Letters for October 4, 2001
Love thy neighbors
As we naturally focus on national and global politics, let us not forget our small corner of the world. Let us live up to our tradition as an enlightened university community. Are you aware that fellow Chicoans are frightened—not because they fear another terrorist attack, but because they fear their neighbors?
Those whose ancestors hail from the Middle and Far East or who embrace Islam have been threatened, cursed and spat upon, right here in Chico. People who have always proudly worn their native dress and head coverings are now forced to wear Western clothing. That one must mask one’s essential self and spirituality to feel safe in Chico is intolerable.
Please do your part to educate and contradict those who say and do hateful things. Please do your part to reach out to those who could be persecuted, to let them know that you view them as treasured members of our diverse, dynamic community. Let us not compound this tragedy.
The Pat and Jerry Show
I was not aware that I (and others) “caused” the recent acts of terrorism in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. That is, until Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, two well-known “Christians,” weighed in to tell the world that (and I quote), “I really believe the pagans, the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and lesbians, who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who tried to secularize America, I point in their face and say, ‘You helped to make this happen.’ “ Wow!
This long and rambling shotgun approach to historical causation is ready-made for people who like easy, simplistic explanations to complex problems. Even worse is the notion that all our problems would go away if America embraced theocracy. Dump the U.S. Constitution, dump the Bill of rights and dump the cursed 14th Amendment.
Say no to Falwell, Robertson and their ilk, and say it publicly.
How things work
Re: George Wright [“Going down the wrong path,” CN&R essay Sept. 20]. I must say that if this is the type of thinking taught at our universities today, we as a country are in big trouble.
George says the Arabs hate us for our military presence in the Middle East. I wonder if George has ever been to a Planning Commission meeting in Butte County where companies would like to build a new mining facility? The presence of force is sometimes needed to control the crowd in their anger. Nobody likes to see the mining of the planet, but society enjoys and benefits from the products. Third World countries are far more advanced with the benefit of world trade and technology we provide. I seriously doubt that the Arabians have become impoverished from their trade with the rest of the world.
In case you weren’t watching, America was attacked, thousands of innocent lives were destroyed, our way of life, our freedom, our heritage, our children are threatened. Americans are strong, proud and free, and we will fight to retain our way of life. Like President Bush said, “You are either with us, or you are against us.”
received via email
The corporate line
The single point in George Wright’s essay that I would like to question is the phrase “corporate-owned media.” As in, “the corporate-owned media have failed to tell us that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency fostered and funded Osama bin Laden in our war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan during the 1980s.” The perfidy of the American media is all but a mantra of a few leftist ideologues in the Political Science Department at Chico State. As if thousands of newspapers, broadcasters, magazines, journals all spout a single “corporate-media” line.
Any well-informed American knows about the support, covert and otherwise, that the United States provided to just about anybody who effectively fought Soviet expansionism in the Cold War. Where did the American public get that information? Church newsletters? Boy Scout troop bulletins? The corporate-owned media have reported and discussed and analyzed, from the right and from the left, this fact and every other fact and every other personal opinion and every hypothesis Mr. Wright expressed. The American media, corporate-owned or not, know that to survive they must present what their readership, accustomed to the values of an open society, demand. And that is diversity of opinion.
I am deeply disturbed at the thought that Professor Wright’s students at Chico State might learn from him to distrust all but the narrow spectrum of leftist opinion that he represents. What we need in the days ahead is not to belittle the incredibly wide range of news and opinion sources that is available to us, but to take fullest advantage of it with open and critical minds.
I did not attend school here in Chico, but after reading George Wright’s essay in the News & Review I am beginning to understand why Chico State’s reputation hasn’t been built on its academics. The ironic thing is that I agree with some of the points Wright tries feebly to make, but the tactics he uses are absolutely inexcusable and greatly undermine any credibility the author may have had. A couple of items in that article really stand out.
