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Misplaced sympathy

Who's right?

Your bias is showing

Misplaced sympathy

The cover story for the November issue, "Delayed and Denied," was both valuable and disappointing. The author seemed remarkably unaware of the main themes that were emerging from her account: 1) the university stands to lose a lot of money if fewer students come from abroad and 2) that holders of student visas were able to cut corners on immigration regulations in the past, but can no longer travel home with expired visas and expect to gain immediate re-admission to our country.

It is hard to imagine living abroad and expecting to get away with failing to comply with visa requirements, even when I was a young, irresponsible student. The author tries to muster up sympathy in the readers, apparently not realizing that few of us will ever forget the consequences of the lax application of visa regulations.
Christine Miller, PhD
Department of Pediatrics
Johns Hopkins University

The saddest aspect of the current troubles experienced by universities such as Johns Hopkins is that these institutions have become increasingly dependent upon foreign students. I know of one particular engineering program at Johns Hopkins where recently less than 4 percent of the applicants were from the United States. At select engineering schools nationwide it has become common for more than 70 percent of the applicants to be from China. Such outrageously skewed numbers are both undesirable and, ultimately, unsustainable. Our nation's educational system must begin to cultivate more of our own students.
Richard Ambrose '97
Baltimore, Maryland

Many of the foreign terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, came to the United States on student visas. It should not be surprising that the federal government has taken measures to investigate people who wish to come to this country as students and to monitor their activities once they are here.

Government agencies can move in slow and irritating ways, but the United States is actually at war with an implacable foe. Foreign terrorists have threatened to carry out further attacks on our soil. While your foreign students face annoying inconvenience, many young Americans who are fighting in Iraq and in Afghanistan are dying or being wounded.
Robert J. Fleischaker
Oceanside, California

Who's right?

The November issue asked, "Will We Ever Stop Killing in the Name of Religion?" ["The Big Question," p. 4]. The answer was disappointing, essentially saying all religions are true. All religions cannot be true. All religions differ from one another and hold exclusive views about God, man, and salvation. Either one is right and the rest are wrong, or they are all wrong.

So, the big question for each one of us is: Which religion is the truth? Or are none of them true? If one sincerely investigates with an open mind, one will find the answer. Then one should share their answer in a loving and respectful way.
Dave Fadeley '86

Would that it were so easy. Let us just erase thousands of years of strife and come together in the name of religion with one god of many names. It sounds very simple, and it is the doctrine of the day. Our chaplains, our professors, and our religious leaders speak of unity that culminates in the worship of one god by various pathways. I say this weakens the experience of true worship and deceives rather than enlightens.

We free Americans should rebuff what is spooned out from our college periodicals and tepid would-be leaders. Express your worship of God in the freedom that so many have died for by holding fast to the tenets of your faith. You need not meld into some watery, universal understanding mumbo-jumbo.
James H. Fuller (Nursing '97)

The enduring wisdom of Thomas Jefferson offers us both insight and hope for the elimination of religious wars. He recognized that religion requires the power of the State to enforce orthodoxy. Without the benefit of proof within this life, monotheistic absolutist religions have no way of discerning truth from heresy. At the same time, their absolute beliefs allow no room for compromise; the consequences of transgressions — eternal damnation — allow no room for questioning and growth. Therefore, they are trapped in shrinking circles of true believers vigilantly ousting any heretic. Ultimately, belief mitosis transforms a unified body of believers into smaller and smaller factions. For the institutions of religion this is the antithesis of a survival strategy. The horrible quid pro quo exacted by the State from religion is to imbue acts of civil institutions with the infallible authority of God. Relieved of the constraining forces of conscience and reason, the State can wage war and achieve its temporal ends undeterred by logic and fact. Appeal to a higher moral authority provides the ultimate and unquestionable rationale for political actions.

Jefferson and his ally James Madison ultimately won the day on the important issue of separation of Church and State and saved the United States from religious wars. They convincingly argued that free debate and argument would distinguish truth from heresy. At the same time, people, informed through debate and acting on their free will would discern the truth and the path to righteousness.
Erik Molander (Bologna '77, SAIS '78)

Your bias is showing

Regarding "Enemy at the Gates?" [November, p. 25] concerning conservative author Ann Coulter speaking at Hopkins in September: My daughter and I attended this lecture and were shocked and disgusted at the rude, uncivil, hostile audience [members], who were more interested in shouting down Ms. Coulter than in listening to what she said. I felt that I was at a New York City Communist Youth rally full of future Al Frankens and William Kunstlers.
Ray Gordon '66
Baltimore, Maryland

I am outraged at Johns Hopkins Magazine for publishing a hateful, biased, and anonymous editorial written in the form of a news story ["Enemy at the Gates?"]. To describe Ann Coulter as an "enemy," "right-wing," and "provocateur" shows unbalanced journalism at its worst. Michael Moore and Nelson Mandela's names, although included, were not similarly prefaced with equally agitating representations such as left-wing, even though their political leanings are well-known as such.
David Breznick '84

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