Letters for October 4, 2001
Words of wisdom
Re “Healing Words” by Becca Costello (SN&R 15 Minutes, September 27):
Thank you for the interview with Tim McKee. I was with a group of poets at the Matrix Gallery on the Sunday after the attack. In writing and sharing our poems about the tragedy, we found the words to express the unspeakable. Tim McKee is absolutely right that poetry—and the arts in general—serve justice by refusing to lie, by unflinchingly seeing and speaking the deep and painful—or even joyful—truths. Politics tries to construct images for us to embrace. The commercial news always feels the need to entertain. Poetry shows us the muscle, the skeleton, the organs beneath that distracting skin. Interviewing Tim McKee was a good decision.
Talk of the town
Re “Best of Sacramento?” by Mike Jones (SN&R Letters, September 27):
To the recently transplanted San Franciscan: we, the long-lived, well-established denizens of Sacramento appreciate your comments about your newfound realization and surprise that Sacramento is a nice place to live. Your preconceived notions are quite common in the elitist and chauvinistic San Francisco community. We have always been friendly, the trees have been here for hundreds of years, and so have Mom and Pop.
However, we take umbrage at your suggestion that the “Reader’s Choice” selections for the Best of Sacramento are a result of a citywide epidemic of brain damage of seemingly intelligent people. We, who have lived here for a time, are perfectly aware of what is the best in Sacramento. That is how we keep it the best. Can you imagine what would happen to “the best” if everyone knew about it? We would have a more vast immigration from Baghdad by the Bay than there already is—further driving up the price of real estate to unrealistic, inflated proportions, clogging freeways and lowering the general quality of life that we Sacramentans had before the invasion of the “Friscoites.”
We appreciate the fact that the Outback, Black Angus, Blockbusters and other chains think enough of Sacramento to locate here. We try them out to support the economy, then tell the uninitiated and uneducated about them to help the economy, and return to our own favorite places (we’re not telling) and enjoy the peace and quiet; not having to put up with the bourgeois, elitist attitudes of those to the West of us. We will drink our Sierra Pale, in our Levi’s and cowboy shirts, and listen to Steve Homan, Charlie and the Nightcats, Cake and Beer Dawgs—live. You—if you are able to assimilate—will soon find the best when you are accepted into the secret society that is Sacramento. You may even go all the way, rid yourself of the gas-guzzling SUV, and live a true Midtown life of RT, Light Rail and shank’s mare.
Re “Lessons of War” (SN&R Capital Bites, September 20):
Now, perhaps more than ever, there is an even stronger case for changing our government’s position in the “War on Drugs.”
In addition to disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of non-violent citizens, wasting our tax dollars on programs that get larger and deliver fewer results each year, and helping the spread of corruption among our police officers, prohibition of marijuana and other substances creates a black market, which is an easy source of funding for terrorists.
Yes, that’s right. Terrorists profit directly from America’s “War on Drugs.” They grow crops and sell them at the black market’s outrageously inflated prices.
That’s exactly what the Taliban was doing until this year, when George Dubya handed over $40 million to the citizens of Afghanistan to coax them to stop. They destroyed the crops, but how much do you want to bet they will start right up after Bush pulls any future funding?
Ending the “War on Drugs” would remove the threat of prison from people who don’t belong there, generate tax dollars that aren’t there now, and pull money right out of the terrorists’ pockets.
Re “Evil and Good” (SN&R Editorial, September 20):
I agree that there is reason in the aftermath of such terrible events to reflect on what has caused a simmering anti-U.S. sentiment among so many world citizens.
I am struck that this national tragedy took place on September 11, the anniversary of the 1973 coup in Chile. By all accounts our government helped orchestrate the overthrow of Chilean democracy and the installation of a brutal military dictatorship that lasted nearly two decades. That action may have kept that nation friendly to U.S. companies, but the price for Chileans was the immediate destruction of lives on a scale similar to what New York has experienced, accompanied by similar physical suffering and disappearance from loved ones.
Sadly, Chile is one among several examples on all continents of our government placing our perceived interests ahead of the lives of other nations’ citizens. Now we prepare to avenge the mass slaughter of September 11, 2001, through military actions that will inevitably claim the lives of the innocent as well as the guilty. Will our retribution sow the seeds of future terrorism? Is there a way to reverse the escalating cycle of violence? Would the future death and suffering of Americans, among all world citizens, be diminished by a more fair and even-handed foreign policy? Should our policies be guided less by our desire to please the powerful, and more by an unwavering commitment to justice and the pursuit of happiness in all nations?
Even as we rally around the flag, surely we owe the victims of terrorism on American soil—and their orphaned children—answers to those questions.
Laughable & offensive
Re “Evil and Good” (SN&R Editorial, September 20):
Your editorial last week would have been laughable if it wasn’t so offensive. Trying to make American military actions akin to the attacks in New York and on the Pentagon is outrageous.
Do not insult me by making me out to be naive, self-righteous and bloodthirsty because I want justice done. Reasonable Americans do not want our military to slaughter Muslims and recklessly destroy the rest of the world, as your editorial suggests will happen. We want to defend and protect freedom, democracy and our allies—even the unpopular ones. The impending actions our military will now take will not resemble in any way, shape or form the evil of the September 11 attacks.
If the editors at SN&R want to empathize with terrorists because U.S. foreign policy is in direct conflict with the interests of Saddam Hussein, the PLO, Osama bin Laden and other terrorists, so be it. If you don’t like the way America fights against genocide and the spread of communism, that’s fine too. But don’t tell me that the United States even compares with those terrorists responsible when it comes to unleashing evil, because it’s not even close. Terrorists win every time.
The men, women, and children killed in the World Trade Center were not collateral damage—they were targets. They chose to bomb two buildings where 50,000 civilians worked. They chose to kill thousands, wound thousands and forever change the lives of thousands more who lost family and friends. Your editorial takes a quantum leap suggesting that past U.S. military involvements are just as evil as what these terrorists did. Unlike terrorists, the U.S. tries to minimize civilian casualties. Sometimes these deaths are unavoidable, as they were when Japan was bombed. Yes, those bombs killed countless Japanese civilians, but they also ended a war, and saved thousands of American’s lives that would have been killed during a mainland attack. How many lives did the attack on the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon save?
America is not evil. The principles of our government are not evil. The way we defend and protect democracy and freedom is not evil. President Bush may have given us a simplistic view of good and evil, but he is absolutely right.
Don’t do it
Don’t bomb Afghanistan.
This is a new kind of war, and the answer is not with bombs—the answer is with the mind.
The U.S. must get Muslims to capture Osama bin Laden. They will do it. Muslims believe in human rights just like Americans do. What they don’t believe in is American domination—and they see American domination in the government of Saudi Arabia and in support for Israel.
Don’t bomb Afghanistan. Muslims will see it as the West attacking Muslims.
Get Muslims to find and try bin Laden.
Do you remember The Sorcerer’s Apprentice? It is a cartoon with the Sorcerer teaching a broom to sweep. But the Sorcerer finds the broom is out of control, and he tries to stop it. He smashes the broom with an ax. The Sorcerer feels he is successful—then during the night, all the little slivers become little brooms, and the Sorcerer has an even bigger problem than he started with.
If the U.S. bombs Afghanistan, there may be thousands of little bin Ladens who will come out of the woodwork to terrorize Americans.
Let America be smart. Let America be Christian. Let America support human rights around the world. Don’t give Muslim fundamentalists more of an excuse for further bloodshed.