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She Said, They Said: a Case of 9/11 Jitters?

September 18, 2002

Re "Florida Is Gripped by Terrorist Scare," Sept. 14: Perhaps Eunice Stone did hear two Arab Americans and a foreign student making joking remarks about 9/11 and commenting about a potential attack on Sept. 13. Perhaps she made the whole thing up. Regardless, our justice system prevailed. The men were cleared of wrongdoing by the authorities and sent on their way. If they did make the remarks in question, they should expect to suffer the consequences of their hateful and inappropriate speech. If Stone made the whole thing up, she should suffer the legal consequences. Accusing people based solely on the way they look is inexcusable in our democracy.

If Stone did accurately report what they said, she was correct in reporting them to the authorities, and the three paid a small price: 17 hours of police interrogation and loss of their medical school internships (Sept. 16). We all should be mindful of the consequences for inappropriate speech, even remarks made in jest, like joking about having a gun in the line at airport security, in these troubled times. I fear the biggest casualty will be our own loss of vigilance in reporting real potential threats as the memory of 9/11 fades.

Steve Lipman

Foster City, Calif.

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Shame on Larkin Community Hospital--and let's give respect to the three Muslim medical students who were to complete internships there. How could hospital President Dr. Jack Michel have the nerve to ask these three students to transfer somewhere else? After what Kambiz Butt, Ayman Gheith and Omar Choudhary have been through, why must Michel add to their hardship?

Of course, the answer lies in the numerous anti-Muslim threats the hospital has received over the past few days. The answer lies in the continuing racial bigotry that mars our country. Until we shed this mistrust of all Muslims that obviously pervades the U.S., embarrassments like the Alligator Alley episode will continue to sap credibility from our international efforts and brand this country as a haven for bigots. This change can only work one open mind at a time.

David Fife

Los Angeles

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