Letters for June 12, 2008

‘My, what a “left-handed” apology’
Re: “Err apparent” (In My Eyes, by Evan Tuchinsky, CN&R, June 5):

I was disappointed to read your mea culpa regarding your decision to run an anonymous anti-Semitic letter [May 29’s “Backstory of Israel"]. My, what a “left-handed” apology it turned out to be! The tone somehow manages to paint yourself as the victim of this misjudgment and deflects criticism toward those who complained to you.

Your response to several of the issues raised here still confuses me.

In what way is such garbage part of the “national discourse"? Where is this discourse supposedly taking place, on some racist Web site? Real research involves more than Google or Wikipedia; the Web, wonderful though it may be, is no place to develop critical thinking. You owe it to yourself and your readers to undertake a bit of self-education—you will find that the anonymous writer’s screed is part and parcel of an old libelous calumny, placed in a “modern” context.

And why do you have so much concern for the safety of the letter writer and so little concern for the local Jewish community? I regretfully inform you that despite its great physical beauty, historically Butte County has contained an ugly undercurrent of racism and anti-Semitism that includes physical violence.

Freedom of the press and our heritage of free speech are not at issue here; there is a lot of misinformed idiocy that we allow under cover of opinion. But is it your duty to provide a forum to every vicious idea that comes down the pike?

I want better from you. And yes, you may use my name.

Michael Mulcahy

Editor’s note: Newscasts, and critics thereof (i.e. The Daily Show/Colbert Report), renewed the discourse when John McCain disavowed two pastors whose endorsements he’d previously valued. Regarding Mr. Mulcahy’s second concern, the letter in question didn’t strike me as “vicious” or a call for violence—which is why I so value the different perspectives of others, and wrote what I hope others read as a sincere column.

My, what ‘pro-Israel rhetoric’
As soon as I read “Backstory” I knew there would be the rants about anti-Semitism and “Holocaust denier.” Any time anyone tries to speak anything that might criticize Israel, they are crucified. It is also interesting that the CN&R donated twice the space to pro-Israel rhetoric as the letter took.

I don’t understand how we can continue to blindly support the most warlike nation in the Middle East. If it were not for Israel, we probably would not have become involved in Iraq.

Israel has confiscated lands from the Palestinians and then built a wall to keep them in abject poverty when at all possible. A person might think they would have learned from their ancestors being locked into ghettos, but they seem to be cursed with the same curse we are, not to learn from history.

I tell you this: If some other nation decided California was to become the new homeland to people they didn’t want to live around; sent them here; took away all of our weapons; armed those people to the teeth (including nuclear weapons); and those people then started to build cities and walls between me and my relatives, making me go miles out of my way through onerous checkpoints to get anywhere, then you can bet your sweet ass I would think about becoming a terrorist.

Richard Meyers
Butte Valley

Global allegiance
Re: “Putting flags in their place,” (Downstroke, CN&R, June 5):

I was dismayed that the City Council decided Chico would pay the cost of flying the U.S. flag but require outside groups to pay the cost to fly the Earth flag. Why is the U.S. flag a priority?

I respect the veteran who tore down the U.N. flag in Korea, but I don’t respect his action. This attitude of U.S. supremacy over other countries has created much of the imbalance in today’s world. It led to the destruction of Iraq and hundreds of thousands of lives lost. It justifies U.S. consumption of one-quarter of the world’s energy resources while we produce a large portion of greenhouse gases, yet refuse to make commitments to reduce our carbon footprint.

Patriotism is like rooting for the Lakers: It’s fun to have a competitive spirit, but is one group of people of higher value than another? Which does God root for?

The “grizzled veterans waving small American flags” likely served our country well, paid a high personal price, and in no small measure helped preserve democracy. I truly don’t mean to minimize them. But we live in a different time. We have a global economy, global AIDS epidemic, global food shortage, global warming. We have one planetary ecosystem, one ocean, one atmosphere, one web of life.

Let’s raise high the Earth flag to the glory of our planet Earth home, and place “Old Glory” respectfully below on the flag pole, in our country’s policies and in our hearts.

Emily Alma

Visionary investment
Re: “Despite budget crisis, arts groups get funding” (Newslines, by Robert Speer, CN&R, June 5):

I was encouraged to read of the City Council’s decision to fund certain arts programs such as Artoberfest and the World Music Festival. Subsidizing these programs and other related events will continue to help Chico’s emerging tourism industry make good use of the transient occupancy tax, revenue that is generated by visitors to our town.

Tourism is the third-largest retail industry in the United States, generating more than $700 billion annually while sustaining more than 12 million jobs. Clearly an important sector in our ever-fragile economy, this industry is seen by many cities as an essential component to the health of sound fiscal policies. The same should hold true for Chico.

To that end, I encourage our City Council to look at the current distribution of the TOT and seriously explore the feasibility of dedicating 100 percent of TOT collections to an organization whose sole purpose is marketing Chico as a destination for discretionary pleasure travelers, group tours and conferences.

