Letters for January 13, 2005

Right Hook ignores facts
Re “Pray for guns,” (RN&R, Right Hook, Dec. 30):

The recent column, “Pray for Guns,” was one of the most disturbing pieces I have read in the past few weeks. Maybe if Mike Lafferty had given some more thought to peace activists, he would understand that in no way do most of us see this as simply “all about oil.”

We peace activists worked hard to keep Bush from going to Iraq for many reasons. For one, Iraq did not attack us on 9/11. Iraq was not a base for Al Qaida, and if Bush really meant to go after the 9/11bad guys, like he said, going to Iraq was pretty far afield.

Another reason we were so opposed to the war was because of the collateral damage we knew would result: More than 1,300 Americans dead, thousands injured, tens of thousands of Iraqis dead and injured, and a country in ruins. We can’t even repair the country because of the ongoing violence.

We foresaw what the Bush administration didn’t: a cultural divide. Bush thought he could just plant a shining democracy in Iraq for all the Middle East to follow, without paying attention to the culture of the region and country. Obviously, Bush was grossly mistaken, and the price being paid today is hundreds of lives per week.

Perhaps at our next vigil, we will pray that Lafferty gains a little more insight about peace and justice.

Lisa Stiller

Iraq war is illegal
Re “Pray for guns,” (RN&R, Right Hook, Dec. 30):

Mike Lafferty criticizes local peace activists and the Reno Anti-War Coalition for stating, among other things, that the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq are illegal. He says that “U.S. involvement in Iraq is not illegal,” since the U.S. Congress authorized the president to use force, and goes on to tell the peace movement to get a history lesson.

The fact is that the U.S. Congress is required to issue any declaration of war in order for it to be constitutional, not the president. The fact that this was bypassed in the invasion of Iraq by a servile Congress handing over to the president the power to declare war does not make the war legal, even if it opens up a loophole to say that the invasion was constitutional.

It’s clear that the invasion of Iraq violated international law, making it illegal. It is also clear that any occupation that comes from an illegal war is by extension illegal and unjust. Given the facts, the only moral thing for people in the United States to do is to join their brothers and sisters who are in the streets and demand that the United States end the occupation of Iraq and bring our troops home now. Throughout history, when nations have ignored international law and chosen to make up their own rules to their own game, things have not turned out well. Maybe it’s not the peace movement that needs a history lesson, but rather Lafferty and the rest of the war cheerleaders.

Stewart Stout

Give vigils a chance
Re “Pray for guns,” (RN&R, Right Hook, Dec. 30):

Before Michael Lafferty puts any more false words in the mouths of local peace activists in order to dismiss them, perhaps he should actually attend one of the Monday Peace Vigils he so blithely disregards. Maybe then he would hear the actual words of the veterans, families of current soldiers and others who are opposed to the U.S. attack, invasion and occupation of Iraq. It’s easy to assign motives and causes to a group one opposes and then disassemble the opposition’s presumed position. It’s a different endeavor entirely to actually listen to people with whom one disagrees. Actually listening to the other side is an important message of the peace movement. While Lafferty may actually “pray for guns,” he is welcome to attend the next peace vigil. They’ve been held for more than three years every Monday at 5:30 p.m. at the Bruce R. Thompson Federal Building.

Chris Good

Relieving the wealthy
After the tsunami, George W. Bush was slow to respond, first by not giving his verbal support to the victims and then by pledging a stingy amount of money. Even when W. increased the amount of money, twice, and sent Colin Powell to survey the damage, the criticisms continued. With talk about the increasing deficit and national debt on one side, and the lack of concern by W. on the other, he had to do something, and that something was to protect his wealthy friends and corporations.

Instead of canceling the tax cuts for the wealthy for one year W. is asking children to work on street corners—see the TV news stories of children selling hot chocolate to raise money, breaking into their piggy banks, or holding up signs asking for donations

We, the working class of America, are doing our part to help the victims of disasters while I see W. and others like him doing all they can to protect themselves and their money.

Dewey Quong