Thank you for Irene Chen’s report on the campus talk by former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (“Forget the War on Terror,” Elms, May/June). Santorum’s warnings about the naiveté of unthinking multiculturalism and the horror of militant Islam are a dose of sorely needed reality.
William F. Katz ’87 PhD
I am glad that Rick Santorum was invited to speak at Brown. His ideas, which are shared by many Americans, need to be heard—and refuted. By focusing on only a few atypical Islamic ideas and the actions of only a few Muslims, Santorum has contributed to the counterproductive notion that being against Islam is the highest form of American patriotism today.
Almost everything negative uttered, written, or done against Islam by Westerners is promptly disseminated around the Muslim world by extremists. As the Muslim writer Khaled Abou El Fadl states in his 2005 book, The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists, “nothing helps the puritans’ [Islamic extremists] cause as much as Western ignorance, prejudice, and hate.”
I am not a Muslim, but some years ago, I converted to the Sikh religion, which originated in northern India about 500 years ago. One of the things that attracted me to Sikhism was its respect for all other faiths, as well as its commitment to actively protect other faiths when they come under unfair attack.
Frank P. Tarney ’72 AM
Boca Raton, Fla.
i guess i can understand why the Student Lecture Board might want to invite to campus a provocative speaker with views outside the mainstream, but the selection of former Senator Rick Santorum is baffling. I’m sure he would have been more comfortable at Liberty University, where he would expect the majority to agree with his beliefs. Although there was a packed house, many students elected to stay away and not dignify his “lecture” with their presence. Why pay any attention to someone so irrelevant and bigoted?
His remarks were centered on the so-called war on terrorism. Students should have taken issue with this framing of the set of difficulties we face in a substantial part of the world. The word war has given President Bush and supporters like Santorum, all of them aided and abetted by a subservient Congress and a stacked Supreme Court, an excuse to systematically demolish our laws, our treaties, and our very Constitution.
As someone who is anti-intellectual, Santorum should not have been invited to campus. His brand of extremism is, in some way, more threatening to our system than the ideology of those who simply want us out of their country and to stop supporting autocratic, repressive regimes with armaments and the precious lives of our youngest and most vulnerable.
J. Russell Tyldesley ’62
Santa Fe, N.M.