Our readers talk back.
Props for the Cops
I wanted to take the opportunity to thank the APD for being as cooperative as they were on March 24, the International Day of Direct Action Against the War. In all my years of protesting on behalf of different just causes, I know that usually only the bad aspects of the police department are pointed out. I wanted to make sure to point out this time how appreciative I was of how the APD handled the protest. They were very professional. Keep it up.
Appreciative Anti-War Protester
Allah: No God in My Book
Sick. Sick. Sick! It's hard to describe this feeling I get when I see my fellow Texans -- politicians -- praying to "Allah" ["War Drums," March 21]. In fact, I don't have too much to say about that fact without using much profanity. I have nothing against the editor, but pass along the word to my fellow leaders who call themselves Christian.
Wesley R. Dixon
That'll Show You
Anyone who doesn't support our troops is just another reason to bring back the draft.
Hard to Tell Friend From Foe
Our military cannot possibly determine if the Iraqi civilians coming across the lines or check points are friends or the enemy -- believe me I have been there!
In August of 1951 I watched my friend being blown away by a Korean woman coming across our front lines on her way to South Korea. The North Koreans had taped a grenade to her body with the pin pulled. He came back in a box to be buried, but I doubt if his parents really knew the truth of how he gave his life for his country.
From Kris' Mom
This evening while on the Internet I typed in my son's name [Kris Van Robbins]. Your paper came up. I read the article in which this man had written about Kris backing into his car ["Postmarks," March 14]. Ironically enough, the last time I talked to Kris was on the day he decided to leave us. He mentioned what a nice man it was that he hit. Yes, Kris did hit two cars. He was very upset about this. Kris liked his job with the Chronicle. You were very good to my son, and I would just like to thank you for everything you did for my son. This is a horrible thing, and it is no way to lose your child. As the song goes, "If I had only known."
Keep Up the Protests
Louis Black thinks "it is time for the protesters to move on" ["Page Two," April 4]. For the editor of a progressive publication, he certainly seems to capitulate rapidly. I've never understood the magic mind-control force field that makes many anti-war people suddenly decide to support the war once it's actually happening. (It often seems to boil down to "supporting the troops," as if ordering them to kill and die in a disastrously wrong-headed war by a president who thinks God has called him on a crusade is supporting the troops.) Black's point seems to be that, like Macbeth, "[we] are in blood stepp'd in so far that, should [we] wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o'er." But that still does not justify ceasing to protest the war. Silence is consent. Do we really want to present a complacent façade of acceptance for Bush's actions? Surely Black is aware that the administration has given every indication that further "pre-emptive wars" are in the works. Their agenda has been clearly laid out for years by the New American Century crowd (www.newamericancentury.org), many of whom are major players in Bush's administration now. Which country will be next? Iran? Syria? Who knows? I don't want to find out. I'd rather register my dissent now and try to stop further pre-emptive wars, even if the Iraq war cannot be stopped. And I'd much rather continue to counter the pro-war propaganda; it's a pathetic travesty that half the country now thinks Saddam was behind 9/11, even though even Bush has never explicitly claimed that. (Bush simply keeps mentioning the two together until people believed there must be a connection.)
How is it possible to write about Sarah Price's new documentary, Caesar's Park ["These American Lives," March 28], without mentioning at least in passing her incredible, award-winning documentary American Movie: The Making of Northwestern? Her first and only other documentary won the Grand Jury Prize for Documentaries at the Sundance Film Festival and the People's Choice Award in Denver. Did Kimberley Jones even bother to look Price up on the Internet?
Sorry -- I should also say that I generally really like your reviews and find them informative; but this just seemed like an amazing omission.
Protect Water Quality
Water quality protection lands are not and should not be transferred to the Balcones Canyonland Preserve endangered species protection lands. The bond covenants preclude handing these lands over to species preserves. If this was worthy of consideration, it would have been raised to and endorsed by the BCP Coordinating Committee, City Council Member Will Wynn, and County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty. Todd Baxter's HB 1837 filing was fresh news to both of them.
