Letters for November 1, 2001

Ax the anthrax

Re “Spores Galore” (SN&R Capital Bites, October 18):

Anthrax, anthrax, anthrax. Please! When will this silliness stop?

The greatest threat to the health, safety and well-being of the average American isn’t some malcontent with a postage stamp and some bacteria.

As always, Americans are far more menaced by corporate malfeasance than by any terrorist, airborne or postal. Unscrupulous employers who ignore worker safety regulations, food processors who skirt health standards, manufacturers who produce dangerous and flawed products, companies who illegally dump toxic wastes, property owners who violate fire and building codes—these miscreants, among others, kill and maim tens of thousands of people in the U.S. every year.

Americans’ health and well-being is further compromised by exploding health-care costs, shrinking personal incomes, burgeoning consumer debt, limited educational opportunities, increasing air and water pollution, increasing traffic due to scant public transit options, and many other social maladies.

George W. Bush, who without the advantage of being born in a prominent and privileged family would be challenged holding down a job as assistant manager of the Laredo Radio Shack, doesn’t have any solutions for the real threats to our health, safety and well-being. Distracting our attention with bombing campaigns and bacteria scares serves Bush, letting him skip off to play leader of the “Free World” without confronting the growing problems challenging Americans.

Let’s not play into his hands by furthering this anthrax frenzy.

Paul Dorn

You left out the other wars

Re “Left Out” (SN&R Editorial, October 18):

Your editorial, “Left Out,” contends that leftists and progressives are “missing the point on this terrorism thing.” However, I believe that it is you who are missing the main point of what the left is trying to tell you: the September 11 attack is a direct consequence of U.S. foreign policy. Rather than seeing this war as part of a continuum, you believe that this war is justified, is somehow different because innocent victims were attacked within the boundaries of the U.S. “You’re acting as if this were another Panama, Grenada or Kuwait and it’s not,” you say. However, as Mario Galvan, board member of Sacramento-Yolo Peace Action so succinctly stated, “this war has been going on for a long time and did not start with September 11. It’s just that this time the victims of U.S. foreign policy struck back.”

This September 11 attack is the result of a multitude of U.S. interventions since World War II, with the resulting deaths of millions of people in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Chile, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Grenada, Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and other countries. The Taliban itself is largely a creation of U.S. foreign policy, since it was the Reagan administration that armed these extreme fundamentalists under the guise of “fighting communism” as it praised them as “freedom fighters.” Now, under the banner of fighting for “justice” for the victims of the September 11 attack, more innocent victims are being killed in Afghanistan by the Bush administration. Just 15 days of intense bombing have left several hundred civilians dead, and many others wounded—people who had as little to do with 9-11 as the innocent victims in the Trade Towers. Electricity and telephone systems were bombed out days ago, as was a Red Cross food depot and a refugee convoy. The bombing has also stopped international aid efforts and 7 million people in the drought-ravaged country risk starvation in the next few weeks when the harsh winter comes in if there’s not major food aid trucked in—not the meager 37,000 packets the U.S. is dropping each day.

The bombing, rather than stopping terrorism, is playing right into the hands of the terrorists by increasing the rage against the U.S.’s brutal use of its power. Peace activists advocate that the U.S. use a non-military response that employs established international legal and diplomatic channels to hold accountable those responsible for the horrific September 11 attacks, rather than perpetuating the cycle of violence by killing more innocent people.

Dan Bacher

Left in the lurch

Re “Left Out” (SN&R Editorial, October 18):

Your editorial asking the anti-war leftists among us to wake up about terrorism couldn’t have been more timely and necessary. The left is like a big, slow-thinking dinosaur. The rats are chewing off its tail, but the message has not reached its brain yet. They have got to stop agonizing over what to do and get busy exterminating the rats.

Some people just do not want to accept that we are at war because they do not see uniformed troops and tanks rolling across America. They have not figured it out. In the mean time the anti-war left will marginalize the entire left and the environmental rapists will run rampant.

Sure, we need to rethink some of our foreign policies, perhaps change some 180 degrees. But it is like remodeling a house. Let’s not talk about remodeling while the house is on fire. First, let’s put out the fire and then we can talk about the remodel.

We can and we must preserve and protect the heavenly beauty of America while we bomb the Taliban to hell.

Thom Pultz
via e-mail

Left with thanks

Re “Left Out” (SN&R Editorial, October 18):

Your open letter to liberals, leftists and progressives came just at the right time. Like many others of the left, I have been struggling with the fact that I haven’t felt very peaceful lately—struggling with “what is” and “what should be.” Your editorial made me feel less alone and opened a door for me to talk with others. It’s difficult to find yourself displaced from where you usually stand, unable for the first time to place yourself squarely on one side.

Indeed, bio and other forms of terrorism that kill, harm or threaten people in towers, post offices, newspapers, media networks, Congress or anywhere else must involve some degree of military action and domestic security measures. However, we of the left can and should remain vigilant and vocal about protecting civil liberties/rights and workers’ rights, examining and addressing root causes of terrorism (wrongful and failed foreign policies, etc.), and keeping the “war on terrorism” confined to terrorists—to name a few. And we must insist the term “terrorist” be defined and include “homegrown” terrorists who have long gone unpunished for acts of domestic terrorism—against doctors and clinic staff, women, lesbians and gays, people of color, non-“Christians,” and all others labeled “anti-American” by the likes of hatemongers who dominate our airwaves and the House of Representatives.

So, many of us to whom your editorial was addressed aren’t “missing the boat on this terrorism thing.” It’s just that the boat is in un-chartered waters, heading into a foggy unknown, and it’s damn hard to see it very clearly. If we have to declare mutiny at sea, let’s hope there’s plenty of life jackets.

Dorothy L. Wake

CIA agent bin Laden

Re “Left Out” (SN&R Editorial, October 18):

9.11 was an extremely sophisticated operation. More than one observer has mentioned its almost military efficiency—as if it had the backing of a well-oiled intelligence machine behind it. My question: was a well-oiled intelligence machine behind it? Are we seeing a massive intelligence operation, with considerable resources behind it? Are we really to believe that one man in a turban on the other side of the planet is the major driving force behind this? Or might the source of this very sophisticated conspiracy lie much closer to home, right in the United States itself?

As I recall, bin Laden got his start as an indirect CIA-asset, as a Mujahedin warrior fighting against the Soviet Army during their abortive 10-year invasion of Afghanistan. Question: is bin Laden still a CIA-asset today? Does the CIA use him and his followers as a mercenary force on “cut-out” operations where they need “plausible deniability”? Like, say, for a massive, staged-for-TV terrorist operation on American soil? Don’t lash out at me for posing the question. Think.

I was surprised at the lack of historical awareness, analysis and imagination in your editorial. To believe that only massive force can end terrorism is a terrible dead end—literally. It’s probably just the response the terrorists wished. It will have violent effects that will harm us all. I hope readers will educate themselves in some depth about the context of the September 11 attacks, because knowing some of the causes may give a clearer idea of the effects of the U.S. bombing. If you are American, call your United States senators and complain loud, long and hard about the proposed anti-terrorist legislation. It will gut the Constitution and slash civil liberties in the United States. It is a positively horrendous law in concept and practice and should never see the light of day. Caveat emptor.

George Holden


In discussing a protest against war and the visit of Henry Kissinger, radio host Mark Williams didn’t explicitly call for his listeners to confront the protesters (“Nuke your Radio,” Capital Bites, September 27) and (“What Next?” Cover, September 27), although SN&R believes such a call was implicit in his comments. Explicit calls for confrontation did come from another local radio host, Spencer Hughes, or so he claimed by e-mail.