Letters: Burqas and Western girls' modesty

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The effort to demonstrate the moral equivalency of enforced entombment in an Islamic burqa with young Western girls allegedly "sexualized" through media or the sale of adult-style apparel is appalling ["What the West could learn from Islam," Opinion, May 22].

Intimating that some of the "resistance" to Western dress in a Muslim country "may also be a well-founded fear of Lady Gaga and her imitators" ignores the fact that conservative dress in those countries has been mandatory, not just for years or decades, but for centuries before the likes of Lady Gaga arrived on the scene.

To suggest that the West needs to "mind our own debilitating excess" as "we look to judge Muslim countries" puts the abuse of women -- ranging from enforced dress codes to infibulation to child marriage -- both by government and religion in those countries on the same moral plane as Western parents who, perhaps mistakenly, permit their daughters to dress more maturely than might be appropriate. It's a very poor comparison!

Bernard A. Bilawsky, North Massapequa



Modern girls know they can be both liberal dressers and competent. They also know the difference between dressing liberally and having sex too young. In fact, teen pregnancies are way down!

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Keith Grubman, Bellmore

I commend columnist Anne Michaud for bringing to light the escalation in provocative skimpy female attire.

As a Muslim grandmother who arrived on American soil as a child some 65 years ago, I have witnessed the many phases of female undress. To my great fortune and gratitude, my parents taught me to practice no extremes in any aspect of life.

I gladly accepted the benefits of modesty in dress and conduct, which in no manner impeded my acquiring a master's degree in education, becoming a teacher and raising a family, all within the confines of Islamic religious requirements.

Khullat Alladin, Syosset

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I must congratulate Anne Michaud for hitting the nail on the head. As extreme as we might feel the women's dress codes in Muslim countries are, American culture has gone in the opposite direction.

Our culture has effectively stolen the innocence and childhood from our growing daughters. It has set them on a path of "early sex, pregnancy [and] abortion." It is robbing them of their individuality and setting them up for failure.

They should be concentrating on achieving in school, making friendships that last, and setting goals for their futures. Instead, they are worrying about whether they are "Hot or Not."

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I don't envy the parents of girls today. It is virtually impossible to keep them on a slower path to adulthood. Our culture has a responsibility to help girls reach their full potential.

Gira Freiberg, Plainview

Tipping the school voting scales

One letter writer is dismayed that it takes a 60 percent supermajority to exceed a school district's tax cap ["School vote -- and taxes," May 25]. He points out that even if half of voters approve exceeding the cap, their district's budget would fail.

He interprets this as favorable votes counting for less. Using this logic, can he explain why, if more than half the voters vote against a budget, that budget can be submitted for a second vote?

Do the "no" votes in this situation count for anything? Is there any other election in this country in which the people in power can call a do-over?

This is just another example of how the school districts have stacked the deck heavily in their favor.

Albert Gambino, Garden City South

At-large elections muddy the results

The Hempstead school board vote debacle is a good example of why Sachem voters should not have changed from the head-to-head system to an at-large system ["Insiders failing Hempstead," Editorial, May 28].

The at-large proposition passed overwhelmingly because, on its face, seating the top vote-getters in an election is the fairest way, right? Not exactly.

This case demonstrates that at-large elections focus on arithmetic rather than issues. In Hempstead, incumbent board president Betty Cross has led Hempstead schools to the lowest graduation rates anywhere. Her tenure has been rife with nepotism, cronyism and allegations of corruption. Some residents launched a concerted effort to defeat her in this election. Even Newsday's editorial page took the unusual step of endorsing candidates against her.

Unfortunately, endorsing a candidate in an at-large election is pretty much worthless. Had candidate Ricky A. Cooke Sr. been able to challenge Cross head-to-head, he still would have won with 802 votes, while Cross would have been sent packing with 719 votes.

I believe the Sachem residents were sold a bill of goods that will haunt them in future elections.

Jim Kiernan, Holbrook

Editor's note: The writer, a former president of the Sachem school board, was defeated in 2006.

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