Attorney's comments show elitist viewpoint
In a Jan. 5, Vindicator article, Atty. David Betras commented on the plea bargain for murder committed by his client. Mr. Betras said a black kid growing up in the city has two choices, carry a gun for protection and end up in prison or don't carry a gun and end up dead. He further stated that people in the suburbs do not understand this.
What I do understand is that Mr. Betras' comment is outrageous, elitist, ignorant, and, yes, racist.
Mr. Betras has insulted every black family in the city that encourages its children to go to school, obey the law, worship on Sunday, and work to ensure they will have a rewarding and productive life.
That happens to be the path chosen by the majority of families in the city, black or white.
While I do not know the specifics, I will concede Mr. Betras' client probably lived in a difficult environment. However, Mr. Betras seems to be justifying his client's actions with the philosophy, "everybody does it." They don't. Mr. Betras seems to be the one who needs to be enlightened.
Teen writer addresses valid musical concerns
In her Jan. 4 article "Seeking musical ecstasy outside the mainstream," Elizabeth Cannon asks where are all our modern Bob Dylans and Frank Zappas.
I'll tell you where they are.
Most are living in big cities working 9-to-5 jobs that they hate. They play on weekends in small, sweaty little dives deep in the city where they perform their magic in front of maybe a couple of hundred people if they're lucky.
All of their recordings have to be paid for out of their own pockets, and studio time isn't cheap.
Most are on small independent record labels that struggle financially month to month.
Some of the musicians skip a meal just to buy guitar strings. There just isn't enough money to make sure their music reaches the masses. It usually reaches a few fans who remain loyal to the band forever and pray their little band never "sells out."
They may not be making millions but at least they don't have to compromise with some big jerk record executive who wants to program them or change a lyric or part of a song.
Ed Sullivan tried to get Jim Morrison to change a lyric from the Doors "Light My Fire" on the part "Girl we couldn't get much higher" because Sullivan thought it suggested drug use, when it really meant "being high" on a woman's love.
When it came time for Morrison to sing it, he didn't compromise and sang the original lyric. He got in trouble but didn't conform.
I found musical ecstasy outside the mainstream years ago. I'm glad Ms. Cannon is not "reeled in by all the hype" as she says.
I never saw myself years ago listening to jazz, classical or Indian sitar music, but now I love it. It's great when my friends' children say they love to listen to the Beatles.
Thank you for your enlightening article. A lot of teens should learn from the Elizabeth Cannons of this world.
Mosque's name derives from act of bowing down
All who read it ought to feel grateful to you for the front page article on "Understanding Islam" that appeared on Sunday, Dec. 30. Far too many Americans, well-read on a myriad of other subjects, are to a sad extent ignorant about Islam. It is quite clear that you firmly believe that to promote understanding is to promote peace. On that we should all agree.
Having said that let me say that I was quite taken aback to note that your staff writer, Maraline Kubik, allowed her otherwise excellent write-up to be marred by a glaring error in the name of a Youngstown mosque. She wrote it as Masqid Al-Khair. The first word is correctly written Masjid.
The word is derived from the Arabic sajada which means to "bow down" or "prostrate oneself" in worship. The noun is sujood. The M initial indicates a place where sujood takes place or is performed. Thus masjid is the Arabic word for where Muslims worship. But not any kind of worship. The Arabic word for the place where Christians worship is kaneesa. Also of interest may be the fact that the Arabic word for rug or carpet is sajjada, derived from the same root word sajada. That is because it is required that when praying, Muslims prepare a place on which to kneel and bow. Most often it is a rug or carpet. But it can also be a garment or some matting or even a newspaper. Connoisseurs of oriental carpets will be aware that dealers in such may offer "prayer rugs."
No, I am not a Muslim. But I have studied Arabic and was for many years a teacher in a country in the Middle East.
WILLIS A. McGILL
Paper should also address beliefs of other religions
Thank you for your three-page article on understanding Islam. During these times, it is good to have a better understanding of what each religion believes. Your article helped me to understand the basic tenets that many Muslims base their spiritual lives on.
In the coming weeks, I believe this is an excellent opportunity to give equal attention to the other main religious beliefs that are found in our community, Judaism and Christianity, so that our Muslim friends can truly understand what their neighbor believes. The main similarity being belief in a higher, merciful, just power in God the Creator of the universe. A main difference among them is that Islam has no savior for their sin, Judaism is still waiting for salvation in the messiah, and Christianity received theirs over 2000 years ago in the person of Christ Jesus, the spotless Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world.