Letters for September 27, 2001

Best of Sacramento?

I’m writing regarding your “Best Of Sacramento: Sacto Bizarro” issue (9/20/01). As a recently transplanted San Franciscan, I was pleasantly surprised after moving here to find that, contrary to popular opinion, Sacramento is a quite nice place to live! My preconceived notions of Sacto as a backwards, redneck cow-town were washed away by seeing Midtown neighborhoods with tree-lined streets, friendly people and plenty of mom & pop businesses of all sorts. You can imagine how pleased I was to discover places like the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op or the Freeport Bakery or the Old Tavern Casino.

And after thumbing through your “Best Of Sacramento: Sacto Bizarro” issue it’s clear that there are many other interesting places to check out … at least until I got to the “Readers’ Choice” sections. That’s where I became dumbfounded. Maybe someone can help me understand how, in a city of seemingly intelligent people, the readers’ choices look like a “who’s who” of shitty corporate chains. I mean, I am sure I’m not the first or only person to have this epiphany, but is there some kind of city-wide epidemic of brain damage? For example, in a city that has several cute, quaint and kitschy gift shops, is Target really the best place to shop for gifts? In an area with a huge Hispanic population and tons of great Mexican restaurants, is the best margarita in town really at Chevy’s?

So … in an effort to assimilate more cleanly into my new environment, I have decided if you can’t beat ’em, then join ’em! Yeah … why support a long-standing family owned business like Merlino’s Freeze when you can go to Jamba Juice for a smoothie? What’s the point of a dangerous proposition like seeking out and trying something new when you can choose from so many fine eating establishments like Black Angus or the Olive Garden. Screw Paragary’s … I’m going to the best restaurant in town (according to News & Review readers)—the Outback Steakhouse! Look for me; I’ll be the one in the Tommy Hilfiger shirt drinking a Bud Light and singing along to the new Destiny’s Child song blasting from the jukebox. And if you’re lucky, I’ll drive my SUV straight into the Sacramento River on the way home.

Mike Jones

Evil & good hits mark!

I applaud the courage that your editorial staff displayed in your editorial, “Evil and Good,” in the September 20 edition. You wisely comment that “turning our legitimate desire for justice into a battle against evil could compound this tragedy with more innocent lives … .” Your editorial was a welcome relief from the almost hysterical demand for revenge promoted ceaselessly by right-wing talk radio hosts and the mainstream media since the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. The American people need to ask why this attack occurred. Only by conducting an in-depth evaluation of our country’s failed foreign policy will we stop the killing of more innocent people.

It is interesting that many of the conservative talk show hosts now calling for revenge against the “terror network” headed by bin Laden were advocating support of these same extreme religious fundamentalists as “freedom fighters” when they were fighting the Soviets. The recent attacks in New York and Washington are a classic case of “Blowback”—a code term that the CIA uses to describe an agent or operation that has turned on its creators. Osama bin Laden personifies “blowback.” The perpetuators of the attacks must be held accountable and prosecuted for their murder of innocent people. Likewise, U.S. government officials who funded and armed bin Laden—if he is the guiding hand behind the attacks—must ultimately be held accountable for the carnage. U.S. officials must also be held accountable for the murder of millions of innocent civilians over the past five decades by the U.S. military and their proxies in Vietnam, Cambodia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, East Timor, El Salvador, Iraq, Yugoslavia and a host of other countries. Only by dramatically changing our foreign policy from one that promotes war and economic intervention to one that fosters social justice and peace will we stop further terrorist attacks on innocent civilians in our country.

Dan Bacher
via e-mail

Smaller than Texas

After witnessing President Bush’s unofficial Declaration of War against Afghanistan last night, all Americans should know at least a little about Afghanistan. It is a large Muslim country with a general population of over 26 million people, actual human beings who live, toil and have real families. It is located in southern Asia and is slightly smaller than Texas with 647,500 sq km. It borders China, Iran and Pakistan.

It should be patent that there could be substantial ‘collateral damage’ to innocent civilians in large population centers. The big question here is: How much so-called collateral damage is allowable in a real war situation before it decays into out-and-out substantial genocide against unarmed innocent civilians?

I had a brief conversation over breakfast this morning about the Afghan situation with a Vietnam-vet friend and he said “we ought a’ go kill them all and go after Saddam while we are at it!” Does that sound slightly familiar, like an old battle cry?

I pray we all come together as humane beings in the days and weeks to come in order to punish those evil-doers who are really responsible for the World Trade Center attack on America, but stand strong against indiscriminate wholesale mass killings of innocent civilians in the name of ‘collateral damage.’

Peter S. Lopez
via e- mail