The many citizens throughout Austin who have worked voluntarily and tirelessly to obtain bond funds, aid land purchases, and create sound management plans for the water quality protection lands throughout our community believe that these lands should remain under their stated purpose, to protect water quality. And we believe that the state of Texas should take no role or responsibility in this matter.
Bull Creek Foundation
Protest the War
Sorry Louis, I just cannot keep quiet about your latest "Page Two" ramblings [April 4]. Your dichotomy didn't sit will with my breakfast taco this morning. The statement "... support of the troops is crucial, but the focus must shift from attacking Bush to promoting America's long-term sensibility and values ... the place to lay blame is at the ballot box" made me rather ill. Opposition to the war was right before the shooting started, and opposition is still right. As a veteran of 22 years of U.S. military service, I can relate to the troops in the field, but I cannot say I support their actions. This was is a criminal act. Bush and his gang of psychopaths are war criminals as are the military leaders in the field. The dissension in the ranks reflects their true beliefs ... this war is wrong! The world stood by as the German military supported the Nazis just as the U.S. military is now supporting Bush. How different the world might now be had the German citizenry been more outspoken as the Nazis invaded Austria. A hundred million people could have been saved! The "ballot box?" Come now, Louis. The election of 2000 was stolen and you know it. What makes you think it will be any different in 2004? Read some history, Louis. The world has lived through this nightmare before. The America that you and I grew up in is gone, Louis. We'll never see it again. So this is not the time for compromise. It's the time for more forceful, nonviolent, Gandhi-style opposition. Get your people back out into the streets, Louis. The torn, rotting flesh of women and children in the streets of Iraq is but a prelude of what is to come if we do not stop the psychopaths right here, in the streets of America. Protest, Louis. Protest with your body, your mind, your heart, and your soul. We have all the world to lose.
Dump the Parties
I've considered myself to be a good transcendental rationalist for a long time. Of course, liberals and conservatives do not quite know what that means so let me help you guys out a little bit: 1) When is the last time you saw a conservative conserve anything? 2) When is the last time you saw a liberal liberate anything?
From my dictatorial point of view you're all just a bunch of minor scholars having a field day with electronic multimedia power plays. But there is another group of Americans, about 65% of us actually, who would just as well dump the Democratic and Republican parties into a pool of molten lava. But that isn't for us to determine. That's God's job. We're just here to work and sweat.
the union force,
Todd Alan Smith
Skepticism and Semantics
A letter writer called upon Louis Black, editor of The Austin Chronicle, to apologize to Alex Jones, famous Austin radio and public-access-TV host ["Postmarks," March 28]. The author asserted that Mr. Jones' view about the motives and intentions of the New World Order has been validated by current events, and Mr. Black has been obstructionist by his skepticism.
Please allow me to point out that the Chron's "Postmarks" has included letters containing rhetoric taken verbatim from Mr. Jones' show, and "Letters at 3AM" columnist Michael Ventura has been arguing along the same lines for some time. These opinions are available locally in print and internationally online.
An apology by Mr. Black is unnecessary and, besides, won't be forthcoming.
However, I demand that Mr. Black fall to his knees and beg the forgiveness of the Green Party!
All kidding aside, I have a criticism of one phrase from Mr. Black's "Page Two" several weeks ago [March, 21], as he waxed philosophical about "Operation Iraqi Freedom" and American freedoms, to wit: "... we are endowed with certain rights ..."
"Certain" is ambiguous; it can mean appreciable, assumed, particular, or indisputable, and is often qualified by adverbs, i.e., "war is almost certain."
In the U.S. Declaration of Independence, Jefferson wrote "all men ... [have] certain inalienable rights." In stark contrast, freedoms described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are granted by decree of the UN, and thus are not inalienable; a qualifying clause in that document allows confiscation of said rights by the subjective determination of unnamed judges.
