Letters for April 24, 2003

Quit screaming racism

Re “The night they pulled me over” by Stephen James (SN&R Cover, April 10):

I enjoyed your biased article. I find it a bit ironic that SN&R can know exactly what went on that night without being there or having the other side of the story.

[Sgt. Greg] Johnson may have overstepped the bounds of his authority, but I also believe that the officers may have been antagonized and pushed to the point where forceful actions had to be taken. Upon being pulled over by an officer of the law, it generally is a good idea not to screw around and start calling your black, feminist, militant buddies to come and start a melee.

I also read about the poor females’ night in the drunk tank. Dear Lord, they had it easy compared with many, and maybe a night in the slammer will help them to realize that they never want to go back there again.

Take a little responsibility for your actions, ladies, and quit screaming racism whenever you feel personally wronged.

Steven M. Thomas

Embedded marketers

Re “Watching the war” by Deanna Broxton (SN&R News, April 10):

[John] Berthelsen’s reservations about the effectiveness of today’s embedded journalists seem quite understated.

Prior to the war, polls showed that three of every five Americans opposed a pre-emptive strike on Iraq without U.N. approval. Recent polls show that three of every four Americans now support this pre-emptive war. This is one astonishing, indeed “shocking and awe-inspiring” (to use Pentagon jargon), turnaround.

But we shouldn’t be surprised at this shift in sentiment about the president’s war product. Hardly a dime of taxpayers’ money has been spared to ensure the product’s overwhelming quality—our military may be the most effective in history—and the product’s efficient delivery. Its packaging is superb: taxpayers (poll, not war, participants) sit comfortably in their living rooms, brought virtually to the front lines of a war that is portrayed with less violence than most prime-time television and virtually all video games—it’s mesmerizing adults without scaring the wits out of their children.

The decision to “embed” journalists within military units was a stroke of genius. CNN, Fox and assorted media have helped market and sell the war in a way the president never could. What a marketing coup! One can’t help but wonder what the next, new and improved, version of this product will be.

Chuck McIntyre

Talk radio is not dialogue

Re “Perfectly clear” (SN&R Guest Comment, April 10):

Though not surprising, it’s still discouraging to hear a pro-war voice such as Mark Williams broadly dismiss protesters as thugs. There are thugs in many segments of society. Some, unfortunately, get into demonstrations. Some also do hateful things like spit on a group of Women in Black standing in silent protest.

But the peace march and rally I attended in Sacramento a few weeks ago was orderly and respectful. The people we encountered on the way who disagreed with us were also respectful. That was an example of America at its best.

The bigoted invective that Mr. Williams uses serves a purpose for his crowd; they don’t have to face any difficult questions or be confused by any unsettling facts. It’s so much easier when [one believes] he’s the true patriot and we protesters are into “blaming … America for all that is evil in the world.”

It is a primary act of courage to scrutinize your own government’s policies. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison considered it a good idea. They thought it would prevent contrary opinions from escalating into violence, and it has worked fairly well, except for the period from 1861-1865. Mr. Williams would dismiss and invalidate this tradition.

It is a shame that so many of our citizens are too insecure to allow a little light to shine on the differences of opinion and belief that we might have. It keeps us from having any useful dialogue.

Mike Ferrick

Taxpayer development

Re “Arrested development” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Cover, April 3):

What’s wrong with removing impediments to the city’s local economic agenda? Without the increased tax revenues from improved properties, there’s less public money to fund services for the needy—including their attorneys, who would be unemployed without tax subsidy.

Not only are the homeless affected by economic development, but also the rights of owners of vacant, trashy, weedy lots and deteriorating or dangerous vacant buildings; graffiti vandals; and other blight-makers are being stepped on, too. How unjust!

When I was unemployed, I went to the providers of homeless services because I heard they sent people on jobs. They only referred me to the Yellow Pages and want ads. With $2 million in taxes spent on the homeless in 1989, which has increased to more than $22 million in taxes this year, where’s all that money gone? What will the homeless and their tax-funded attorneys want next? Homeless unions, with government-paid dues cards, meetings and “I am a Homeless Union Member” T-shirts?

Rights? What right do the homeless and their tax-supported attorneys have to force taxpayers, struggling to feed their families, to pay for their wages and homeless services? Who will defend them from jail or fines when they refuse to pay?

Alexander Vasquez

Stewart’s educational fascism

Re “Politically incorrect” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol Punishment, April 3):

This political essay cannot pass muster as an analysis of what is in the best interests of Latino or any other children. The English-only crusade of those who march with Ms. Stewart represent the worst in American tradition: racism, xenophobia and ethnocentricity.

From a strategic global perspective, these zealots put the nation at risk because they propose a single culture and a single language, when, in fact, we live in a multicultural world, which demands respect for and knowledge of all ethno-linguistic traditions. How is America going to lead without multiculturalism? Shall we write “English Only” on our bullets and bombs?

Stewart provides no statistical evidence that Proposition 227’s immersion-English programs have raised the educational-achievement levels of Latino youth. If we grant that their test scores have risen, this does not mean that there is any direct relationship between intense English instruction and improved test scores.

Let’s assume that Spanish-speaking students came to school already reading in Spanish at ages 4 and 5 (which is highly probable, given the phonic continuity between the spoken and written word in Spanish). This would give them a two-year head start in reading, which, once learned, is a transferable skill (you only learn to read once). Can Ms. Stewart and others prove, beyond all reasonable doubt, that this was not the case in the sample of children they cite?

Stewart and others cite the failure of bilingual education. Bilingual education did not fail: Powerful political forces, represented by people with Stewart’s ideology, sought to crush it.

The best statistical proof of the success of bilingual-multicultural education is found in the very Latino political leadership that Stewart wishes to bully into submission. Latinos who have succeeded in America overwhelmingly have been successful because of their strong, positive self-images, related to their educational achievement and the rich, multicultural and multilingual traditions that they have been proud to experience.

Any educator who proposes monolingual and monocultural education for our children is not an educator but a political demagogue. Our children are capable of learning many languages and cultures simultaneously—and Europe is the proof of this! Shame on Ms. Stewart and her fascist supporters.

David Benavides