Letters for December 27, 2001

Whose war is it?

Re “Searching for Osama” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R Cover, December 20):

Living While Arab, Driving While Black, where will it end? September 11, 2001, only helped to bring to light the injustices perpetrated on Americans and non-Americans alike in the name of “National Security,” or some other excuse the establishment can find. Holding and detaining people suspected of criminal or terrorist activity, without due process, is becoming the norm. Can you say KGB? The KGB can’t hold a candle to the FBI, CIA and NSA.

We live in the richest, most powerful nation on the planet but we are cited more often by other countries for human rights violations perpetrated on our own citizenry than any other country in the world.

You have slowly given away, or allowed your constitutional rights to diminish Mr. and Mrs. America. We give power and authority to those who abuse that power. What happened on September 11 was a deplorable and despicable act to say the least. But whipping you (America) into a patriotic and paranoid frenzy by the political establishment does not serve justice. Displaying and waving the flag does not a patriot make.

And before you start pointing your finger and saying that I must be un-American, let me just say this: I served my country—honorably during time of war (Vietnam). But there are things that my country does in the name of “justice” that sends chills down my spine. Just like Vietnam, Desert Storm and Afghanistan there was no formal, real declaration of war. We’re protecting our interests all right—our economic interests. We’re still asking ourselves, or should be asking ourselves, why do people in other parts of the world hate us so much? It’s time to look in the proverbial mirror.

Finally, Mr. Husnein, I know what you and your family experienced was extremely painful. You were violated. You have every right to be upset. But let’s not put ideas in the FBI’s head by asking them if they have investigated Jews.

Dwain Barefield
via e-mail

Presentation skills 101

Re “Uncivil Defense” (SN&R Capital Bites, December 20):

I would like to publicly thank President Gerth for his actions taken during Bee publisher Janis Heaphy’s speech.

I also want to make clear that disapproval of the content of her “commencement speech” was not limited to the audience, but was shared and vocalized by many of the graduates.

Acting as the consummate teacher, President Gerth cut short a speech for the same reason a speech would be cut short in a presentation class. It was inflammatory, off topic, and not audience appropriate.

As I sat listening to a speech telling me what to think and how to act, I reflected about what I had been taught in college: the necessity to think critically and independently.

Up on her “soap-box,” Ms. Heaphy went too far by espousing partisan political views and casting moral judgments; definitely not commencement ceremony material. Her speech was as topic appropriate to a CSUS graduation as would have been the topics of gay rights or abortion. Save it for political fund-raisers or demonstrations at the Capitol!

Thank you once again, President Gerth, for standing up for our right to think critically and independently by terminating the situation-inappropriate rhetoric.

The president stated that he will remember this graduation for a long time. I hope all who were present will remember this final lesson of the semester in Presentation Skills 101.

Joseph L. Fairchild
via e-mail

SN&R gets an F

Re “Raising the Dead” by Shera Oliveria (SN&R News, December 13)

Kudos to the News & Review for a story on the often-overlooked issue of teaching Latin. However, while the article makes many good points, there is a bit of misinformation here that has the similar implications of lost knowledge that the article’s author seems to decry.

Criminal Defense Attorney Georgeanne McKee is quoted as saying, “Latin is the basis of all English.” This is not true, though with the profusion of Latin words dotting our daily dialogue, it is easy to see why this common misperception occurs.

English is a Germanic (specifically West Germanic) and not Romance or Latin-derived language. Its closest relatives are modern German, Dutch and the Scandinavian languages. Also, to clear up another common misperception, English is not descended from modern German, rather Germanic, which is the parent language of both. English received most of its Latinate vocabulary as a result of both Norman French occupation of England and the Renaissance-era revival of the classical Latin and Greek vocabularies. However, the Anglo-Saxon (two Germanic tribes) masses never completely surrendered to a Latin-derived tongue and English has maintained its Germanic-base and grammar. This is unfortunate because even very educated folk fail to see the fallacy of imposing a Latin-modeled grammar system on a Germanic language.

I’m not denying the importance of Latin on our legal vocabulary and the enrichment of learning an important language that would provide ample basis for learning modern Spanish, Italian, French, Romanian, and yes, because of vocabulary alone, English. Perhaps, a better study of language histories and their relative grammars might also be a good course to add.

James May

Support environmentalists

Re “Chopping Down Environmentalists” (SN&R Capital Bites, December 13):

The fact that the Sierra Club must spend much time and energy raising money is a sad fact of life. But big industry is unloading big cash into their own efforts versus environmentalists. One recent example is the oil companies’ assault against electric vehicles.

Grassroots campaigning often is not enough when facing month-long radio or full-page newspaper ad campaigns. Maybe environmentalists have gone overboard on occasion but they have little option when it comes to fundraising. Money talks. A bit too loudly perhaps.

Paul Kekai Manansala

Down with fundamentalists

Re “Of God and Country” (SN&R Editorial, December 6):

In case it has eluded the editorial staff of the News & Review, bin Laden and his followers first introduced the concept that this is a “religious war.” Jihad, Holy War, remember? We are at war for our very existence. The radical Muslim fundamentalist groups that are threatening us want nothing less than the complete destruction of our way of life. They will not be satisfied until the United States is no longer the beacon of freedom.

Benjamin Netanyahu, former prime minister of Israel, published a book in 1995 titled Fighting Terrorism. The book is basically a plea to America to wake up and smell the coffee. The activities in the Middle East are not simply designed to get rid of Israel, “the little Satan,” but to strike a blow at the U.S., “the great Satan.” What he cautioned has become our reality.

The victims in New York and Washington are religious martyrs. You don’t have to attend church every Sunday to know that. You claim our country is beyond good and evil. For our sake, I hope not. As far as right and wrong, the last time I checked, good was right and evil was wrong. It’s a different world now, and I personally have no patience left for liberal constitutional fundamentalists who would continue to place us in danger.

Sarah Thompson Lee
Elk Grove