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Stick To The Facts

To The Editors:

Regarding "Evil Is As Evil Does" (by Amy Keith, March 6), it looks like Amy Keith would do well to remember that people who hear only what they want to hear are the favorite playthings of the very demagogues she seems to want to protect against. Criticizing the leadership is a precious right in this country, one of the most precious we have. But with rights come responsibilities, and one of them is to keep criticisms confined to the actual facts.

Given the many and clear occasions on which President Bush went to pains to separate his condemnation of the various governments he mentioned from the people they subject, it's inaccurate to claim that Bush has called "whole populations" evil.

To call their governments evil, well, how outrageous is that, really? In a region where women are stoned for extra-marital intercourse (even if raped), where other women are beaten for not covering a satisfactory percentage of their bodies, where body parts are forfeited for certain crimes, where there is no true free expression, and torture, misery, and death are typical rewards for political dissent, where the populations are kept in poverty while the oil-rich ruling classes build vast palatial estates, enforcing their rule through terror police, can we conclude that the governments which sit there are anything less?

If we do, then we abandon all the precepts of a liberal society which we have always claimed to hold dear. If, as Keith suggests, evil is always a matter of "interpretation," and that there is indeed a relativism among ways of life such that none can be said to be "better" than another, then tell me. . .what was the last half of the 20th century in the US about? Aren't we working for a "better" society? Isn't improvement of our way of life part and parcel of the notion of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" that we have worked so hard to extend to every person who lives here? Is our society today not "better" than it was in 1950? If so, doesn't it then follow that those nations who deny basic liberties to whole groups of people, or even their entire populations, might not be up to the standards of decency and goodness we defined for ourselves?

Given that there are no stable, secular, liberal democracies who live in poverty and every single oppressive state does, it seems clear what the prerequisite, if not the solution, to alleviating the abject conditions of the Mideast, actually is -- to foster free, open, democratic societies where ideas may flow freely and economic activity is allowed to flourish.

It looks as though Keith tends to read only what she wants to read from history, too. After all, Adolph Hitler managed to convince considerably more than a "small group" of people that the Jews were the source of evil in Europe. Indeed, it wasn't even that hard in a downtrodden, war-torn place where anti-Semitism had already enjoyed considerable fashion in the first place. They belived it because. . .it was what they wanted to hear.

David N. Jimerson

We Support Billy

To The Editors:

I am writing to complain about the cartoon about Billy Graham (by Jim Hunt, March 6). Rev. Graham is as close to a saint as you can get in this sinful world, and it's not up to people like Creative Loafing to try to run him down. He had a moment of weakness when speaking to former President Nixon (who wouldn't?), but that was a long time ago and he has apologized. Just drop it! The good folks of North Carolina are not doubting Rev. Graham, we still support him 100 percent. I hope Rev. Graham keeps preaching Christ's word for years to come.

Carl J. Beverley

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