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Brent Jaenicke, Published December 20 2008

Why does Forum give Schaible space?

Thief River Falls, Minn.

I wonder exactly why Calvin L. Schaible is an occasional contributor to your editorial page. The column published on Dec. 13 sickened me with its oversimplification of a global threat and its parsing of words that threatens to stain your image as a competent Editorial Board.

Before Schaible indicts the Islamic community, he takes a direct shot at environmentalists. I am not sure what one has to do with the other, but the drivel that follows makes clear his inability to construct a logical, valid argument. The greatest threats to our world’s leaders are systemic ignorance, extremism and poverty. I would say global warming comes in fourth but could certainly be addressed by solving the first three.

But the main crux of Schaible’s argument concerns militant Islamic extremism. Schaible parses these words together like a fascist fundamentalist grammar cop. My favorite part of his McCarthy-like indictment of the Islamic faith is his distinction between nonviolent militant and violent militant Islamic extremists. I am quite sure that militants of any name are violent by definition. Oh, and the “text books funded by Saudi Arabia used in our public schools” comment also makes me squirm a little with its fringe right-wing radio speakisms. Schaible uses language like a child, mindlessly putting blocks on top of each other and then gleefully toppling the project just to watch it fall apart and blowing bubbles with its own spit.

Perhaps the greatest threat to our pluralistic, liberal society is the fundamentalism that both Schaible and the Islamic extremists share in their narrow view of the world and their willingness to condemn each other without inquiry or discovery. Or, perhaps the greatest threat is the lack of oversight of editorial boards.