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Lindh Supported a Repressive Regime

July 19, 2002

Frank Lindh, the father of American Talib John Walker Lindh, dares to compare his son to Nelson Mandela ("Lindh Pleads Guilty, Agrees to Aid Inquiry," July 16). After his son pleaded guilty to fighting for the Taliban, Lindh senior was quoted as saying, "I told John ... that Nelson Mandela served 27 years in prison. He's a good man, like John."

I'm personally offended by this ludicrous comparison. Mandela went to prison for opposing a regime that robbed him, and all black South Africans, of their basic human rights. John Lindh willingly left his home to fight for a regime that robbed all women of their basic human rights. The Taliban treated women even more harshly than the South African government treated blacks under apartheid. To invoke the name of Mandela in support of a man who actively fought to create a nation in which women were essentially slaves is the height of absurdity.

By sweeping the Taliban's treatment of women under the carpet, the media allowed the Lindh family to perpetuate the myth that as long as their son knew nothing of 9/11 he did nothing wrong by fighting for the Taliban.

David Harvey

Los Angeles

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Lindh isn't the first American to join another country's civil war. Nearly 3,000 U.S. volunteers (mostly communists) fought against Franco's fascists in the Spanish Civil War. America's isolationist tendencies avoid involving our commissioned soldiers in conflicts that don't directly apply to us (regional example: India versus Pakistan). But after one side of the Taliban versus Northern Alliance conflict became a clear enemy, we got a big wake-up call. At least one American was already involved.

So what do we do when citizens want to fight in non-American battles? After Monday's messy settlement, it's time for a better policy.

Adam J. Rose

Los Angeles

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On the same day that it's assumed that Lindh will serve less than his 20-year prison term because of good behavior, it's reported that Marjorie Knoller, the killer-dog lady of San Francisco, will be free in a mere 14 months, thanks to time served and good behavior. People are sentenced and sent to jail because of their evil deeds. Considering that they are then living under armed guard 24 hours a day, their so-called good behavior is hardly evidence of an epiphany. Instead, I would suggest that felons serve their full terms, and if they are stupid enough to misbehave while incarcerated, they should have additional time tacked on for bad behavior.

Burt Prelutsky

North Hills

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