OPINION

Letters to the Editor

Your decision to publish the recent letter by Ms. Lynch (Letters to the Editor, 2/10/01) makes it appear that you are willing to abrogate your editorial responsibilities in order to allow things to be said in your paper that you are apparently unwilling to say in your own name. Allowing a letter which makes claims about what average Americans know or don’t know that are clearly biased and inflammatory and which cannot be substantiated, and which is on numerous points factually incorrect (e.g., America has never experienced… war at its borders or its doorstep — how about the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, or Pearl Harbor? – and, The rest of the world is more interconnected geographically – really, Canada, Iceland, England, Australia, Japan, Korea, Spain, Finland, Norway, to name a few, all seem to have as few borders as the US and a drive south from Texas will quickly take you through easily as much war-torn territory as any drive north from Greece) gives readers the impression the paper is compromising its editorial standards in order to use a letter to vent its anger at American foreign policy, the American media, and Greek Americans who recognize there is a time to be supportive as well as a time to be critical. Permitting the use of such crass generalizations and obvious inaccuracies without, at the very least some editorial comment, leaves the letters column one step short of allowing open invective and outright name-calling. At times like these, when emotions are raw, it is even more important venues such as the letters column uphold the canons of respectful, open debate and note explicitly when and why it chooses not to. D.A. Stone Thessaloniki Editor’s reply: Mr. Stone is correct regarding the fine line that the letters column has to walk during these difficult times. Sometimes we allow letter writers to be a little more outspoken than would have been the case in the past, in the belief that it is valuable to know how people feel at this time. Readers who disagree with a certain opinion will most certainly reply with their own. We do not feel any anti-Americanism or anti-anything and we do not feel that any of the letters we have printed does so either. Nor, of course, do any of our letter writers disagree in their unequivocal condemnation of the terrorist attacks; what the debate is about is the way the Greeks reacted, or were seen to react, to them. Angry Greek Americans Regarding Greek Americans express thanks, anger, Hellenic Americans like myself are deeply shocked and extremely disappointed by the remarks of certain Greek officials who chose this particular moment of pain and anguish following the mass murder of 6,600 Americans, and at least 50 Americans of Hellenic background, to launch vicious attacks against the United States. I personally know several Hellenic-American families that are so angry over those remarks that they have canceled travel plans to Greece next year. It should be understood that those inflammatory remarks, and offensive anti-American behavior, can only serve to weaken the bonds connecting the 3 million people of Hellenic ancestry living in America to the people and government of Greece. One day the Greek people may again look to the Hellenic-American community for help influencing American policy in a manner more favorable to Greek interests. They may find that we are too demoralized and disgusted by their anti-Americanism to respond. The anti-American remarks were not only horribly ill-timed, they were also based on false claims and distorted propaganda. The United States is not responsible for the difficult situation of the Palestinian people. Some Greek politicians have also deplored what they falsely characterized as US aggression against Serbia. The support of some Greeks for the genocidal killer Slobodan Milosevic was another development that was not looked upon favorably by the Hellenic-American community. Hellenic Americans were overwhelmingly proud that the United States stepped in to stop mass murder in Bosnia and Kosovo. Finally, we Americans are tired of being made the scapegoats of corrupt Middle Eastern dictatorships trying to divert attention from their own failures. As Hellenic Americans, we feel it is the United States, more than any nation in the world, that is fighting for the same principles of freedom that our ancestors fought for at Marathon, Thermopylae, and Salamis, during the Greek War of Independence, and in Albania in October 1940. Conversely, it is those groups and politicians who collude with terrorists and dictators who are the true enemies of the Greek spirit of freedom. Dean Scourtes Elk Grove California The horror of war and pain of sacrifice I would like to remind Ms. Stevia Dounelis Lynch (Letters to the Editor, 2/10/01) that America experienced tens of thousands of body bags coming home from Vietnam, as recently as 25 years ago, as well as the return of a greater number of maimed and crippled young men. Though this war was fought on foreign soil, the horrific experience was far more recent than any Greek experience with war and anything but benign. It is true that the US has not experienced a major war on it proper, but this does not mean it has not experienced great sacrifice and loss. Nor does it mean Americans do not understand the meaning of war. All nations fight when war comes to them. Sacrificing to protect one’s homeland from invasion is almost a given. But sacrificing to protect someone else’s homeland, as the US has done over and over again this century in Europe and Asia, is another. It is arguably a greater sacrifice and more admirable. Greece belongs to the West and shares common values with the United States and other democratic, pluralistic and open societies. Modern Greece owes its freedom and prosperity in this century in great part to the West. So instead of the continual carping and whining we hear from Greeks, it would be nice to see Greeks willing to contribute constructively and real sacrifice in return. Dimitri Zarboulas These are difficult meanings. Everyone sees the surface of the problem, but if we enter into the substance, things start to get very complicated. So complicated that we run the danger of truly negating the human rights and civil liberties of some minorities who are simply struggling for rights, and who at times are branded by some countries as terrorists.