Best OIF joke: "French's Mustard -- We're not French even though we're yellow." (Craig Kilborn)
Kenney C. Kennedy
Where's the Liberal Media Now?
Smashing the concept of a dominating Librul Media, all the major networks and their cable news counterparts increasingly acquiesce to the War Party with their adoption of Pentagon-inspired lingo. Did anybody notice the subtle shift from soldiers to irregulars to guerillas to terrorists to regime death-squad members? This is conspicuously orchestrated, capitalizing on a nervous public that needs good excuses for dying soldiers. Strategy: Repeat until it becomes part of the collective consciousness. This is nothing new for them. The significant jump in pro-war poll ratings don't show increased support for the war; they really show a rally of support for the troops by the anti-war crowd in a hostile political atmosphere where support for the troops was inextricably bound with support for the war itself. When this is over, and we reflect on the exaggerations, the false alarms, the denial of facts, and the excuses all with the complicity of the media, I hope to never ever hear again the whine of Librul Media bias.
PATRIOT Act Must Go
Over 300 people packed a room last night for a town hall meeting concerning the PATRIOT Act and a city resolution to oppose it. Austinites relayed their concerns, fears, and outrage at the assault on our rights.
Our Bill of Rights is being dismantled quickly, and we must act quickly to stop the second version of the PATROIT Act (the first was admittedly not read by most legislators before voting for it).
The city has spent over $20 million on federally mandated measures, so the argument that it is not our collective business is illogical.
Please visit www.bordc.org for national efforts and join in the local effort (search Google for "abordc") and engage the media to cover this atrocity before it's way too late.
This affects all of us -- regardless of politics, economic standing, or ethnicity.
Austin Bill of Rights Defense Committee
Media Ownership Rules
FCC Chairman Michael Powell has made it known that he would like to have a decision on media ownership rules by May of this year. In December of 2001 the parent companies of many major media outlets filed requests with the Federal Communications Commission to do away with the regulation of cross and multiple ownership in print and broadcast media. For reasons too lengthy to explain here, the abandonment of these rules would be a grave mistake. The mainstream media, of course, will not cover the issue. Therefore, I feel that it is up to alternative news sources such as the Chronicle to shed light upon these events in order to precipitate an informed public.
I am prepared to call someone a low-down Yankee liar -- more than once, letters in local papers have alluded to a misrepresentation of the classic Western Shane by a comedian named Bill Hicks ["Postmarks," March 28]. According to this version we are to equate Saddam Hussein with an unarmed farmer who defies the greedy cattle baron of the story and whose murder is justified by a planted weapon. Now, as anyone who has seen the movie will recall, Stonewall, the farmer in question, was the die-hard rebel hothead who went into town wearing his pistol and ready for a showdown. Fatally, he refused to back down even when he realized he was no match for the hired gun played by Jack Palance. There was no "throw-down gun." Your correspondent had better find a more accurate analogy, if he insists on missing the point of the picture, and clings to the Chomskyite ideology in which there is no external world, unavoidably presenting on occasion threats and conflicts which have to be dealt with in some way by responsible people. Pity we don't have any of those.
Austin's Weirdness Explained
Why is Austin weird? People have seen the bumper sticker that says "Keep Austin Weird" and wonder what it means. It is the people who live here that are "weird." How do they end up weird?
The problem is that in Austin there is a huge network of Austin movers and shakers. The "Austin Elite" and business CEOs are all strung together with undetectable strings that lead to powerful politicians.
And all these power brokers are like one big family, and they fight like most big families do. Sisters join with cousins to win out over other sisters or brothers. And there are unions of family members who network to dictate and promote unpopular political or social programs.
Sometimes Austinites have an accident and/or suddenly find themselves unwillingly thrust into these sticky family spider webs. And the Austin family members are pulling on the strings. And that's when the weird stuff starts happening.
