It is only natural that there will be some in favor of Cindy Sheehan's protest and others against it [op-ed, Aug. 18]. But when people express agreement with Ms. Sheehan it is not in support of her as a person but in opposition to the war in Iraq.

We cannot expect Ms. Sheehan or any other antiwar protester to be perfectly candid, nonpartisan and wear a halo. We should just expect her to be what she is: an indignant, determined mother. That she will be vilified is to be expected. But in doing so her detractors show an ignorance of civilized dissent.

Benito Juarez, who was president of Mexico and a great reformer and fighter for democracy, said, "Between individuals, as between nations, respect for the rights of others is peace." We should all learn this lesson.

MARIA A. MARTINEZ

Miami

Whether the topic is John G. Roberts Jr., Karl Rove or Cindy Sheehan, it is disturbing to see how quickly the country divides into partisan camps, each obsessed with tearing the other down.

Who is working for the good of the nation as a whole? Common ground has become the rarest piece of real estate.

TIM WARD

Bethesda