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A sign pointing in the direction of Westgate shopping centre is pictured as smoke rises in the vicinity in Nairobi on Sept. 23, 2013. A raid at the mall by al-Shabab killed at least 62 people. (STRINGER/REUTERS)
A sign pointing in the direction of Westgate shopping centre is pictured as smoke rises in the vicinity in Nairobi on Sept. 23, 2013. A raid at the mall by al-Shabab killed at least 62 people. (STRINGER/REUTERS)

WHAT READERS THINK

Sept. 24: ‘Good’ and ‘bad’ terrorists defined, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Terrorists defined

Re A Brazen And Brutal Attack, And A Hunt To Free Hostages (Sept. 23): The massacre in Kenya has clearly exposed the difference between “bad” terrorists and “good” terrorists.

Al-Shabab has just slaughtered shoppers at a Kenyan mall in revenge for Kenya’s aiding U.S. efforts to fight Islamists in Somalia. This makes them “bad” terrorists. However, if these same militants had gone to Syria instead, they’d be openly supported by Saudi Arabia, and would be allowed to set up bases on the border of a NATO state, with no threat of drone strikes from the U.S.

They’d be “good” terrorists – de facto shock troops of the West’s “regime change” agenda, subject to none of the “anti-terror” measures reserved for their comrades in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan.

In other words, contrary to the rhetoric of the “war on terror,” fanatical Islamist militants are seen as useful allies by Western elites – if they destroy regimes that are secular, nationalist, Shiite, pro-Iran or otherwise disobedient. This has been the case for 60 years; not even 9/11 changed this horribly cynical policy.

Jan Burton, Toronto

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Dead to rights

Monday’s articles on the killings in Kenya, Pakistan and Russia made me think that with the amount of strife and killing resulting from “my make-believe god is better than your make-believe god,” maybe Quebec’s proposed charter of values promoting extreme secularism has a point.

Dale Mills, Guelph, Ont.

.........

I totally disagree that “a huge proportion of all wars, persecutions, genocide, torture and injustices” are due to religion (Quebec’s Values – letters, Sept. 23). They are due to prejudice. Quebec’s government needs to focus on combatting prejudice, rather than removing rights: One does not treat measles with makeup, nor should one treat prejudice/discomfort by eliminating rights.

Abe Worenklein, Montreal

.........

It seems quite a juxtaposition to have placed two articles side by side in Saturday’s paper: Ottawa Football Club Agrees To Drop Redskins Name; Charter Pitch Exposes Deep Split Within Feminist Rank.

The first article reports the change in name of a 32-year-old institution. The change was initiated after a single individual’s complaint of discrimination.

The other article is about trying to prevent substantial numbers of women from wearing clothing that some would argue define the very women themselves.

Surely if a youth football club must accept the evolution of today’s definition of appropriateness, we should also accept the evolution of Canadian society as a whole, which is a mosaic resulting from immigration policies.

Our society’s strength and pride is defined by hard-working Canadians, regardless of their religion. I don’t wear religious garments, but my roots still define me.

Sarah Lyall, British expat and Canadian, Ottawa

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Obamacare’s ills

Re The Fight Over Obamacare Is Not Over (Sept. 23): American per capita health-care costs are among the highest in the world. The HMOs and pharmaceutical companies that have profited so obscenely as a result are funding the Republican-led attack on the President’s attempt to extend coverage to the millions of Americans who lack it and to restrain costs.

The sometimes confusing complexity of the Affordable Care Act was a result of the attempt by its proponents to include provisions that might appeal to Republican and corporate interests.

If Barack Obama can be faulted for anything in this – as in many of his other initiatives – it is his failure to recognize the utter, and very personal, intransigence of his Republican opponents to anything he proposes, even policies they originally supported.

Opponents of Obamacare – often the same people who reject gun control, and for the same ideological reasons – are their own worst enemies.

Mike Hutton, Ottawa

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Rail crossing safety

Re Ottawa Leaves Railway-Crossing Safety To Provinces, Municipalities (Sept. 23): Transport Minister Lisa Raitt has demonstrated that she has learned little from history. Has she forgotten Walkerton?

Allowing municipalities and provincial governments to decide when a level crossing is appropriate is like allowing an untrained water-filtration-plant employee to decide when to chlorinate the drinking water.

The minister’s job is to regulate rail-transportation safety. She should start doing it – or resign.

Peter Menet, Burlington, Ont.

.........

Many of the suggestions about improving safety at rail crossings would cost a small fortune. One thing that worked like a charm in Third World countries I’ve lived in, where there were no barriers (no electricity to work them) and extremely small budgets, was rumble strips. Just the change in the texture of the road and sound of the road surface is enough to draw drivers’ attention – even those who are daydreaming and on “autopilot.”

Cheap and effective.

Anne White, Hamilton

.........

I recently spent a week in Napa Valley, where my activities included two all-day winery tours. The bus driver stopped at every level train crossing, looked both ways, and then proceeded. The only train using the track was a wine train for tourists, which runs twice a day, out and back.

If a tour bus driver is required to stop, briefly, at every level train crossing, even when the driver knows the schedule and the usage is minimal, why not require every municipal bus driver in Canada to do the same? A simple, inexpensive and safe response to the tragedy in Ottawa.

Ann Lawson, Nanoose Bay, B.C.

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‘Brood mare’?

Re Our Sadistic Obsession With Princesses (Arts, Sept. 21): While I can agree that perhaps our current celebrity culture tends to present a warped vision of what a princess’s life might be like, does this justify calling Kate Middleton “a very well-behaved brood mare”?

From my vantage point as a wife, mother of three and working woman, I see Kate Middleton as a lovely young woman who met someone at school whom she grew to love. After much thought and a long courtship, she decided to take on the rather daunting role of someone who will be working in the public eye for the rest of her life.

It shocks me that one young woman can refer to another in such a disparaging way. We truly do live in a time of unruly voices.

Andrea Battista, Burlington, Ont.

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Keep on the grass

Re Canada’s Top Tokers (Facts & Arguments, Sept. 23): A survey has revealed that Nova Scotia “tops the pothead list with 14.8 per cent saying they had smoked marijuana in the previous 12 months.”

Nova Scotian by birth, I wonder whether another survey will show that we are more honest than other folk.

Alex Fancy, Sackville, N.B.

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