In Saudi Arabia, there's no separation of church and state. The religious hierarchy is a government institution - paid, hired, and chosen by the government (PBS "Frontline," "Saudi Time Bomb?" Nov. 9, 2001).

The Wahhabi religion in Saudi Arabia teaches the Salafi version of the Muslim religion. Salafis are "intolerant to other Muslims that are not Salafis." The Salafi religion "carries a message of hate against Saudi citizens who are not Salafi." Saudi books say that Jews and Christians are "free game for violent acts," and these books could be found in the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. ("Frontline").

The government controls all education, and Shia cannot teach religious subjects in Saudi Arabia. What my fellow South Carolinian Eugene Robinson calls "murderous philosophy" (MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Jan. 7, 2015) is taught to 14-year-olds in the ninth grade in Saudi Arabia.

The terrorism in Paris was caused by a newspaper/magazine running a cartoon making fun of Muhammad of the Muslim religion. A similar reaction could occur in the United States if the press ran a cartoon making fun of Jesus Christ.

In The New York Times (Dec. 28, 2014) Eric Schmitt targets Islamic State psychology. Schmitt quotes Maj. Gen. Michael K. Nagata: "We do not understand the movement, and until we do, we are not going to defeat it. We have not defeated the idea. We do not even understand the idea."

The "idea" is taught in the schools in Saudi Arabia. We learned in Vietnam that the military can't change a culture.

We've learned in Iraq that three religions in the Mideast can't form a cohesive, democratic government. And with the ISIS onslaught, we'll have to learn that the military can't change religion. What we call "extreme" in the Mideast is taught in the schools, controlled by government and practiced by Muslims in the Mideast who contribute to ISIS.

Freedom of speech is restricted against crying out "Fire!" in a crowded theater.

Now, freedom of the press should be restricted against cartoons making fun of religion.

Freedom of religion should be restricted against killing others of a different religion.

ERNEST F. HOLLINGS

Calhoun Street

Charleston

Reading the Jan. 3 headline about Folly Beach, "Harbor deepening will hurt Folly, mayor says," one wonders when (if?) scientists will ever be consulted concerning the future. I recently completed a Geology 101 course at College of Charleston, wherein the professor stated that the problems with Folly Beach are caused by the jetties.

(I won't explain the science here, but his teaching is corroborated by most others in the field.)

One has to wonder how much longer there will even be a Folly Beach.

Upon my arrival in these parts in the fall of 1962, I walked up to the Morris Island Lighthouse on somewhat solid ground during high tide.

Anyone tried that recently at low tide?

Frank A. Freeman

King Charles Circle

Summerville

Thank you, President Obama, for a successful 2014 year: for significant growth in my stock portfolio, for a $2.16 per gallon fill-up on my New Year trip, and most importantly for providing an affordable health care plan to my daughter, an Afghanistan war veteran.

When transferred from the S.C. National Guard last June into the Navy inactive reserve, her health benefits were terminated till completion of law school and transfer to active duty status as a JAG officer, which occurs this coming September.

Obamacare navigators helped her acquire affordable health care during her transitional period. I wonder how many more veterans have benefited from Obamacare during transitional periods.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is vilified by associating its benefit for all needy people with a medical welfare program for the "undeserving."

The cost to tax-paying citizens is comparable to infrastructure investment. Instead of investing in roads and bridges, tax-paying citizens are investing in employee infrastructure, resulting in a healthier, more efficient workforce to benefit the economy.

Daniel Fifis

Romain Road

McClellanville

Sen. Fritz Hollings, in his Jan. 1 commentary, said he believes what we need in 2015 is a value added tax (VAT) and bipartisanship. I respectively dissent.

His assertion that 2013 corporate taxes brought in $288 billion and a 7 percent VAT would have collected $985 billion actually makes a strong case against the VAT.

Why in the world would any person be in favor of extracting yet another $657 billion out of the wealth producing side of our nation's economy and transferring it to the wealth consuming/destroying Leviathan on the Potomac. That insatiable beast can be depended on to dissipate those billions through various degrees of waste, fraud and abuse.

Would those additional funds be used to balance the budget?

Poppycock. The Republican and Democratic establishment types who are in charge of the D.C. cesspool are spending other people's money, and if doing so maintains their positions of power then spend they will.

Our only hope is a balanced budget amendment and a better class of politicians. I am afraid that leaves us with very little hope.

As to bipartisanship, isn't that what got us to the present sorry state of affairs?

People who knew better compromised their principles in the name of bipartisanship, and here we are no longer free and independent citizens of a truly representative democracy but rather subjects of an all-powerful central government.The good senator is unhappy that large sums of money are required when running for office, and most especially the Senate. The wise framers made senators appointed by their respective states' general assemblies and, in doing so, forestalled that which troubles him.

Politicians who knew better compromised with progressives, and the 17th Amendment was passed. Now Senate candidates must compete for funding on a national basis. The cure is to repeal the 17th Amendment.

Walter D. Carr

Ashley River Road

Charleston

A Dec. 29 letter found fault with the commentary by Kirkpatrick Sale regarding Gen. William T. Sherman's destructive march through the South in 1864 and '65.

The reader's point regarding Mr. Sale's use of the broad term "history of civilization" is well taken.

While I can't speak for Mr. Sale, I suspect he was referring to modern history and not the barbarity of ancient warfare. Certainly by the mid-19th century, civilized societies rarely directed warfare against unarmed civilians as was Sherman's goal.

The reader goes on to defend Abraham Lincoln's intent in his 1864 inaugural address as "non-malicious," but it reminds me of an arsonist who, after burning the church, makes a small contribution to the congregation's building fund.

There are Lincoln apologists who, no matter what, believe Lincoln was a noble savior. They overlook the grand hypocrisy of Lincoln eagerly preserving his all-important Union "of the people, by the people and for the people" at the point of a bayonet. Why was that forced union worth the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, the undoing of the U.S. Constitution and the forced occupation and near total destruction of half the country?

I don't know how this reader defines "malicious," but it appears he, in his own words, "has allowed personal demons to get in the way of historical analysis."

I want to thank Mr. Sale, who is not even from the South, for reminding us South Carolinians what really happened here 150 years ago.

Bill Norris

Splitshot Circle

Mount Pleasant