February 22, 2005

Letters to the Editor

Muslim resistance

Laura Hamilton's article, "Arguing for engagement over appeasement," is rife with common assumptions that ignore the incredible complexities involved in foreign policy. Her claim that the end goal among the radical Muslim terrorists is to "install a theocratic dictatorship in each country worldwide" is case in point. However, Jason Burke, writing in the May/June 2004 issue of Foreign Policy magazine sees the issue another way: "Islamic militants' main objective is not conquest, but to beat back what they perceive as an aggressive West" that has used globalization as a means to destroy their traditional cultural values.

This point is evidenced by the fact that the United States has a long history of removing legitimate rulers in the region and replacing them with our own handpicked leaders, who will impose pro-U.S. policies at the expense of the majority—a true tyranny of the minority. At most, radical Muslims want a unified Islamic state similar to what existed under the Ottoman Empire. And what is so wrong about a people who are terribly oppressed by a ruler they have no control over wanting to establish a free state where they can form a government on the consent of the governed?

Finally, Hamilton argues that if "the world knows that we respond swiftly and proportionally to terrorism" then the world will learn not to do these (terrible?) things. I think the problem is that the world already knows how we react; how we have done little in the Sudan, how we ignore human rights violations in Libya because 11 U.S./Western oil companies have a contract with the current government, or maybe it is because they saw how the U.S. supplies half of the global exports of advanced weaponry, 90 percent of which go to undemocratic or "terroristic" regimes.

Phillip Exline

Junior, DePauw University

Costume ball

As the person who actually dreamed up the Lascivious Costume Ball during an "inspired" conversation one night during my first year in the College—although it was actually brought to life by others who were moved by my inspiration—I read your recent pieces on its revival with rather mixed feelings. While on the one hand I was happy to see that a "good idea" is one whose appeal cuts across the generations and withstands the ravages of time, I was somewhat dismayed on the other to learn that this generation can't come up with a better one of its own. True, the LCB was a whole lot of fun the first year or two, but it was very much a part of my generation's revolt against the authority of the cultural regime we grew up and lived under. Fetishizing it in the way some are now doing is thus really contrary to the spirit of the event. So my advice to those who'd like to stage something at least as much fun is to come up with something that reflects your time and spirit!

And by way of correction I'd like to point out that since very few of us in the College at the time suffered from what your editorial speaks of as "sexual frustration," the LCB was not about "relieving" that. Our frustrations were more intellectual in nature!

Steven Platzer

A.B., 1973