ongoing transportation conversation in the Tampa Bay region. We are at a point where we individually and collectively must make that fundamental decision to do what is right.

Without a successful, regional transportation system, the prospect of Tampa Bay becoming a vibrant new economy with diverse job creation is remote. That means that future generations of residents will seek other locations and communities in which to live and work.

I urge our partners, our leaders and our community to dare to be bold, continue the conversation on transportation and commit to the development of a regional transportation system.

Consider Central Florida. When the region decided that the most important new initiative was to create a regional commuter rail system, they rallied around this vision and developed a detailed strategic plan that will eventually make SunRail a reality. Instead of telling each other why they couldn't do it, they focused on how to do it.

Some say that Central Florida has, in some ways, moved ahead of Tampa Bay. It doesn't have to be that way. Our region's assets are many. It is up to you and me — individually and collectively — to take action. I challenge everyone in Tampa Bay to take bold steps and take control of our transportation and economic future.

Ronnie Duncan, chairman, Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority

Former official convicted in mine disaster Oct. 27

Lax regulation costs lives

The former head of security at the Upper Big Branch coal mine was convicted of impeding the investigation of the worst coal mining disaster in decades by lying to investigators and destroying thousands of security-related documents. I wonder how much direction he received from the people above him to motivate his criminal actions.

We keep hearing the Republicans in Washington decrying federal regulations and how they hurt job creation. The corporate track record on worker safety is rather dismal. Do they want us to return to the days when garment workers in New York were practically slave labor in sweatshops with no fire escapes and little or no ventilation?

How does corporate America justify the huge bonuses that they get even in less than stellar years? It sounds like the Republican Party wants to give the so-called captains of industry a free hand to do whatever they feel they can get away with.

David Bellinger, Largo

Foster denies criticizing Rays | Oct. 27

Mayor is not supportive

Most politicians want to leave a legacy. St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster will be remembered for chasing away our baseball team.

I feel he has treated the Rays' ownership with smugness, disingenuousness and bad faith. For him to say they have not done enough to market the team is ludicrous. Has he not seen the TV commercials, billboards and newspaper ads? What about the talent they put on the field garnering All-Star Game and postseason baseball exposure for the team and the city?

The coaches and players donate their time in schools, hospitals and more. I have had enough of claims that this team and its owners have their hands out, or are trying to take advantage of the community.

I am disappointed that the mayor I voted for, who claimed to be supportive of the Rays when he was running for office, has turned out to be anything but supportive.

Sheri Glass, St. Petersburg

Monday's letters: U.S. Muslims are not the enemy 10/30/11 [Last modified: Sunday, October 30, 2011 8:29pm]
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