Letters for September 30, 2004

Find another mascot

Re “The silly season” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol punishment, September 16):

Jill Stewart has outdone herself with this racist article. She isn’t Native American. I am, and I know no Indians who feel honored by the term “redskin.” I know no Indians who like being mascots—what a ridiculous idea. “Redskin” is equivalent to “nigger,” “spic” and “chink.” I’m sorry to have to write these words, but that’s really the only way to get the point across. Mascots such as “braves,” “chiefs” and “redskins” do not keep history alive; they only keep inequality alive.

Here’s a bit of history: The term “redskin” originates from the scalping and mutilation that was done to Indians to provide proof of their murders for a bounty. Here’s a bit of contemporary fact: Look up the term “redskin” in any dictionary. It will be defined as an offensive term. Got all that, Jill?

The history concerning our burials, sacred objects and sacred sites is atrocious. The more protections in place to end this history of oppression, the better. Obviously Stewart does not care about this, but many do. I suppose next she’ll say there’s a bunch of Indians out there who consider having our sacred sites bulldozed an honor.

Stewart’s attitude toward native people leaves me disgusted. Has Indian-hating become chic again? Her hopes have come true; Arnold vetoed Assembly Bill 858, legislation designed to put a dent in racism. Justice has been dealt a blow this week.

Anthony Burris

Who’s a special interest?

Re “The silly season” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol punishment, September 16):

Did Jill Stewart really have to wonder out loud in her column why most California media outlets don’t publish her articles? The reason is pretty simple: She can’t get her facts straight.

Her latest column about the Legislature is a case in point. She says that former Governor Gray Davis vetoed Senate Bill 18, legislation that would have protected Native American sacred sites from being paved over, in 2003. Actually, it was 2002 (Senate Bill 1828). After the veto, Governor Davis worked closely with Senator John Burton to re-craft the bill in 2003, and it received broad support, only failing because there was little time for reconsideration in the session’s final days. This year’s legislation, which Stewart calls “awful,” won bipartisan support. Apparently not everyone believes, as Stewart does, that we should insult Native Americans one more time by building K-Marts on the burial grounds of their forefathers.

Stewart also ridicules a number of other bills that have been introduced by legislators. What Stewart doesn’t seem to understand is that much of this legislation is generated by California citizens and introduced by legislators on their behalf. Assemblyman Joe Simitian, for example, has a contest every year called “It Ought to Be a Law.” He typically receives thousands of ideas, many of which have become law. Not all of them are law-worthy in the end, but they generate debate. That’s what happens in a democracy, something that Stewart and our governor, who wants the Legislature to be part-time servants of King Arnold’s court, apparently disdain.

It’s too bad Stewart didn’t dwell on the bills that were on the forefront of the Assembly Democrats’ agenda this year: keeping energy rates from skyrocketing, lowering prescription-drug costs, stopping companies with state contracts from sending jobs offshore, capping auto-loan interest rates and raising the minimum wage. The “people’s governor” is set to veto all these bills. But as Arnold’s shill, I guess Stewart can’t be bothered with writing about what’s important to Californians. Maybe that’s the reason most newspapers in the state consider her rants irrelevant. Hopefully, SN&R will join them— or at least force her to get her facts straight.

Steven Maviglio

The author, currently a consultant for Assembly Democrats, is the former press secretary for Governor Gray Davis.

Jill Stewart responds: Steve Maviglio is right on one factual correction: Senate Bill 18 died before it got to Davis’ desk in 2003. However, Maviglio is not forthcoming about what killed SB 18 and why it’s so bad. SB 18 was widely ridiculed for giving an obscure American Indian heritage commission sweeping, closed-door powers over California housing and commercial development—even on land utterly lacking American Indian sites. Legislators and the embattled Davis, desperate for big contributions from rich tribes, failed to rein in most of SB 18’s abuses, even as radio commentators, some newspapers and many Republicans hammered it. It died because it didn’t pass the smell test. Our bad laws are indeed “generated by California citizens”—special interests, not average people. Little doubt why a reworked SB 18 is back in 2004.

Minority report

Re “Advice and dissent” (SN&R Cover, September 9):

Thank you for publishing the views of various dissidents. It is enlightening to read the actual thoughts and philosophies of such intellectual giants as Dr. Susan Block, Ed Asner, Sherman Austin, etc.

It is life-affirming to realize that people who think like SN&R staff and those dissidents always have been, and always will be, a miniscule minority with negligible impact on our society or world.

F. Thomas Cianci