The process manufactures and turns many Austinites weird. This occurs so often that these weird Austinites have caught on. Weird Austinites are now banding together in self-defense, circling the wagons.
If you want to learn how to avoid becoming a victim of these events and spider webs you need to look here: www.io.com/~bumper/weird.htm.
I have to warn you the events you will find there are probably going to make the women want to beat somebody up and the men weep. You may think the weird Austin events found there are untrue, they are not. Most people find the information interesting and definitely weird.
Dear antiwar protesters,
I wish I could say you've made your point, but frankly I'm not sure what that is, based on your wildly divergent messages. I can only conclude that you believe that if Austin motorists get where they're going in a timely fashion, the terrorists win. Or maybe it's that you like the idea of hundreds of cars idling with the AC on while you wave signs and chant. That'll teach 'em.
You may enjoy the party atmosphere, but believe me when I tell you that the rest of us are losing patience. What you're doing lately is penalizing people who have nothing to do with the problem. There are any number of things you can do to improve the world in which you live, and none of them have anything to do with calling people Nazis or keeping police from doing the jobs we (and you, I hope) pay them to do.
Protest all you want. Just don't be a selfish jerk about it.
There Is a Solider
There is a soldier; whether a private, general, or officer, he is a soldier. His feelings, actions, and mannerisms are of such variety that when blended together, they reflect America. A definite picture of the soldier is impossible. There is no rank, race, or religion. A soldier is one who has contributed his/her mind and body to service of his country. He or she is dedicated to the American way of life that many take for granted. When you take that hot shower, eat that hot meal, or cast your vote ... remember ... there is a soldier.
Cruz Collazo Jr.
Not Safe to Support Peace
I went to the "War" rally on the Capitol grounds Sunday and am lucky to get out alive! Even though I was alone and standing to the side with my "No War" sign, many pro-war folks yelled, taunted, and laughed at me for 40 minutes. Some even screamed obscenities and racist remarks at me. Some men came up to me and threatened me bodily harm if I didn't leave immediately. One young man was yelling female derogatory terms while hitting me with the American flag. They were certainly expressing their fears, hatred, and anxieties the wrong way. Not even my gray hair saved me from being totally disrespected by the children who mimicked their parents' nasty remarks at me. I felt like I was at a Nazi or KKK rally!
Their rationale didn't make any sense. Just because I'm for peace, they believed that I'm for Saddam and terrorism and against America and our troops! I stood my ground because I felt a moral obligation to not remain silent and passive about an immoral war that will only cause more global misery and terrorism. I felt that at least one sane, moral voice was needed in this mad crowd.
As a sociologist, it was terribly interesting to experience firsthand just how such negative and contagious emotions can create a mob mentality. Of course, the media didn't cover this ugly part of the event. I will always remember this day as the one I witnessed Texans at their worse. Little did they realize that such behavior is a root cause of wars, which we will all suffer the consequences of. As John F. Kennedy once said, "Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind."
No to War, Yes to Life
As we enter the third week of hostilities in Iraq, I continue to be amazed by the lack of heart shown by the media and tolerated by the citizens of this country. News reports every day mention in passing the hundreds of Iraqi soldiers killed that day, they pause briefly to mention the unfortunate death of dozens of Iraqi civilians, and then they devote an entire feature to the loss of a few American soldiers. To all those who profess to cherish life, remember that every one of those Iraqi soldiers, Iraqi civilians, and American soldiers was once a child (maybe not that long ago). Remember that they had dreams and aspirations and now those lives are no more.
Now more than ever is a time to question why so many lives must be lost. Now more than ever is a time to remember that the bravest heroes history has to offer were those who refused to resort to violence. Let me be one of the first to say, I do not support the president, and I do not support his war. Although I hope for their safety and well being, I do not support the task American soldiers are undertaking. America, where is your regard for human life? America, where is your resolve to stand up to the president of this country and say, "Enough"?