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Letters from the week of March 20, 2003

I do not doubt that the U.S. should do a better job of changing our image in the Middle East. We need to encourage democracy and jettison our support of failed states that make democracy look like a bad joke. But the point remains -- some, if not most, of the Arab hatred of the U.S. is just a new manifestation of age-old plain vanilla hysteria. After some bilge about the U.S. and Israel, there exist few, if any, actual serious discussions about U.S. policy. The word "arrogance" gets thrown in our face quite a bit these days, but then again, "medieval," "ignorant" and "inconsequential" could be returned more accurately.

The Middle East once held the promise of advanced civilization and hosted a religion best known for its tolerance, discipline and respect. Only once the pipe dream of an Israel pushed into the sea and the use of religion for inherently immoral acts is jettisoned can the real, hard work of civilization-building begin. Blaming America is the easy part. We'll see if they've got the stomach for when the heavy lifting is required to make their societies better for all who live in them.

Name withheld by request

Cocked and Loaded

Too tough to die: Good article ("And Then He Killed Me [Allegedly]," Serene Dominic, February 13), but conspicuous by its absence was the famous story of Phil Spector holding the Ramones hostage at gunpoint in his mansion for several days during the recording of their End of the Century album. I think I have read that tale recounted by more than one of the Ramones in different locations, but I am pretty sure it is covered in Dee Dee's chilling autobiography in some detail.

Donny Payjack

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