This simply makes good sense. Many state tourism offices reference studies that show for every dollar spent by a community to promote visitation, upwards of seven dollars is returned in direct expenditures.

At a time when Chico, like many other cities, faces continuing budget challenges and revenue shortfalls, investing in one of America’s healthiest industries will be a sound decision reaping well-deserved financial rewards.

Roger S. Beadle

Some head-y thoughts
Re: “Relief is in sight” (Downstroke, CN&R, June 5):

When the council requested the new restrooms [on the north side of One-Mile’s Sycamore Pool] be as “green” as possible, I hope this meant they be built exactly the same as the ones on the south side. Green means more than what is currently fashionable in the green-building industry. It should mean construction that is meant to last for years, thus removing the need or incentive to rebuild in a decade or so.

The old restrooms are spartan in design and have persisted and functioned for decades. Let’s have the same for the north side.

One question: Where will these facilities be constructed? There’s not a lot of room, except for the parking lot. Will these new buildings take up some more space formerly allotted to foul internal-combustion machines?

Samuel Handley

A call to initiate …
Re: “IDEA leaves schools especially needy” (Guest Comment, by Eric Nilsson, CN&R, June 5):

I commend Eric Nilsson on his guest editorial regarding the IDEA [special-education] mandate. I have personally been researching this matter as well. His article was informative and true. Can you imagine how much better our public school system would be if this mandate was fully funded? Not just for California, but the entire nation.

What would help is a major letter-writing campaign to get our congresspeople advocating for this important issue. Also contact Margaret Spellings, the U.S. secretary of education. Ask what it will take to get this mandate fully funded at the 40 percent level [i.e. the promised reimbursement].

Will you join our efforts to help this cause succeed so we can guarantee our children a brighter future?

Lisa Billingsley

… and educate
Eric Nilsson’s commentary about the effort to obtain funding for special-education prompts me to respond, since his effort is misdirected. Rather than funding another inept bureaucracy, we need to address the problem at its source: children who are exposed to drugs and alcohol while in the fetal state, which creates special-needs kids.

Crack babies are a horrible example of drug abuse and should be a warning to all mothers. Harming your fetus is child abuse. Mothers should not consume drugs, alcohol or tobacco while pregnant.

I encourage Mr. Nilsson to initiate education into these matters in his school district. Prevention is the cure.

Michael M. Peters

Walk the talk, please
With CSU trustees bound and determined to grow Chico State and an administration angling for sustainability and repute as the “green” standard of the CSU system, any policies that control subsequent growth impacts to the community, including curbing the number of cars arriving each fall, would be applauded by those of us who call central Chico home.

A no-car policy for freshmen would be a worthy practice to initiate, with no easier place to begin—Chico’s walkability and bikeability are renowned. Other campuses throughout the country have been doing so for many years.

Unfortunately, city residents opposed to a large dormitory being built on campus have not yet been able to convince administrators to consider the novel policy of “priority placement” in the new dorm for students pledging not to bring cars to campus for the school year.

It seems like a good idea and a worthwhile compromise for both the institution, which is developing the unpopular project and striving for sustainability, as well as for the concerned residents who will have to live with its impacts, including the 538 car trips that the dorm is estimated to generate each day.

It is far easier to designate new construction as LEED-certified than to change habits. Administrators would also do well to acknowledge the importance of role-modeling, make the bold move back to town, and live with the results of their campaign for growth. Make an appeal (pzingg@csuchico.edu).

Christina Aranguren

What a cool concept …
Wouldn’t it be cool if soaring fuel costs caused people to stay put and get to know their neighbors? And, in doing so, people took an interest and started paying closer attention to what was going on in their neighborhoods and communities?

People might find that they actually like each other—start being more considerate of each other and stopped littering and started taking care of their yards, each other’s kids and maybe told their own dogs to shut up once in awhile.

And, while everyone was playing nice, what if people rediscovered the old American entrepreneurial spirit? Then, saw the opportunity to create little neighborhood economies, where essential living items were available within walking distance from home?

Wouldn’t it be cool to see ma-and-pa grocery stores, real farmers markets and local goods and services being provided by people you know and trust: your neighbors? And while we were doing all this friendly walkin’ and talkin’ to each other, we started losing weight and not only felt better but looked better, too?

It would be cool, wouldn’t it?

So, while gasoline is lookin’ to be $5 a gallon, instead of complaining, I’m gonna run one of my wife’s pies over to the neighbor’s house and keep my fingers crossed.

Ed Baughman

Re: “Decisive victories, except for one” (Newslines, by Evan Tuchinsky, CN&R, June 5): In recapping the District 3 Assembly race, the local assemblymen’s endorsements got reversed. Termed-out incumbent Rick Keene endorsed Dan Logue, and District 2’s Doug LaMalfa endorsed Sue Horne—so, including LaMalfa’s hand-picked successor, Jim Nielsen, each endorsed a primary winner. This has been corrected online.