Letters to the editor

Disappointed with future leaders

I am writing to express my opinion on a disappointing situation that occurred around the University of Calgary in regards to student community and lack of leadership. I am a third-year student and while on my way to classes this morning (Jan. 20) I was assaulted on the bus. I will not go into the full details of what occurred at this time, but I was very upset with the lack of assistance from my fellow bus travellers, many of whom I assume also attend the university (based on attire and their stops). I understand that it can be a distressing thing to get in the middle of something and that most of them were thinking, “thank goodness this isn’t happening to me,” but I feel like our community should be a bit more concerned with helping others and leadership. If this university is supposed to be creating future leaders we should all be a little bit more willing to stand up for something that we see as wrong. It was very clear that something was not right and I said quite loudly to “stop touching me” in hopes that somebody would assist me, but instead I either received avoided eye-contact or was watched as if I was a juicy soap opera. Yes, I agree that the bus driver was the figure of authority in this situation and he should have stepped in, but not a single person on that bus assisted me in any way, including the driver. This makes me very sad and disappointed with a community that I thought would be the first ones to take a stand.

Janine Riedner
University of Calgary student

RE: Facebook fanaticism

Regarding the Canadian-Palestinian University of Calgary student whose life ambition is to be a suicide bomber, it is highly improbable that this woman would be able to fly all the way to Israel to blow herself up. She is much more likely to do it in a Calgary bus depot.

Paul Cerar

RE: Facebook fanaticism

Thank you for the excellent article, and support for Ala’a Hamdan. As a Jewish person, I also commend you on your balanced presentation on the Palestine-Israel situation.
I have known Ala’a for several months and am impressed by her leadership and generosity; she is an outstanding person.

Miriam Meir

RE: Facebook fanaticism leaves us speechless

As a Jewish person, I was discomforted to read your support for the statement made by former student Ala’a Hamden that she would be willing to spill blood to free her people from the grip of occupation. But as your editorial implied, discomfort is no reason to stop her from expressing herself. As the legendary U.S. President Benjamin Franklin said, “Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.”
You did say one other extremely important thing in your editorial and that is that after the Second War, the surviving Jews of Europe yearned to go back to their ancient and ancestral homes. Unfortunately, if you would ask Miss Hamden and anyone else imbued with the Palestinian cause, they would tell you that Jews have no connection to the land and a Jewish state is unacceptable to the Arab people. The failure to acknowledge that Jews are the aboriginal people of the region is what is keeping the two sides apart.
I would also like to comment on Miss Hamden’s anger. It is typical of the incitement inflicted on Palestinian children to hate Jews and Israel. Textbooks are full of it. Summer camps are devoted to hate training. Preachers, the media and Palestinian government officials spend every waking moment hating.
So this question begs to be asked. How can two sides live in peace when one side is totally imbued with hatred for the other? Maybe it’s time for Ala’a Hamden to interact with her Israeli counterparts in a peaceful and respectful manner in hopes that the confidence between the two sides that is required for peace can be generated. What might happen in Calgary can change the world.

Larry Shapiro,
Former Calgarian

RE: Seeing through the Holy See

Your comment that the Church “equates change with wrongdoing” contradicts the comment directly preceding it that it is trying to “return to the absolute grassroots of the church”, i.e. trying to change. We would also like to point out that the Jesuits, the ancient order into which the Pope is ordained, were instrumental in many scientific and mathematical discoveries in the medieval period. If you would like to find out more about this, as well as more misconceptions about the Catholic Church, we encourage you to take History 325, “Reformation Europe.” As well, Vatican II (1962–1965) was a period of substantial change and a new self-understanding of the traditions of the Church.
The only thing that does not change in the Church are the dogmatic teachings it encompasses. Everything else is free game.
We feel it is very judgmental to state that Francis has done nothing to substantially correct the sexual abuse when he has been in power for less than a year, when the “Nazi” Pope Benedict committed eight years of his papacy to redoing the wrongs committed through monetary compensations, disrobing of clergy and public apologies. Were you aware of his work in this regard?
We would like to request where you got the specifics to formulate your extremely offensive and gross generalization in your quote “The modern church’s financial machine follows a steady pattern of donations followed by corruption and disaster, having been consistently mismanaged by greedy and incompetent clergymen.”
If you have access to the faulted financial statements of the over 2000 Catholic dioceses in the world, please supply this information to us. Or, the Diocese of Calgary is open to questions regarding its fiscal responsibilities. Perhaps you could also become better informed about its apparent “declining attendance and donations.” In the meantime, why not check out Chalice, one of the many Catholic charities in Canada, which is run by a priest and is part of the Better Business Bureau and a registered Canadian charity. Please be better informed before lumping all Catholics as scam artists.
Another generalization is that the Catholic Church is “a group that has always presented misleading intentions and ignored its own teachings” (emphasis mine). If you are referring to the sex abuse scandals, please see the above paragraph addressing this. If you are speaking about other misleading intentions and hypocrisies, please specify these with proof before unjustly criticizing groups of people.
One thing that you state correctly is that the Church has “proven itself unworthy of salvation.” Yes, you’re right. The Church as an institution cannot merit salvation since it is not a human with a soul. Even the Church, as a body of people baptized into the Catholic faith, are unworthy of salvation. We are taught that salvation can never be earned, and is a gift freely given. Thank you for accurately representing that theology.

Marie Boston and Maria Lee Wah,
University of Calgary students

Disclaimer: letters do not necessarily reflect the Gauntlet’s views.