Letters for April 6, 2006

Patriot responsibility, not patriot games

Re “Patriot games” by Delaine Eastin (SN&R This I Believe, March 30):

Delaine Eastin is hardly in a position to preach to anyone about patriotic responsibility toward our youth.

When she held a position of trust and authority over our school system, she failed to use that position to lobby Congress for meaningful relief for California’s schools from the massive influx of illegal-alien students whose educational needs constitute a significant cost in funds and in time devoted to those needs, which is often stolen from other students’ learning time.

Eastin could have used her position to demand either mitigating funds or better enforcement of both the border and the employers. Instead, she chides us for not providing sufficient funds for our schools. If she was previously unaware of the estimated 2 million to 4 million illegal aliens in our state, the recent protest demonstration in Los Angeles and other places should be instructive.

She cites the generation dubbed “the greatest generation” as an example of service and sacrifice. Does she know that the parents of that generation—many of them immigrants themselves—demanded that Congress cut the great immigration wave to a mere trickle? We have not followed that wise example for 60 years. We presently have the longest time between such restrictions and the highest in raw numbers of both legal and illegal immigrants of any time in our history.

Eastin implies that we are lacking in both generosity and foresight toward our current and future generations. The truth is that what we lack is leaders with the courage and strength of character to do what leaders in other generations have done.

Barbara Vickroy

The Bee as union buster?

Re “The Bee buy” (SN&R Editorial, March 23):

I question the “high growth” rationale that McClatchy used to support the decision to sell 12 of the Knight-Ridder newspapers that it just bought.

If you look closer at the situation, you’ll discover that those 12 papers have something else in common: They are the only union papers of the Knight-Ridder batch. That point was addressed in a New York Times piece on the plight of the San Jose Mercury News that ran on Monday [March 20]. It makes sense that McClatchy would dump the union-supported newspapers, given that the papers that it currently owns either aren’t union papers, had their unions busted by McClatchy or have unions that have been neutered. It’s something to think about.

Furthermore, while “the business of media is business—and big business, at that,” as you say, you’d think that McClatchy would want to keep a couple of high-profile and respected newspapers (such as The Philadelphia Inquirer, with all its Pulitzers, and the San Jose Mercury News), at the very least for prestige and status reasons. Also, with the Mercury News, it would have had a strong lock on Northern California. But I guess it’s too time-consuming and involved to dismantle the unions there. Prestige just isn’t worth the grief.

I can’t help thinking that, despite McClatchy’s journalistic pretensions, it is quite comfortable with its “little fish in little ponds” form of business. Then again, maybe journalism has nothing to do with it.

Jan Husky
via e-mail

Empathy only goes so far

Re “What?! Religious content in SN&R?” by Jeff vonKaenel (SN&R Essay, March 23):

Churches do many great things and can be wonderful agents of social change. I’m all for organizing resources for youth and getting kids off the couch and into the big wide world. SN&R President Jeff vonKaenel says that a church taught him about the importance of civil rights and of empathy. That’s great.

The truth is, however, that these lessons are taught by and for an audience that’s based on exclusion. Kids in churches learn to have empathy for people who look and think just like them—but it’s rare to find those lessons applied in that big wide world. More often than not, those lessons pale in comparison to the larger, unspoken, omnipresent lesson of exclusion.

Religious organizations, while many of them helped further civil-rights movements, are leading the backlash against those values, favoring instead the larger lesson of exclusion. For example, the majority of American Christians are for capital punishment, though it’s completely antithetical to their “values.”

So, while I’m all for getting kids out into that big wide world, I’d also like them to see the whole world for what it is, instead of looking only at people who look and think just like they’re taught to in church.

B. Pfau
via e-mail

Uh, did you listen to the song?

Re “…and Birkenstock bashing” (SN&R Letters, March 23):

Just a point of clarification for F. Thomas Cianci: “Born in the USA” is an anti-war song.

Peace, love and all that other jazz.

Ned Sykes

Congrats on the War Issue

Re “The War Issue” (SN&R, March 16):

As a citizen of the USA, I want to thank you for your War Issue. Outstanding. We all need to increase our awareness of what our government has involved us in. I’ve found excellent information at www.worldcantwait.net.

Laurie B. Ferns

Fruits of religion’s labor? War.

Re “Local artists against the war” by Don Button (SN&R Feature Story, March 16):

These artists used their talents to speak out against the suffering, death and misery seen in Iraq. I thought George Glazunov’s poster most poignant in showing the effects of war.

However, his quote of Matthew 7:16 (“Ye shall know them by the fruits of their labor”) is not referring to war-makers, but to religion. In the context of verses 15 through 23, Jesus first says to watch out for “false prophets” who prophesy, drive out demons and perform miracles in his name. Jesus says though they call him Lord, “I never knew you.” One reason: Religion backs war.

Mr. Glazunov’s bio relates that his parents suffered in the Nazi camps. Did religion back Hitler? According to the front page of The New York Times, April 13, 1933, Hitler’s vice chancellor, Col. Franz von Papen, and his right-hand man, Capt. Herman Goering, received communion at the hand of Pope Pius XII.

In 1938, in honor of Hitler’s birthday, Vienna’s Cardinal Theodor Innitzer ordered that all Austrian churches fly the swastika flag, ring their bells and pray for the Nazi dictator.

This item appeared in the New York Times of December 7, 1941: “The Conference of German Catholic Bishops assembled in Fulda has recommended the introduction of a special ‘war prayer’ which is to be read at the beginning and end of all divine services. The prayer implores Providence to bless German arms with victory and grant protection to the lives and health of all soldiers. The Bishops further instructed Catholic clergy to keep and remember in a special Sunday sermon at least once a month German soldiers ‘on land, on sea and in the air.’”

Diane Church

Ask the wise ones

Re “The War Issue” (SN&R, March 16):

So, you people think war is a waste, immoral and all that other stuff.

Tell me, O wise ones, how do you think we can have all our cars, good food, nice houses and good times?

Why don’t you take a look back at 1929, and the period leading up to that wonderful big war. As much as all the harm it did, that war gave us everything the American people wanted: good times.

How would you, O wise ones, keep this good American life going?

Frank A. Fragnito

Better busy Wal-Mart than boring mall

Re “Fade to bland” by Sonia K. Saini (SN&R News, March 2):

I felt the article regarding the revamping of Florin Mall and the Wal-Mart Supercenter that will be placed at that location was a little bit unfair.

I have been a South Sacramento resident most of my life, and I have watched the decline of Florin Mall over the years. The quality of the stores plummeted, and the mall was basically filled with baby clothes, tennis shoes and discount items that mostly looked like they should have been free. In the rare cases I would visit the mall, I found it to be empty—definitely different from the Florin Mall of my childhood. I won’t argue that there were some merchants selling quality items, but I believe the change will be good for most. The mall has been “dead” for years, and people have been taking their dollars to Arden Fair and Downtown Plaza. It will be nice to see some dollars staying in the “’hood.”

Malikka Rogers
via e-mail