Dear Editor:When the lecture by Dr. Hamid was announced, I was eager to attend and hear what he had to say about the roots of Islamic terrorism. His description of his own recruitment and subsequent rejection of jihad was fascinating. I was also intrigued by his explanation of the psychological coercion used to recruit young Muslims to jihad, as I have often wondered how these men and women can justify such horrific violence against innocent civilians. Certainly there is a cultish phenomenon at work, which he described very well.However, I must respectfully disagree with Dr. Hamid’s assessment of the role of U.S. policy in the terrorist’s choice of targets. When I asked why the U.S. was so hated, and targeted over places like Canada or Scandinavian countries, he said that U.S. power made us an attractive target. In addition, the freedom we give to Muslims in America made us appear weak.By that measure, the solution would be to dissolve our military, declare pacifism and deny basic civil rights to all U.S. Muslims. But no, Dr. Hamid says, if we want to defeat terrorism, we must be stronger, more brutal, and most importantly continue the war in Iraq, but with even more troops and force. This is not the message most moderate Muslims and Islamic scholars are projecting.If Dr. Hamid had presented a more well-rounded view of the jihadist movement that included the various complex motivations, I would give his appearance in Aspen more credence and commend the local members of ALERT for bringing a better understanding of the issues to our community.But his perspective was so skewed to one side, and he was so quick to dismiss any culpability by the U.S. and Israel, it leads me to suspect that this was a ploy to disseminate anti-Islamic propaganda, and absolve the U.S. of any responsibility to promote peaceful relations and just policies in the Middle East.Presenting the cause of terrorism as a one-dimensional vilification of the Islamic religion goes against the professional assessment of every foreign-relations expert, the 9/11 commission report’s findings, and the testimony of members of al-Qaida including Osama bin Laden himself.Without recognition of the fact that there is a connection between our policies and terrorism, we cannot begin to prevent it. Perpetual military action in the Middle East that causes death and suffering to so many civilians is not going to solve the problem, and according to al-Qaida’s numerous declarations, will only accelerate it.Sue GrayCarbondale
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A meeting with state public health officials Monday afternoon revealed new metrics for smaller population counties and good news for Pitkin County.