I was jarred by some of the descriptions of the German Chancellor in "Merkel's Moment" [Jan. 11]. While the article does a nice job of summing up Angela Merkel's rise through the sexist ranks of German politics, it contradicts itself by using such outdated gender stereotypes as diminutive, frail and kittenish to describe the first female Chancellor of Germany. Though subtle, this sort of language is damaging. One step forward, three steps back. And to think, the writer is a woman.
Kate Karczewski, CHICAGO
As far as her country's role in Afghanistan is concerned, Merkel is helped by the fact that in three consecutive coalition governments, prominent members of all parties except one have supported the military effort, including former heavyweights like her predecessor, Gerhard Schröder. Also, citizens who are normally lukewarm about employing soldiers abroad get increasingly frustrated with human rights women's in particular being trampled on by the Taliban in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. She may do it at a snail's pace occasionally, but Angela Merkel takes things one step at a time.
Werner Radtke, PADERBORN, GERMANY
Lessons from Flight 253
The recent attempted attack on Flight 253 gave me a feeling of déjà vu [Jan. 11]. The information about the suspect was available; U.S. agencies didn't coordinate. Wasn't the Department of Homeland Security created precisely to prevent such situations?
Adam Brostow, EMMAUS, PA., U.S.
I'm disappointed by the knee-jerk reaction of the U.S. government to issues of terrorism, and even more disappointed by the insipid response of the Nigerian government. Abdulmutallab was radicalized in London and trained in Yemen, yet the U.S. government wants to subject Nigerians to humiliation at airports around the world. To the Nigerian government: Isn't it time you stood up for us?
A.E. Akan, DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA
America needs to solve its problems by itself and for itself. Making Nigeria bear the cross for some of its inefficiencies is face-saving, but won't guarantee the safety of Americans at home or abroad.
Zainab Sandah, ABUJA
TV, newspapers and periodicals give terrorists exactly what they want: exposure. The father should be the hero for reporting his son to the authorities.
Jim Yeros, ATHENS
Let's Get Practical
Thank you, Ms. Ripley [Jan. 11]! I am grateful to law enforcement, but members of the public need to realize they also have working minds and bodies something folks like those on Flight 253 have shown us.
Courtney Schaefer, MAPLE GROVE, MINN. U.S.
Perhaps we would all be a bit safer if gung-ho security types focused on effective methods of tracking terrorists instead of treating even 80-year-old little ladies like potential bombers. Taking a lesson from Israeli security profiling and tracking would be more effective than treating all of us innocent passengers like criminals.
Brian Eyler, MOERFELDEN, GERMANY
Giving citizens more power to act in these situations would mean giving individuals the right to judge preemptively whether a person is a terrorist or not. But the power to be judge and executioner is of necessity the prerogative of the state alone. Obviously we "talk like victims" because we are the targets of terrorism. I don't find it "intolerable to travel" and certainly do not see an alternative to giving Grandma a pat down. What are you proposing? Profiling passengers on age? Then we are just one step away from doing the same for gender, race and religion.
Victor Rohm, TORONTO