First of all, I’m pretty sure that Bill Clinton never declared war on Islam. Second, since when do writers quote themselves to make a point? I’m sorry, that article was simply an exercise in extreme egotism and personal bias.
But really, what can you expect from someone who uses a candlelight vigil meant to honor those who died in a horrible tragedy to advance his own personal and political agenda?
I have spent the greater part of two days trying to figure out why the News & Review would give voice to a clueless, hate-filled, United States-bashing George Wright when our country’s just received the biggest sucker punch of all time. I suspect this inquiry would result in pious statements on how the News & Review is simply attempting to voice alternative viewpoints. But that doesn’t hold water. There are an infinite number of alternative viewpoints that did not make it into your publication last week.
The truth is you see some merit in Mr. Wright’s opinion or you wouldn’t have published it. For what it is worth, your editorial judgment and timing suck.
George Wright has every right to say whatever he wants, and you are free to print it. Having said that, he and you and those businesses that support you by purchasing advertising in your paper have no right to my support. Maybe they, like me, are only now growing up. Lots of things changed on Sept. 11. For one, your paper’s just not cute any more.
It took courage, in today’s super-patriotic climate, for George Wright to write the essay—and for the paper to print it. The viewpoint is one I seldom hear in Chico. This is sad because the logic is irrefutable. If our country’s only response to the tragedy of Sept. 11 is to wage a military campaign against terrorists, we will be setting ourselves up for still more attacks in the future. As long as conditions of poverty and hopelessness exist in any nation, there will be people willing to follow madmen.
What if we spent as much time and effort to assemble a coalition of nations to fight the poverty and starvation of millions of people as we do to fight the relatively small number of terrorists? What if we kept our dues to the United Nations current and worked with nongovernmental organizations to alleviate the suffering of people all over the globe? What if the United States were not only the world’s military superpower but its humanitarian exemplar as well? It boggles the mind!
Elaine R. Peterson
Don’t blame U.S.
On Sept. 13, Congress passed legislation supporting military action against terrorists groups and nations that support them by a combined vote of 518-1. Over the weekend, the usually fractious entertainment industry banded together as one to raise money for the victims, and Gallup released polling results giving President Bush the highest job approval ratings ever. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have denounced the Taliban and ceased diplomatic relations with the rogue regime. Afghanistan stands alone. Almost. In an unprecedented worldwide stand against a despicable act, only a handful of loners hold a different opinion. One of them is Professor George Wright.
I’m not as surprised that one of our university’s teachers would hold such a contrary position, as I am that your paper devoted three pages to his “blame America first” diatribe. The vast, majority opinion is that the United States and its leaders do not seek revenge, but rather justice and an end to such atrocities. Unlike the gutless Clinton, Bush and his team are seeking worldwide consensus and battle on a number of fronts, with military action as only a part of the overall plan. Blaming the U.S. for Middle East “economic insecurity, political repression and social disintegration” is preposterous.
The blame goes to the perpetrators of the crime and those who support them. Professor, individual and personal responsibility is a concept that escapes you. Thank God my kids will never have to be subjected to the nonsense that emanates from your mind and mouth.
God bless America!
No more war
Only two days after the tragic bombing of the World Trade Center, President Bush declared war on the perpetrators and any country that tries to harbor them. While I understand his response, I wish he had given himself and the rest of us time to grieve. Instead of threats of more violence, I wish he had expressed more openly and fully his own grief, shock and fear over what had occurred. I wish my fellow Americans would ask themselves why is it that these terrorists hate us so much.
Perhaps we could use this great suffering that has come to us to understand the suffering of others. Maybe we could understand from where this suffering has arisen. I do not believe that it has come because we are the good and they are the evil.
I see no evidence in all the chapters of this Earth’s long human history that war stops war. It seems that all the violence done by us and others has led us to this tragedy. I long for a leader who has the courage of Chief Joseph when he said, “Hear me, my chiefs. I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever.”