U.S. should not be intervening in Syria

The Times June 21 editorial on the Syrian conflict, which praised President Barack Obama's decision to arm the rebels in that war, was wrong on several counts.

  • The United States is under no obligation, moral or otherwise, to intervene. Our only concern should be to promote and defend our own national interests, and the United States does not have a vital, or even marginal, national interest in aiding the Syrian rebels.

  • The rebels are in no way any better than Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and are possibly worse. While Assad is an autocrat and gangster, he has not done harm to the United States. But his enemies, who include al-Qaida and other jihadists, have. These are the terrorists who killed thousands of Americans on Sept. 11, 2001.

  • Assad's use of chemical weapons changes nothing. His supposed violation of international law is meaningless, because international law itself is a fiction -- and should remain so. Its only purpose can be to diminish the sovereignty of individual nations, including the United States.

    Jayme Scott

    Hercules

    Description of rape perpetuates abuse

    The publication of the article "Participant describes brutal gang rape" is problematic and destructive on many levels.

    The public reliving of this woman's experience by news media is inappropriate and even pornographic. The fixation on exactly "what" happened and "how" it happened, in the absence of any question of "why" it happened, is emblematic of our culture's misguided priorities.


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    The publication of the article perpetuates the sensationalization of sexual violence. The article itself reinforces our culture's lack of respect for and sensitivity toward women and their bodies, and incorrectly categorizes women's bodies as part of the public sphere rather than the private sphere.

    Sexual violence and sexism abound in our culture. The newspaper-sanctioned play-by-play of the gang rape perpetuates the abuse of the victim's body and psyche.

    This kind of attention creates a false illusion of community concern for and action against sexual violence, when in fact readers passively consume these stories and then move on.

    Please don't publish articles whose format and diction reinforce sexist and violent ideologies. Additionally, please report on programs and resources we have or need that address the roots of sexual violence and sexism in our communities.

    Sara Kaiser

    Moraga

    Bag ban doesn't address key issues

    I recently read that the Richmond City Council passed an ordinance banning the use of plastic bags in various businesses. However, as well-intentioned as the council is (concern for the birds and fish, and problems associated with plastic bags), it is still ignoring one very important issue: What are we going to do about plastic garbage bags, sandwich bags, plastic food storage bags, and so on?

    Further, many persons use those retail plastic bags as garbage can liners and discard them properly in their weekly pickup by the sanitary company.

    These issues have to be addressed before implementation of the ban.

    Bob Collins

    Richmond

    Obama program a step toward police state

    I used to sneer at the right-wing hysteria that occasionally likened President Barack Obama's government to a police state. Now I'm not so sure.

    I recently read the McClatchy report of Obama's executive order called the "Insider Threat Program," which requires federal employees to spy on and report fellow employees who display "indicators" of suspicious behavior, such as "stress, divorce and financial problems."

    Failure to report such behavior can lead to penalties up to and including criminal charges.

    This in an attempt to prevent "leaks," but not just leaks from or about intelligence agencies or the military, but also the Peace Corps, the Social Security Administration, and the departments of agriculture and education.

    I'm starting to get a sense of that hysteria myself. Someone convince me that this isn't a step toward police-state values.

    Pierre Peterson

    Concord