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LETTERS: Enemies, Shaniqua remark and more

Don't grant enemies the Golden Rule

Having been stunned by recent incidents that have demonstrated just how vulnerable we still are to indiscriminate, fanatical killers , Rev. Mark Hallinan and Rabbi Simkha Weintraub astonishingly complain about torture, Guantánamo, sleep deprivation, prolonged isolation, sensory deprivation, and say we should follow the Golden Rule when we are interrogating these fanatical enemies. How can seemingly accomplished people believe that we can prevail against an unprincipled, determined enemy by being soft and compassionate?

It is not clear that torture was used, or where enhanced interrogation ends and torture begins, but it is clear that what has historically been known as torture is a far cry from whatever was done to the enemy combatants. I hope and pray that the president can see the folly in this type of thinking.

Walter McCarthy



Shaniqua remark was insulting

Even if we put aside the racial overtones of taking an ethnic sounding name such as Shaniqua and applying it to represent a whole race, the phrase used by County Executive Steve Levy was insulting. To use the words "even Shaniqua" is to imply Shaniqua, or in this case, the race Shaniqua represents, is inferior - that even Shaniqua, with her limited means and ability, could do it.

The statement was taken out of context, but it seems to me a professional speaker such as Levy chooses his words carefully, and claiming naiveté is a poor excuse.

Lou Civello


Levy responds

Joye Brown's column ["Wrong word, new questions," News, Jan. 25] could have given the mistaken impression that I was joking when I stated in a speech on Martin Luther King Jr. Day that a woman named Shaniqua should be able to live wherever she wants. My comments were very serious and underscore what a disgrace it is that 40 years after King's death, Long Island is still the nation's third most segregated suburban community.

Brown, who was not at the event, should have placed the comments into proper context. I stressed that we will never reach King's dreams until people named Diaz, Chang, Mohammad and Shaniqua can live anywhere they choose. After giving the same speech at forums in the past, I've been praised for confronting the issue. As studies have shown, a prospective tenant or home buyer - especially an African-American one - can indeed be discriminated against simply if he or she has an ethnic sounding name. Hopefully, the discussion over whether the name "Shaniqua" should be used in the speech will not distract us from uniting to confront the evils of housing discrimination.

Steve Levy


Editor's Note: The writer is Suffolk County executive.