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Views in brief

May 4, 2007 | Page 4

VIEWS BELOW:
California's secret death chamber
Media forgetting Duke players' racism
The real role of women in Islam

California's secret death chamber

SO THE governor of California is building a secret death chamber to start to comply with federal judge [Jeremy] Fogel's order to fix how the state executes people. What's next? Secret executions? Secret trials?

The Democrats are in an uproar about the secrecy, although I suspect some just wanted to be asked for their approval, rather than to slow or stop the machinery of death.

The governor used prison labor for this project, so now we know how they were going to attempt to build it for a mere $399,000 (under the amount that needs legislative oversight). Slave labor is what made this country thrive, and it continues to do so.

The building was stopped, and they maintain it wasn't because they were caught, but because of a cost overrun of $300,000--almost double what the death chamber was supposed to cost. We know there is no right way to do the wrong thing. Let's continue the fight to stop them from building structures of hate and violence.
Pat Foley, Oakland, Calif.

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Media forgetting Duke players' racism

NOW THAT criminal charges have been dropped against the athletes at Duke University who were suspected of raping a Black woman, the media are treating them as if there was never any doubt that they were "innocent victims." But it's worth remembering the racist pattern of behavior that these students engaged in.

For one, police seized an e-mail sent out before the alleged rape by Duke student Ryan McFadyen, stating, "I've decided to have some strippers over and all are welcome. I plan on killing the bitches as the [sic] walk in and proceed to cut their skin off while cumming in my duke spandex." McFadyen's attorney Glen Bachman admitted that "the language of the e-mail is vile," but foolishly argued that it "demonstrates that its writer is completely unaware that any act or event remotely similar to what has been alleged ever occurred."

Later on during the night of the incident, 911 got a call from a Black college student out walking with her friends who was called a "nigger" as she walked past the team's house. "Thank your grandfather for my nice cotton shirt," was another epithet shouted by one of the Duke students. Someone also reportedly yelled that they had asked for white dancers, not Black ones.

Furthermore, the doctor who examined the victim said that her body showed signs that she was raped. A cab driver that picked up one of the alleged attackers overheard the student loudly saying, "She's just a stripper."

Add to that the racism of the U.S. justice system, which never convicted anyone in the lynching death of young Emmett Till, despite re-opening the case recently. Thirty years passed before someone was convicted in the death of civil rights leader Medgar Evers.

If there is ever going to be justice in this country, we're going to need a new justice system--one that's not founded on bigotry.
Dominic Renda, New York City

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The real role of women in Islam

AS A Muslim, I read with interest and general approval your article "Standing Up to Islamophobia." (April 20) However, I would dispute the characterization in the piece that, "As in all religions, elements of Islam are explicitly conservative--for example, the attitude that women are the inferiors of men."

While such a view is indisputably prevalent in currently existing Muslim societies, it should be acknowledged that the Koran and the actions of the prophet Muhammad support a view of women as fundamentally equal to men.

It is clear in the Koran that women are equally endowed as men with the ability and responsibility to engage in governance of the community, to participate in economic life (on her own initiative without interference from husbands or other male relatives), and to participate in education.

In short, the Muslim woman has the right and duty to perform all social and religious activities incumbent upon her male peers. In the early Muslim community, women exercised these rights--often against the opposition of males. No Muslim jurist in the early formative period of Islam ever endorsed the view of women as soulless animals that was common among the early Christian church fathers.

If one wishes to build bridges and make common cause with the oppressed Muslims around the globe, it would be helpful if socialists would not assume that all ancient religious traditions are the same and project the deficiencies of Christianity upon Islam. It is a bit akin to blaming the International Socialist Organization for the crimes of Stalinism.

Which is not to say that the Koran and authentic Muslim religious law promotes the same conception of women as modern secular socialist feminists do. There are indeed deep disagreements between the two views that cannot be easily disregarded or reconciled.

I would invite the editors and contributors to your publications to learn more about the history of Islamic social thought. Of particular interest to your readers would be the Koranic and legal discourse concerning the distribution of wealth in society that prefigures the arguments of socialist thought that only appear in the West after the Enlightenment.
Hasan McCormick, from the Internet

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