Letters for November 22, 2001

Sacramento News & Anthrax

Re “Real Terror and Good Germans” by William Yerkes (SN&R Guest Comment, November 15):

It’s not opening my mail that I find daunting. It is opening up the pages of SN&R.

After exposing myself to your Guest Comment, I had an overwhelming urge to seek out a good dosage of ideological Cipro. Why am I not surprised that the SN&R would put William Yerkes, President of the Hate America First club, on its pages? It is not terrorism that disturbs him or causes alarm; it is still the presidential election of last November. I bet Yerkes wishes bin Laden had been on the ballot.

This stuff makes me sick. I hope you are aware of what you’ve done by publishing this garbage. You’ve given a voice to someone who winks at terrorism and abhors the heavy hand that is eager to crush it. I just thought I’d warn you about what I found. This form of ideological anthrax is dangerous and it can spread very rapidly. I’d recommend that you stop spreading it around this town.

Bruce L. Thiessen

Truth seeker

Re “Our Man in Afghanistan” by Tom Walsh (SN&R Cover, November 8):

I read last week’s article and wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed it.

I don’t feel much of a connection to the U.S. nowadays. I’m one of the few that doesn’t feel much like waving a flag. I’m not proud at all of us. Your article was so telling of how fickle the U.S. is. As Barbara Kingsolver puts it: “We’re a nation of amnesiacs.” The media always paints such a simplistic picture of it all and the public falls for it every time.

Perhaps if they had a split screen TV contrasting our lives and theirs. Americans: wearing designer red, white and blue sweaters, an overly fed family piling into their gas-guzzling SUV with the flag waving from their antenna on their way to the mall to buy Christmas ornaments the day after Halloween. Contrasted by the Afghanis: a family who has zilch and is getting the hell bombed out of them in the name of God. Or perhaps if we had footage of bin Laden being trained by our CIA to oust the Russians from “our” oil territory back in the mid ’80s. But it would have to be sensationalized and repeated over and over of course for the knowledge to sink in.

I travel a lot out of the country and whenever I come back I let people know that we are not a very popular country and that we are the terrorists to many, but it usually falls on deaf ears out of my circle of close friends.

Keep on writing those true articles about people and their circumstances to give them honor, whether they have already died or are still alive, because there are people out there who want to read them.

All I can say is that Jim Lindelof’s family has a lot to be proud of. He sought the truth.

Jamie Walker
via e-mail

Our man in Compton?

Re “Our Man in Afghanistan” by Tom Walsh (SN&R Cover, November 8):

This week’s edition of SN&R was right on time! Tom Walsh’s article about Afghanistan and Californian Jim Lindelof was so good. This was very important and very responsible journalism.

The war against Afghanistan is supposedly not a war against the Afghanistan people. However, the “people” are the ones that are suffering. “America” (i.e. George W. Bush) is in search of one man, who is assumed to be in Afghanistan. What if bin Laden is not in Afghanistan? Is it possible that bin Laden could now be “hiding out” in Brooklyn or South Bronx or Compton, California or anywhere!

Sudalia Muhammad
via fax

Taliband on the run

Re “Vietnam Redux” (SN&R Ed Note, November 8):

In the recent issue there was an interesting look at journalists that snuck into Afghanistan to get pictures and to offer aid to mujahideen. What concerns me however, is the editorial comment in the front.

I have never recalled President Bush stating that the Taliban would fall shortly after bombing Afghanistan. There was no mention of a source there and quite to the contrary, President Bush and virtually every government official involved has said repeatedly that this will take time. Now I sit here writing this as cities have been invaded by the Northern Alliance fighters.

There were also comparisons of this war to the conflict in Vietnam in that editorial. There is no draft. African-Americans are not being uprooted from their jobs to go for this cause. The majority of Americans overwhelmingly support these attacks, according to polls from the big three networks as well as CNN and Time magazine. Afghanistan is not in the jungle. Our weapons are no longer relics from Korea and World War II. We also have seven major military forces from around the world contributing to the cause of toppling the Taliban.

Maybe bombing Afghanistan in your eyes does not accomplish much, but it sure as hell beats letting them harbor Osama bin Laden with no repercussions.

My uncle on the East Coast is an accountant and was in the World Trade Center. What did he ever do to these people? He is a devout church and family man, so being an “infidel” does not wash here. The facts remain that the Taliban lies are more frequent than truths. Even your cover story article expressed how untrustworthy many soldiers are in that region.

The Taliban would have never been attacked had they simply turned bin Laden over with any sort of promptness. Ultimately they got attacked because they harbor terrorists.

Trevor Adams
via e-mail

Supersize those Saudis

Re “The House of Saud” (SN&R Editorial, November 8)

Much of what you wrote in your editorial on the Saudis is true, yet it nonetheless left a distorted image. As one who lived in Saudi Arabia for 17 years (married to a Saudi), I must say that you left some things out.

You made it sound as if the Saudis are a pro-terrorist nation. They are not. They are, in general, extremely nice people—just like Americans are, in general, extremely nice people. In the big cities, Jeddah in particular, Saudis appreciate and enjoy many imported Western elements. Jeddah, where I lived, had a Wendy’s, Chilis, Safeway and Albertson-look-alike supermarkets, McDonald’s, Popeye’s, Printemps (a French department store), and numerous other Western chains. In Jeddah, Saudis were generally friendly, polite and hospitable to Westerners they came into contact with.

They have their problems, and you pointed out what these are. Power is basically divided between the enormous Bedouin ruling family, the House of Saud (which loves travel in the West and Western goods), and rather ignorant—thus narrow minded—desert tribes that are nonetheless powerful. The Saudis must have their support to continue ruling, so they play both ropes (the Western-looking, and the tribal fundamentalists), and have tangled up their society by so doing.

It is very sad and worrisome. However, people reading your editorial will think that Saudis like terrorism. The people I met in Jeddah, and from Riyadh and Mecca, were kind, peaceful and humanitarian. They are very compassionate towards children. I have met many dynamic Saudi women who run their own businesses (Jeddah is rumored to have more potent female investors than male). I am not saying that all is as it should be—by no means. Women do not have the rights Islam gives them, and many men do take serious and unfair advantage of that fact. But many others do not. I am simply speaking up for all the kind and wonderful Saudi people who do not know what you wrote, and would be troubled to think that they are being depicted as lovers of terrorism.

Julia Simpson
via e-mail