Letters for February 26, 2004

Goethe’s gifts obscured his beliefs

Re “Darkness on the edge of campus” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R News, February 19):

Thank you for your well-written and well-researched story about C.M. Goethe. As one who participated somewhat in the campus concerns about Goethe in the 1960s, it is good that professor [Tony] Platt is again raising the issue. As you make clear, Goethe’s beneficence to California State University, Sacramento, has been considerable. As a young faculty member, I received an “anonymous” Christmas gift of $10, which I learned came from an annual Goethe offering. (I don’t mean to sound ironic when I relate this.)

The student-faculty protest against naming the new science building for Goethe was successful. The campus was not very diversified in the early 1960s, so the protest was not a “racial” issue, but we were still close enough to the Hitler era that Goethe’s espousal of the superiority of Western culture and his support of eugenics, if not quite “master race” in nature, were very regrettable. Until about 1964, there was little faculty or student involvement in the policymaking and administration of the campus. The campus president and his appointees ran things largely as they liked. Thus, any soul-searching about Goethe’s gifts vs. his philosophy was not made public. The campus needed money and real estate, and that was that.

So far as I know, Goethe never sought to influence any campus policy, but that might be a point to investigate. Regrettably, most of the people involved are now dead. One thing that you might do to help is to explain to readers that the proper pronunciation of Goethe’s name is “Gertuh,” not the local popular corruption, which is “Gaytee.” Old C.M. probably rolls in his grave about that.

Gerald R. McDaniel
emeritus professor of government

Voters, not media, determine election

Re “Republican family feud” by Jeff Kearns (SN&R Cover, February 12):

I read the story of the “Republican family feud” in your newspaper last week with great interest. Your observations about the primary contest were entertaining, as well as accurate, but the analysis of the general election to come was not based in reality or fact.

Republicans have spent a great deal of time this primary season bickering and arguing, and this type of behavior is emblematic of why I decided to run for Congress. We have had enough feuding, and I believe it is time for a congressman who can reach across the aisle and across our diverse district to begin solving the problems we face here at home, as well as nationally.

Your newspaper’s presumption that the campaign for Congress in the 3rd District is effectively over after the primary is disturbing. It is disturbing because the majority of the people in the district are not Republicans and will not have had the opportunity to choose their representative on March 2. In fact, this district has the smallest Republican registration of any seat in California currently held by a Republican, not to mention the 17 percent of district voters that declined to state a party preference.

This is a moderate district, illustrated clearly by the fact that Doug Ose, a pro-choice, moderate Republican, was elected here three times. Voters in the 3rd District will have the opportunity to choose a fiscally conservative Democrat in November and reject the negative campaigns and partisan bickering that have been the preferred method of campaigning for some Republicans over the past few months.

People in this district are crying out for honest debate on the issues and leadership that brings people together to solve problems, not blind partisanship that creates more problems.

The people of the 3rd District will have a choice this fall, because whatever the media may say, I am hearing from the people I talk to while walking precincts, at business functions and in town-hall meetings that they are ready for a change. People are telling me that they are more interested in the candidate than party affiliation. We are putting together a professional campaign that is gaining strength every day. My campaign will take our message to the voters in all corners of the district.

I am running for Congress to reduce the staggering deficit, to provide tax relief for the middle class, to ensure that health care is more affordable and accessible to all Americans and to increase our investments in education.

This election is for the voters to decide, not the media. If voters want solutions and common sense more than division and partisanship, then I ask them to join our effort to win this election in November.

Gabe Castillo
Democratic nominee for Congress

Kearns responds: According to the California secretary of state, Republicans have a 44.71 percent to 36.32 percent registration advantage over Democrats in the 3rd District. Analyses by independent sources, including the Rothenberg Political Report and the California Target Book, both classify the 3rd District as a safe Republican seat.

No mas ethnic food and dances

Re “If Sacramento were more ____, it would be a better place” (SN&R Streetalk, February 12):

Juniper Manifest had it right [in her response to the Streetalk question] when she made the astounding suggestion that new immigrants should be encouraged to become Americans!

Our present political and educational gurus do everything they can to segregate all newcomers into isolated groups. Diverse-ness is above Godliness. Wear native clothes, join native groups, get welfare benefits and avoid Americans so you can keep your own distinctive un-American character.

One simple question: Is this what made America the great nation it is? Our traditional immigrant groups, before the flood started about 1970, came to become Americans, not to set up native clans apart from the mainstream. Sure, I like ethnic restaurants and native dances on occasion. But the successful new arrivals are not the ones who keep apart; they’re the ones who learn how to join into American life with all its opportunities and enjoyments.

How much space do the Irish or Scottish or German or Italian or other long-term immigrants ever get in the media compared to the latest arrivals, who get pages of pictures just because they have huge numbers and lots of ethnic festivals?

Isn’t it time that we started talking about the melting pot again, instead of the myriad separate molds encouraged by media, schools and immigration lawyers? We’d all be better off for it, old Americans and immigrants alike.

Allen Jamieson

Thanks for the poetry memories

Re “Phallocrypt” by Tim Kahl (SN&R Poet’s corner, February 5):

Thank you for providing the Poet’s corner as a regular feature in your publication. I am so impressed by the poems I have read so far.

As a very young child, my mother regularly read poetry to my brothers and me and encouraged us to write.

Thank you so much for rekindling the joy of poetry in me, once again.

Maria Kishkovsky

Lots of local rock en español

Re “Searching for el rock” by Christian Kiefer (SN&R Arts & Culture, February 5):

I have been observing the rock-en-español scene since 1993 and have been impressed by the artistry demonstrated worldwide.

In Sacramento, local Spanish-speaking radio and television stations have been unable to promote or understand the depths of this movement. It is the independent work of promoters like Miguel Castillo who have brought many rare groups, such as Jaguares, Tijuana No, Maldita Vecindad, and Ekhymosis, to Sacramento without community support.

This movement has always had its power rooted in both Spanish lyrics and music rich in ethnic influences. The real artistry of so many famous groups, such as Mexico’s Jaguares, is the artful blending of indigenous ethnic influences and rock into a heady stew.

Diciembre Gris was portrayed as drawing its inspiration more from the Cure than the Spanish-language music movement. Actually, the Cure is the granddaddy of this movement. Their early sound and style greatly influenced two pioneers: Argentina’s Soda Stereo and Mexico’s Caifanes. Their first cover art copied Robert Smith’s look down to his haircut. Their lush sounds were darkly influenced by the Cure.

For 1970s British rock changed the landscape of Latin rocnrol into the artistic sound now known as rock en español. Many styles coexist, from punk to rap to electronica, and much more. All have one common thread: Spanish lyrics mixed with an original blend of ethnic and modern rock idioms.

Too bad this burst of originality has never been successfully marketed in America. But the best of musical movements are a secret to most and a treasure to the few who are lucky enough to discover the beat of a new sound.

Although one may think that there is no scene in Sacramento by going out just once or twice, there has been great success in the last few months: Volumen Cero, Cambio De Piel and Orixa packed La Terraza with 250 people. Enanitos Verdes had 800 with only one week’s advertisement at the Tropicana. Volumen Cero had 700, Victimas Del Doctor Cerebro had 800, and Cambio de Piel alone pulled in 500 at the Classic Juke Box. You can’t have that type of success without a scene.

David Allen Hulse