Unpopular sentiments

Our Iraq invasion anniversary issue definitely angered some people. One of our delivery drivers quit over it—just a couple stops into his route, he turned around and piled his stacks of papers in our parking lot. And someone stole the rack in front of the CN&R office but took the time to take the papers out of it (so maybe it’s just a souvenir or frat-house decor).

And letters—we got letters.

“I cannot believe you have come to this.”

“I am so outraged by this display.”

“Get the fuck off your high horse.”

“Utterly tacky and tasteless.”

And that was just one writer!

When our editorial team signed off on “the dead” (March 15 Cover Story), we knew some people would appreciate the acknowledgement of each American soldier killed in Iraq—and others would object.

Some of the objections were substantive. Perhaps a memorial should feature personal stories rather than statistics. CN&R’s Sacramento and Reno counterparts ran remembrance quotes; we felt the charts and graphics offered context. And we could have expressed some of the financial costs differently—equating Butte County’s war contributions to the one-year cost of 3,610 teachers does seem a bit odd in a county with 1,805 teachers.

Fair enough.

What I object to is the contention that opposing the war and supporting the soldiers are mutually exclusive.

It does not dishonor the memories of fallen soldiers, let alone veterans, to call for the speedy recall of their comrades in arms. You may think our troops have been pointlessly endangered; you may think Operation Iraqi Freedom is justified. Neither view changes the high price we’re paying, a toll that’s even higher for 3,200 groups of loved ones.

“You do not deserve the honor of memorializing our troops,” the angriest e-mailer declared. We took no liberties other than the ones we’re guaranteed.

This week, we’re running something else that’s bound to generate angry mail: a Palestinian-friendly Guest Comment. It’s already yielded a rebuttal from Associate Editor Meredith J. Cooper, who felt it presented an opinion that shouldn’t go unchallenged.

I don’t happen to share Sharon Fritsch’s perspective, and I’ve disagreed with other commentary writers, too. That’s OK—the Guest Comment and Letters sections are supposed to convey different views. Otherwise, what’s the point in presenting public forums?

I don’t fear unpopular positions. If I did, I’d never have entertained alternate explanations of 9/11. I’d have made sure our memorial offended no one. I’d have rejected any piece that dared challenge prevailing views on Israelis and Palestinians.

“Stick to pointing fingers and labeling.” Sorry—not our thing. We’ll stick to printing provocative thoughts and constructive criticism. If that’s an unpopular sentiment too, so be it.

Popularity? Maybe inertia: After I championed Mollie Russell as Peet’s employee of the month for February, little did I know she’d still be on the board in late March. The novelty has worn off for her, so unless she’s now just a placeholder until Aubrey returns from her concert tour, how about Jenna or Matt? Spread the love, Peet’s people, spread the love.