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According to the Geneva Convention, classification as a non-POW is done by an independent third party, not on a whim. And if those who are detained are not pows, they should be charged with a specific crime. LEIF STORM Regina, Sask.
A Somber Birthday
I appreciated Patti Davis' poignant article about her father Ronald Reagan, his Alzheimer's disease and plans for his 91st birthday [FIRST PERSON, Feb. 4]. I think I speak for many Americans who miss seeing news about our former President. Although out of the political arena, Reagan will always be a public figure. By opening a window on his medical condition and life today, you have made us feel closer to him and more able to share the family's pain. EMILIO SCHLABITZ Culver City, Calif.
Apparently nothing is too sacred for Davis in her endless quest for publicity, not even her father's fragile condition. She was quite happy to profit by writing self-pitying accounts of her childhood when President Reagan was in the public eye and she could churn up interest from the media. Now, at a time when he is losing his battle with Alzheimer's, Davis has reinvented herself as the caring daughter, using trite images plucked from some sentimental novel. Next she will be wangling television appearances as an Alzheimer's-patient caregiver. ANNE CAMERON Glendale, Calif.
The Global Village of New York
Kudos to Michael Elliott for his down-to-earth description of New York City as the champion of globalization in its most positive form [ESSAY, Feb. 4]. As a displaced New Yorker and the daughter of immigrants, I read his piece several times. Elliott captured what makes the city work. It is loving one another's food, celebrating one another's holidays (even if we're not sure what they are about), riding the subways like sardines packed in a can and working together--and dying together, as Sept. 11 proved. It is a living U.N. The macrocosm of the world should be more like the microcosm of New York. CLAIRE LISSANCE Albuquerque, N.M.
Loved Elliott's celebration of New York's diversity. This joyful view of our world communities in America was such a blessing! My thanks to Elliott for embracing our present and future. ELAINE JOE Oakland, Calif.
First Amendment Fracas
RE your report on the firing of Muslim professor Sami al-Arian from the faculty of the University of South Florida because of his anti-Israel stand [SOCIETY, Feb. 4]: This firing is a violation of First Amendment rights, to say nothing about al-Arian's being a tenured professor. When self-righteous citizens like the university president who dismissed al-Arian disregard the law and ignore the Constitution because they disagree with an individual's opinion, they become the very terrorists they profess to abhor. PHIL WILT Van Nuys, Calif.
To call al-Arian's views pro-Muslim is slightly wrongheaded. One who rants "Death to Israel" and attracts notorious leaders of Islamic Jihad is not pro-Muslim but a militant hatemonger. We want our teachers to be positive role models for our children. Diabolic creeps like al-Arian do not belong in U.S. institutions of higher learning or any educational institution at all. PAUL HARDY Tacoma, Wash.