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Thursday, Aug. 23, 2007 10:11 pm

Letters to the Editor

Untitled Document We welcome letters. Please include your full name, address, and telephone number. We edit all letters. Send them to Letters, Illinois Times, P.O. Box 5256, Springfield, IL 62705; fax 217-753-3958; e-mail editor@illinoistimes.com.
REST IN PEACE, AIDAH I was never more moved than while reading about the plight of Aidah Mahmood [Dusty Rhodes, “Twice burned,” Aug. 16]. She showed far more grace and courage in her life than most everyone directly and peripherally involved in her tragic saga. Sadly, her brother Nabeel, only 11 at the time and no contender to deal with his father’s wrath, seems to bear the most guilt. Perhaps most pathetic of all was the comment by then-Jefferson County State’s Attorney Don Irvin that she may have doused her own bed in gasoline and set herself on fire to garner sympathy. Yeah, right. May Aidah rest in peace and, at last, find the love and compassion that so eluded her in life. Marilyn Medica Springfield
HARD AND POWERFUL LESSON While growing up, I suffered the effects of a family member’s alcoholism and verbal abuse. People ignored my pleas for help and regarded my erratic behavior as mental illness. I don’t doubt that as a result I did manifest a mental illness, although for the past 22 years I have led a relatively normal life on a meager but stable income, working and being a productive member of society like so many others.
This is why I can relate so much to the far more grievous and heart-wrenching story of Aidah Mahmood — a beautiful young girl whose chances for health, for happiness, and for justice were so cruelly robbed from her. I didn’t know her personally. But from Ms. Rhodes’s exemplary story, even in the face of ludicrous legal technicalities and people’s callous indifference, Aidah exemplified a patience and goodwill nothing short of angelic. I beseech God — the same God of Christianity and Islam, no matter what anyone says — to shower the blessed soul of this wronged lady with boundless oceans of the mercy and love denied to her in this earthly life and grant her admittance into the most blissful precincts of the all-highest Paradise.
As to this earthly realm, there is something dreadfully wrong with our society to permit such atrocity to go unpunished. We abrogate the right to call ourselves civilized, to call ourselves human, to condone such an act of torture. We dismiss the thousands of Americans and Iraqis who die in a war halfway around the world, the men languishing in the fetid cells of Guantánamo hundreds of miles away, yet regard the plight of a woman in a local town in the very same way. Complacent though we are in the richest nation on earth, we are all diminished by self-interest, self-indulgence, and materialism. We should all exercise some self-examination as to how we relate to our friends and families, as to how we react — or don’t react — to the needless suffering and hardship of others. No one can make this example conditional because Aidah was an Arab; love, compassion, and benevolence are universal, crossing boundaries both religious and ethnic. Anyone who thinks otherwise only breeds the discrimination and disunity that led to this persistent tragedy in the first place. We stand to learn a hard and powerful lesson here. Let’s all try for a little more spiritual growth and conduct ourselves a little bit better.
Thomas W. Yale

HOW MANY MORE AIDAHS? Reading about Aidah Mahmood’s life and tragic ending feels horrible. Surely someone else must also believe that the injuries she sustained by that fire resulted in her premature death. Murder has no statute of limitations. And what about Aidah’s mother and female siblings who still suffer abuse? Is there no justice for them either? If not, there must be a way to enlighten others who may become involved with people who feel they are above American laws. Aidah’s story is hardly unbelievable. What is unbelievable is the ignorance and arrogance of all responsible, including those who failed to prosecute those criminals. They should be brought up on obstruction charges. Many jurisdictions upheld illegal decisions prior to enactment and enforcement of civil-rights legislation. Parents cannot abuse their children legally — and they certainly cannot lawfully murder them and get away with it. The U.S. has millions of immigrants — legal and not-so-legal — who believe they have a God-given right to tyrannical rule over women and children. But, when they choose to leave their native lands and come to America, they must be bound by American law. And if the American law is unjust, citizens have a civic and moral duty to rectify the injustice. No one can rectify what was done to Aidah. No one will probably do anything for her mother or sisters, either. But we can try by advocating for justice, not only on behalf of Aidah but for all women and children who are not protected due to some loophole or bias on the part of those who are supposed to protect and serve. As long as her death goes unpunished and female family members remain subject to domestic, despotic terrorism, all of us could be in jeopardy of experiencing justice denied. People like Aidah’s father and uncle are domestic terrorists, and one day we’ll all be sorry for allowing them to go unpunished. People like that do not care about America or Americans and are dangerous threats to the security of the country. They believe we are all infidels and they have a duty to enforce whatever brand of terror necessary to retain their power. America the beautiful can be ugly. How many untold Aidahs are there? Sure, sweep them all under the law of denial — that way, there’s no need to change — no pressure. Kathryn Brazier Springfield
GOT MILK? I SURE DID! The milk is not free in the land of milk and honey — and in the U.S.A. the price of milk is getting more expensive. Today’s cows are producing milk at highway-robbery prices! I am 54 years old, and I could not believe what my eyes saw: In one day, the price of one gallon of milk went up 60 cents, or about 20 percent! I had the best mother in the world, but Mother Mary worried that if I didn’t get enough milk I would die. So I got addicted to milk at an early age. I was 4 months old and weighed 27 pounds. I was a big milk-belly baby. It won’t be too long before one gallon of milk will pass $4. And $5 is on the horizon. Mothers, don’t let your babies grow up to be milk-belly gluttons. George Culley Pinckneyville
AT LEAST WE’RE BETTER THAN CHINA We, in the U.S., have had some horrible tragedies lately. Very sad events. But we were more prepared than much of the rest of the world, especially China. We seem to value life and protect our people more. Many say that the people who are assigned to protect us are just unprepared and uncaring. In the time since the bridge collapse and mine cave-in here China had a bridge collapse with at least 41 people killed on a newer bridge than ours (my impression since we have had heavy car traffic longer) and had a mine flood with 181 miners trapped. Any loss is too much. We need to keep our miners safer and our bridges strong. I am just glad that we do not have losses in their numbers. We should pray for their families and ours. Patrick Johnopolos Springfield
GIVE FDA AUTHORITY OVER TOBACCO Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in our country. Unbelievably, despite all the harm they cause, tobacco products are exempt from basic health regulations that apply to other products, such as food, drugs, and even cosmetics. The tobacco companies continue to take advantage of this lack of regulation to market their deadly and addictive products to our children, and this is unacceptable. Our legislators must do something to combat the tobacco problem. On behalf of all the health-care professionals who see devastating emotional and physical toll that tobacco takes on our patients and families, I urge U.S. Rep. John Shimkus and the other members of Congress to support legislation that would provide the U.S. Food and Drug Administration with the authority to regulate the marketing, sale, and production of tobacco products. The time is now.
James Piephoff, M.D. Alton
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