Letters for February 20, 2003
I have this recurring fantasy that about a year ago President Bush scheduled a private White House showing of the film The Lord of the Rings because he had heard the book was written by a Christian. Although he occasionally dozed, when the film was over he rose with determined conviction that he had grasped its essential point. We have arrived at an epochal moment in the history of the West. A great enemy stands before us. Who will have the courage and the single-mindedness to seize the moment and bring salvation to the whole world through the unique power of the ring? Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld, having watched the film together, decide that history has called them to become the fearless Fellowship of the Ring.
Then I see into the future as The Lord of the Rings wins the Oscar for best director. The director delivers an abject apology to the American people and to the watching world and accepts full responsibility for misleading that most important audience of one—the commander-in-chief. He pleads with the president to understand that the whole point of Tolkien’s work is that the Fellowship of the Ring is formed to renounce the power of the ring, the myth of redemptive violence for which it stands and the terrible belief that salvation can come to the earth only through the purifying violence of war. The question of this terrifying myth is whether humanity can summon the courage to renounce the ring and deliver it forever to the lake of fire from which it came. In one of the most tragic misreadings of modern history, the president has imagined he must create a lake of fire in order to save the world.
Byrd vs. hawks
I am writing to express the pride I feel in my fellow Americans and citizens of this planet in their courage to take to the streets in cities across the globe in protest of George W. Bush’s impending war in Iraq.
On Feb. 12 Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., gave an eloquent and thoughtful speech to the U.S. Senate. Go to byrd.senate.gov/byrd_newsroom/byrd_news_feb/news_2003_february/news_2003_february_9.html
Here is the conclusion to Senator Byrd’s speech: “To engage in war is always to pick a wild card. And war must always be a last resort, not a first choice. I truly must question the judgment of any president who can say that a massive unprovoked military attack on a nation which is over 50 percent children is ‘in the highest moral traditions of our country.’ This war is not necessary at this time. Pressure appears to be having a good result in Iraq. Our mistake was to put ourselves in a corner so quickly. Our challenge is to now find a graceful way out of a box of our own making. Perhaps there is still a way if we allow more time.”
I fear that Bush and his merry band of chicken hawks are too busy paving the way for their corporate paymasters’ headlong rush to enslave the world for globalization to listen to such words of wisdom.
One of the arguments by those who oppose war against Iraq is that the United States has not traditionally been an aggressor in the use of military force. While there have been exceptions to this rule—the invasion of Granada and the removal of Manuel Noriega as president of Panama come to mind—this assertion is by and large true.
However, the events of 9/11 and the prospect of Saddam Hussein obtaining a nuclear weapon justify a new, pre-emptive use of military force.
Saddam has used poison gas against his own people in Kurdistan, murdered anyone who did not fully support him, attempted to assassinate George Bush Sr., and has no doubt covertly supported terrorist acts against others in the West.
Saddam attacked Iran without provocation in an attempt to expand his empire by seizing the Strait of Hormuz and again used chemical weapons, this time against Iranian solders.
Within a few years he launched a military attack against Kuwait to seize land and oil. When a U.N. coalition drove him out, he flooded the Persian Gulf with crude oil and set fire to hundreds of Kuwaiti oil wells.
Simply put, Saddam Hussein is a psychopath who is likely on the verge of obtaining nuclear weapons. Based on his history, is there any doubt he will be willing to use nuclear weapons if the U.S. or any other country stands up to his next aggression?
The fact that Germany and France are attempting to protect Saddam and criticizing the United States for its determination to remove Saddam from power is almost incomprehensible. But then again, if it weren’t for the willingness of the United States to stand up to tyrants like Saddam Hussein, both Germans and French alike would be saluting the swastika.
So would anti-war protesters in this country.
More than oil
Peace activists are so oddly focused on the loss of innocent Iraqi citizens. Are innocent American lives important? Is the security of our own country important? Are our freedoms and civil rights in this country important? I think we all may answer yes to these questions. And we all must not forget that our freedom and civil rights were brought to us and still exist because of those willing to fight and die for these cherished American values.
Peace activists like Emily Alma [“Dangers of Bush’s War,” Letters, Feb. 6] will argue that this potential war is not about protecting our freedom and rights. They say if we fight back things will only get worse. That’s like saying you should not use discipline on out-of-control teenagers because they will only get worse and might not like you. They say this war against terrorism is an excuse for the greedy Bush administration to invade our privacy, clamp down on our civil rights and most of all to get its hands on more oil.
Have peace activists and those who “just say no” to war really considered for just one moment that their theory about this all being over oil just might not be true? What smoking gun have they produced that proves their theory about this all being over oil is correct?
Save our trees
At the Internal Affairs Committee meeting Feb. 11, City Councilmembers Dan Herbert and Steve Bertagna trashed the proposed tree ordinance, obstructing a coherent presentation of the consensus plan developed by a panel of experts, concerned citizens and professional city staff.
The renowned Herbert/Bertagna act consumed most of the time available for public comment. As chairman, Herbert manipulated the meeting, frustrating public comment with his famous practice of harassing those with opposing points of view. He then guillotined the discussion, pressing a 2-l vote against the proposal, Councilmember Coleen Jarvis dissenting.
Private property is an important issue. But it is not your, or my, private-property rights Herbert is concerned with, but the rights of private and commercial developers.
The ordinance would hardly affect the ordinary citizen. How many of us want to cut down healthy big old trees or subdivide our lots for profit?
If your trees are dangerous, dying or in the way of a reasonable home extension, then a permit could be obtained. Non-native invasive species and orchard trees would be exempt, as would trees of significance on existing single-family home lots of one-quarter acre or less.
Scot Wineland, an experienced Chico arborist, tells us, “We are losing at least 1,000 mature trees from our canopy every year.” We cannot afford that loss.
I encourage the 3,000 petitioners for a tree ordinance and the thousands who favor one to act in support of TreeAction’s modest tree ordinance.
The unreasonable fears being promoting will damage our city, its beauty, its ecology and us.