Letters for September 29, 2005
Practice unity, reject neocons
Re “The neocons’ bathtub” by Kel Munger (SN&R Essay, September 22):
As usual, Kel Munger nails it. The aftermath of Katrina has been quite revealing.
First, the socioeconomics of our “darlin’ Big Easy,” New Orleans: 35 percent living below the poverty line, two-thirds of the city’s population black. Why debate whether the response was racial? We all clearly know who’s been excluded from the American dream here: those poor unable to escape the city.
Second: Ordinarily, it would be counterproductive to play the “blame game” following a disaster such as Katrina. In this case, it’s quite instructive. Americans couldn’t help but be struck by the inaction of Bush and his two Michaels (Brown and Chertoff) after the hurricane: folks stranded on and in their houses, not being rescued or provided food/water, unable to get out of New Orleans—incredibly tragic, seemingly avoidable. Now we learn that [Federal Emergency Management Agency] staff had informed top management that the hurricane would require immediate and extraordinary effort, but were stunned by the inaction of their bosses just prior to landfall.
So, we now see the enormous consequences of the “starve the beast” strategy: Grover Norquist’s tax cuts, the neocons’ Iraq war and Bush’s appointments mean we’ll be paying down huge debts and trying to rebuild federal staffing for decades. Bush’s legacy is easily the most adverse impact on our government of any president in our lifetime, perhaps in our history, and a most divisive impact on a nation formerly known for its unity and community.
Finally, there is hope that this can be tipped in the other direction. Witness the many individuals and organizations that have jumped to the aid of evacuees on the Gulf Coast in a huge spirit of community, of inclusion.
Locally, that spirit of inclusion—as opposed to the neocons’ exclusion—is exemplified by the Call for Unity event, a statement of tolerance and community, and by individuals like Faith Whitmore (to be honored that night for her unifying work), Don Fado and many others who work tirelessly so that the circle of those included can be drawn wider and wider still.
Scholarship leads to humility
Re “No turtles and logs, just yohms and chughs” (SN&R Letters, September 22):
I always appreciate it when Christians (one of which I sort of am) display a little basic scholarship in their approach to scripture, so I’m delighted that Diane Church can talk intelligently about yohms and chughs, ancient Hebrew words, apparently, for the Genesis “day,” and Isaiah’s word for the “round” shape of the Earth. I only wish that all Christians followed her scholarly lead.
I am only a “sort-of” Christian because of the whole of the biblical texts and their multifarious tales and lessons (some admirable and well-suited to our times, others not so), not because of one or two words or concepts.
My advice to Diane Church and all Christians is to keep reading and keep thinking. Such a course will free her out of what I call the tyranny of the One Good Book and into the wisdom that truth comes in many forms and from many sources. The result for the Christian is deeper humility and awe before the miracle of God’s creation.
“Fictional” readers exist
Re “Inside the Bee’s Ivory Tower” by Jeffrey M. Barker (SN&R Cover, September 15):
Jeffrey M. Barker’s story assumes that readers like me are a “fiction.” Every morning, I go to a coffee shop, pick up a Sacramento Bee and a café latte, and sit down to read. I read the news as well as the editorial op-ed pieces.
I care what others think, although I use my own mind to critically digest what they write.
I have done this for the last 10 years since moving to Sacramento. I see the Bee as liberal on some issues and somewhat conservative on others. I read other newspapers on the Web and read their editorial and op-ed pages as well. I also read lots of books.
In the coffee shop, I often notice the other readers of newspapers have the editorial pages open.
I guess I am just one of those “fictional” dinosaurs who like to read a wide range of opinion on the issues of the day and find the editorial pages useful as stimulators of critical thought. The “fictional” reader referred to at the end of Barker’s essay really does exist. He is as real as the presumed reader of SN&R!
Re “Going up?” (SN&R 15 minutes, September 22):
Interviewee Helen Jenkins’ age was incorrect in the first paragraph of this article. Jenkins is 78. This has been corrected on the Web site.