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Apology Didn't Defuse the Boykin Controversy

October 22, 2003

Re "General Apologizes for Remarks on Islam, Says He's No 'Zealot,' " Oct. 18: Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin's so-called apology gives further cause to question his suitability for government service. He insults the intelligence of all reasonable people when he denies that he meant what we heard him say, and what he obviously meant. Boykin, for all of his apparent professional skill, shows the markers of a religious fanatic. Fanatics, motivated as they are by dogma and emotion, have a hard time basing policy on objective facts and rational goals.

Let the general retire and find a private pulpit somewhere to preach his intolerant brand of Christianity, and let the fight against terrorism be waged by officials who understand their role and who bother to read the Constitution.

Jan C. Gabrielson

Los Angeles

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"Can the Crusader" (editorial, Oct. 17), comparing the vicious anti-Semitic slurs of Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad at the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit, which he was hosting, to the accurate description of our battle against radical Islam by Boykin is a prime example of the delusion of moral equivalence between the victims and perpetrators of hatred.

Curiously, by urging dismissal of the general charged with fighting terrorism because of the possible misinterpretation of his comments, the editorial shows more venom for those who would defend our country than for governments that fan the hatred that leads to terrorism.

Mel Aranoff

Valley Glen

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If Boykin, the new deputy undersecretary of Defense for intelligence, had made the kind of remarks about Jews that he made about Muslims, he would be out of a job the same day. Demonizing an entire people -- any people -- is too close to our Western past to be accepted under any circumstances.

Thomas L. Lincoln

Santa Monica

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Why is The Times attacking a man for expressing his religious beliefs? Your attempts to hurt him and silence him qualify as religious persecution. What a horrifying situation to have The Times dictating what are approved religious beliefs and what are not.

Julie Hill

La Crescenta

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What concerns me about the general's outspoken views, other than the fact that he doesn't know that the Jewish, Christian and Muslim God are the same deity, is that he is probably the poster boy of a large evangelical core in the present administration that has been too careful, until now, to show its true colors. He is only the tip of a frightening iceberg.

Darcy Vernier

Culver City

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A "frightening blunder" -- that is what military affairs analyst William Arkin called the appointment of Boykin to a high Pentagon position (Commentary, Oct. 16). Apparently, Arkin views Boykin as a dangerous Christian extremist, in part because the general had the temerity to call the war on terrorism a clash between Christianity and Satan.

While the term "Satan" is clearly evocative, in the Christian faith it simply signifies the personification of evil (hence, its use in a Christian setting is entirely appropriate). Query for Arkin: If people who fly planes into buildings, or slaughter innocent women and children in suicide bombings, are not evil incarnate, what are they?

Craig Luther

Tehachapi

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