Voice: Yniguez's defense stance wrong, attack on Muslims unconscionable

June 02, 2002

Rudy Yniguez's column on May 14, "Democrats + Environmentalists = Death in New York" starts out absurd and ends up frightening. His allegation that Democrats are to blame for a gutted defense budget is laughable.

The U.S. spent $278 billion a year for defense in the second half of the 1990s. Does anyone think a few extra stealth bombers would have prevented the events of Sept. 11? And did President Bush find any shortage of available troops or weapons when he ordered the attack on Afghanistan? If so we didn't hear about it.

He then blames environmentalists for supporting "the purchase of oil from totalitarian regimes in the Middle East." Which environmentalists does he talk to? All the ones I hear from urge conservation and the use of alternative sources of energy. If the government would demand that car-makers raise the fuel economy of new cars just one mile per gallon it would save more oil than we ever expected to get out of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.


But his attacks on Democrats and environmentalists are much less disturbing than his attacks on Muslims. He says that after 9/11 the president should have rounded up all Middle Easterners who weren't citizens or residents for 15 years and deported them. He wants the president to pick a Muslim country at random and annihilate it with nuclear weapons. I find it outrageous that a columnist of this paper speaks in this way.

The very day of the attacks on the World Trade Center, then Mayor Rudy Guiliani went on television and entreated the people of New York not to take out their anger on neighbors of the Muslim faith or Middle Eastern origin. President Bush followed suit and in every address has re-iterated that our quarrel is with the terrorists and not with the Muslim world.

People of the Imperial Valley put together a beautiful public service announcement on television celebrating the diversity of the people of our region. Yet Rudy Yniguez states, "They can say not all Muslims are terrorists, but why then are all terrorists out to kill Americans, Muslims?" Mr. Yniguez, Timothy McVeigh wasn't a Muslim.

I take this very personally. Not because I am Muslim, but perhaps because I'm Jewish. The Holocaust was the ultimate manifestation of what scapegoating leads to. When Yniguez echoes the Nazis' expression, "a final solution" when referring to Muslims, I get a very terrible chill down my spine. Atrocities have been committed by people of every race and religion, as have acts of great courage and charity. When people want to punish a whole group for what a few of their members have done, we are all in danger.



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