Letters for October 30, 2003

Indian enslavement is no hidden sin

Re “Slavery: California’s hidden sin” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R Cover, October 23):

This article was interesting and well-written.

The title, however, might be more accurate if it read “Black slavery: California’s hidden sin.” Researchers of California history can attest to the fact that Indian slavery in California is well-documented. Robert Heizer, a respected anthropologist formerly with the University of California, wrote in The Destruction of California Indians that between 1850 and 1863, about 10,000 California Indians were forced to be servants, prostitutes or laborers.

Also, the article seems to suggest that the state of California discouraged slavery, citing wording in the state’s 1850 Constitution. Such a suggestion is not completely correct. On April 18, 1850, the state government approved “An Act for the Government and Protection of Indians.” While the wording of the act, and its 1860 amendments, established a fine for kidnapping Indians and forcing them into slavery, because the law allowed the use of Indians as “indentured servants,” its effect was to encourage the practice of slavery.

Referring to this law in 1861, the superintendent of Indian affairs for the District of Northern California wrote, “There is a statute in California providing for the indenturing of Indians to white people for a term of years. Hence, under cover of this law many persons are engaged in hunting Indians. … Acts of injustice and violence are now tolerated by an unconstitutional law, as I believe, of this state.”

This law was finally repealed in 1863 after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

Bill Drake
Nevada City

Start driving IRV

Re “Running off at the booth” by Michael Feliciano (SN&R Essay, October 23):

There’s been a lot of talk about instant-runoff voting (IRV) for some time now. All the legislators know about it. Maybe I’m just young and idealistic, but why don’t we just start doing it? Let’s actually start making California better—now.

Senate Constitutional Amendment 14 (Senator John Vasconcellos) would implement IRV in California. And Assembly Bill 1039 (Assemblywoman Loni Hancock) would let many cities start using it. California already started replacing its voting equipment. Let’s take advantage of that.

From the UC Davis and UC San Diego to UC Berkeley and Stanford, students have already picked up on IRV. San Francisco has picked up on IRV. What are our legislators waiting for? Let’s see some initiative! Let’s see IRV move forward!

Chris Jerdonek

Swinging a dangerous ax

Re “Illegally legal” (SN&R Guest Comment, October 23):

David Yow’s guest comment revealed his menacing ignorance toward immigration realities as well as a penchant for bizarre reasoning.

Mr. Yow is apparently unaware of the fact that many “legal immigrants,” who he believes should be able to get driver’s licenses, initially entered the United States illegally. For example, in the broad immigration amnesty of 1986, many law-abiding and hard-working undocumented immigrants were given the opportunity to receive legal status. When Mr. Yow refers to legal immigrants, he must admit that he includes those who benefited under this amnesty.

Mr. Yow’s unsophisticated position is useless in light of the complexities of immigration law. For example, a relatively recent law permits undocumented immigrants to self-petition for legal status if they are married to a U.S. citizen. It isn’t clear in Yow’s universe when exactly an undocumented immigrant who self-petitions should be able to get a driver’s license during this long, difficult legal process. When his or her application is accepted? When he or she receives an employment-authorization card? When he or she finally gets legal permanent residency? And what about those immigrants with temporary protected status? Or those who have acquired political asylum but aren’t permanent residents yet?

That Mr. Yow doesn’t feel compelled to state with any specificity at what stage an immigrant should be able to acquire a driver’s license is a sobering reminder that the swinging of the political ax is usually mendacious and always dangerous.

David Alan Richter

You should stay tuned to SN&R …

Re “Axis of Arnold” by Bill Forman (SN&R News, October 16):

Thank you for publicizing the meeting between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kenneth Lay, and the discrepancies in Schwarzenegger’s statements about said meeting. Michael Milken is a community leader?

I hope that we can continue to count on you to monitor the situation, to see if Arnold has agreed to sabotage the $9 billion lawsuit, which is our $9 billion. My understanding is that he could do this simply by not backing up the lawsuit actively.

Since the mainstream media hasn’t touched this as far as I know, it seems like a good idea for your readers to do the following: (1) “Stay tuned” to SN&R. (2) Tell all their family, friends, neighbors and office holders what they can about the story to increase pressure on the new governor, or at least prevent him from ripping us off unawares. (3) Make an extra effort to support SN&R sponsors. It’s hard work going to those restaurants, but somebody’s got to do it.

Erik Tootell

… and keep covering Arnold, and send Stewart to the Bee

Re “Axis of Arnold” by Bill Forman (SN&R News, October 16):

Kudos to SN&R for the continuing reporting on our new groping guv. Please don’t stop!

I wish you were a daily because, somehow, this guy’s amnesia about meeting Ken Lay, a malady he apparently contracted from Bush, doesn’t warrant mainstream press. A picture is worth a thousand words, and I’m sure when the star-struck saw Ahhnuld glad-handing the crowd (bad turn of phrase, probably) amid fluttering confetti week after week on the front page every single day in our daily newspaper before the election, it was an instant get-out-the-vote coup de maître.

Connect the dots, thinking folk: The actor meets with the energy thieves in 2001, he meets with Bush in February 2003, Issa puts up the money for a recall and cries when he pulls out (another bad turn of phrase, probably), the actor announces his candidacy on TV (where else?), and every dull normal in the state emerges squinting from under their rock to vote for the first time in the interests of striking a blow for ass-kicking!

What we are going to get is what got us here in the first place: über-deregulation, but with an added fillip of Wilson-style über-privatization. Wow. Now that makes sense in this economy.

Well, the only thing I can see to improve your paper, other than to publish it more often, would be to ship Jill Stewart to the Bee to co-parent a column with Dan Weintraub.

S.M. Di Paola

Oh wait, keep Stewart

Re “Nonsense and media” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol Punishment, September 18):

What a pleasure it is to have Jill Stewart writing for your paper. I don’t know what surprises me more; Ms. Stewart’s courage to take a reasoned, logical stand on issues in this “progressive” town or that SN&R would allow her to.

Her article about Assembly Bill 1245 was right on the mark, and it is not surprising that Assemblyman [John] Laird wouldn’t want the voters involved in his idea of democracy.

After years of predictably one-sided articles, I look forward to reading more of Jill Stewart’s work.

Bruce Booher
via e-mail

Gimme s’more samosas!

Re “From the mountains of Nepal” by Becca Costello (SN&R Dish, October 2):

Thank you for reviewing the vegan options at Kathmandu Kitchen. As a vegetarian who prefers her Indian food vegan-style, I am thrilled when vegetarian and vegan dishes are reviewed in print.

I went and checked the place out and was very pleased with my meal. The samosas were great!

Niki Ortiz
via e-mail


Re “Healing Music” (SN&R Concerts, October 23):

SN&R received incorrect contact information for the Holly Near and Cris Williamson concert to benefit Healing Journeys that was held at the Crest Theater on Friday, October 24. Readers may call (916) 391-0549 for information about Healing Journeys.