I want to commend your Sept. 20th issue. I found it interesting and most informative. Especially the feature article by Robert Herold ("We must not repeat Vietnam") was excellent (I'm a reader who still remembers the awful mistakes of Vietnam). And the letter by Tamin Ansary was an eye opener! The cartoon on page 8 (Troubletown) inspired me to write to you. "We were warned" (by Jake Tapper) was condemnatory in the sense that we need to wake up to our lethargy.
So that the bombing's victims didn't die in vain, let us seek the following:
Fusing: Uniting of healing communities with a hurting world. Finding ways to help relieve some of those starving, sick and hurting people in Africa, Asia, Europe, in our Americas and parts of the rest of the world, now that we realize that tragedy is not so far away from us as we used to think. Recalling that not only did Americans die, but representatives of some 86 nations also perished in those blasts and crashes.
Appreciation: For life given to ourselves, but also for those who daily put their lives on the line for us: pilots, medics, firemen, law enforcement officers and others.
Perspective: Life's personal problems aren't so large as before. Couples thinking divorce now see their struggles as petty in the light of our national tragedy. Egotistic and materialistic desires to get ahead aren't as important. Life's brevity and the desire for security and comfort -- all must take a back seat to moral and social values which formed the standards for our country in the first place.
Caring: While our government is doing what it is mandated to do at this time (i.e., ferreting out terrorists and seeking to prevent terrorism), the rest of us must seek out ways to overcome evil with good, both in our local communities and abroad. True, Jesus' saying "love your enemies" has taken on a new meaning now as compared to before Sept. 11. For many of us, the thought that there are people who have been planning our destruction and who may strike anywhere, any time, is a new concept. We wish it existed only in science fiction. But if we can come up with ways of showing by example and by word that there are other ways to destroy evil, let us do so.
The great president Lincoln found a way. When he was asked why he didn't destroy his political enemies, he said: "I do. If I make my enemies my friends, am I not destroying them?"
I am troubled by Robert Herold"s latest commentary, "The Need for Sacrifice" (10/4/01). Herold carelessly trivializes the grave threat to constitutional rights and civil liberties inherent in any "time of national crisis." As a nation, we look back in shame at the unconscionable excesses of the Red Scare and Palmer raids in the World War I era, the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II, the McCarthyite persecutions at the height of the Cold War, and the FBI and federal government's abuses of power during the Vietnam War, including illegal infiltration and surveillance, culminating in the disgraceful Watergate scandal.
These abuses were perpetrated by government officials fervently convinced that they were acting in the national interest in times of crisis. Yet such officials betrayed the nation they sought to serve by placing themselves above the law and flouting the Constitution. In responding to the threat of terrorism, domestic or foreign, it is critical that we do not destroy the nation we are trying to save.
The Constitution and laws of the United States are not "academic niceties." They are the bedrock foundation of the American experiment in constitutional democracy. When properly enforced by an independent judiciary, they are a critical bulwark against a tyranny of the majority. The Constitution and laws are not obstacles to protecting national security; they are the substance of the nation that we must protect.
Mr. Herold alludes to President Lincoln's suspension of the writ of habeas corpus as, perhaps, historical justification for invasion and curtailment of constitutional rights and civil liberties in times of crisis. Yet Mr. Herold neglects to note that article I, section 9 of the United States Constitution provides, "The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it." Therefore, in the extreme case of 'Rebellion or Invasion,' which was confronted by President Lincoln but is not presented today, constitutional justification may exist for the extraordinary step taken by President Lincoln. Mr. Herold also neglects to note that the Supreme Court found some of Lincoln's actions illegal, in a decision issued after the Civil War.
"Legitimate criticisms" of the government's policies and practices can and should be made, for such dialogue is the essence of democracy. Mr. Herold would do well to remember that the shield of the First Amendment guarantees him the freedom of speech he derides others for exercising.
David Blair-Loy, Center For Justice
I find it interesting that the people who are 'suddenly patriotic'
since the incident four weeks ago find it impossible to view themselves in a broader scope than "Americans -- the Greatest People on the face of the planet." When will we see ourselves as human beings? When will we see the people of other nations, colors, and cultures as equals?
I've heard enough turban jokes and bashing of people in a country that is no less important than ours. No one (at least no one with a podium and the power behind it) has considered the idea of peace. No one believes in compassion anymore. No one sees people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and pretty much anywhere other than the U.S. as more than second-class beings just taking up our space.
Do we really think we'll get closure by demolishing a small nation, the majority of whose citizens have no freedom or rights? (Don't get me started on freedom). Let's just say for the sake of argument that Sept. 11 was indeed the work of a criminal mastermind from the Middle East. Will blowing up a country or even an entire continent ease the pain of the families of those who have died? I think not.
Instead, why don't we start to recognize ourselves as members of this galaxy, of this planet, one species among millions. Why don't we get off our high horses and realize that Americans are not the reason the planet exists. We've been here a few hundred years, and we think we're so invincible. We send armies into other nations, fighting a fight that isn't ours, and we have the nerve to be so appalled and shocked and horrified when someone dares to attack us. I'm sick of the patriotic media pandering, especially when it comes from people who (maybe for three seconds) think "Oh, what a shame," when people in any other country die from natural disasters, terrorist attacks, etc.
I submit to you that if this had happened in any country other than ours, it would've have taken up two minutes on the local evening news, and no one would have given a damn. Aren't people on the other side of the world just as human as we are? Doesn't their blood flow just as red? We should be horrified, we should be appalled, we should be saddened, and we should grieve. Because life was stolen. Human lives. Not American lives. Let's all have a little perspective.
Jessica R. Hyson-Close
During the week of Holy Terror that has, unfortunately, landed on our shores from abroad, it was repulsive to read Gary Kamiya's essay in The Inlander stating that America "must pressure Israel to take concrete steps to provide justice for the Palestinian people" in order to create a "safer world." His 'analysis' is half-baked.
Bin Laden's Saudi connections and the fanatical drive against modern Western culture, in the form represented by America, has been unequivocally detailed by the media; his previous attacks on our embassies, military installations, and the World Trade Center attest to his followers' dangerous beliefs. Where's the connection to, and why the blame on Israel?
If one correctly assumes that international terrorism originated with, and is cultivated by Arafat and the PLO (remember the killings of Israeli Olympic athletes in Munich, a paralyzed American tourist pushed overboard from an Italian cruise ship; hijacked Israeli passengers to Uganda, etc.), then there is a Middle East connection.
If one correctly assumes that Israel is the only pro-Western (remember the Soviet-backed war failures of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan etc.) democratic government in a hostile region, then there is a Middle East connection because Israel serves as a target (remember Hussein's SCUD missiles?) for these terrorists.
No, the onus for Middle East peace does not rest with the U.S. (see the British and French failures of the past) nor Israel any more. After multiple wars/invasions and internal terrorism against civilians, you can't squeeze any more concessions out of a weary people and small acreage.
Here's a better idea -- establish a homeland in Trans-Jordan, as was decreed in the U.N. mandate of 1948, for any Palestinian Arab. Have Jordan reverse its previous expulsion of the PLO and take them back and deal with them. Have Kuwait reverse its previous expulsion of Palestinian workers and let them live and work there. Have the oil-rich OPEC cartel infuse the Palestinian economy with funds for social and business (not military) ventures. In short, have all of these numerous Arabic states do for their people what Israel did for persecuted Jews worldwide: take 'em in and develop something of value, like a country. In this matter, Arabs do have an advantage over Israel -- more land and much oil.
The terrorism of the Middle East has spread like a cancer throughout the planet. It is illogical and unrewarding to consider the terrorists as victims of American foreign policy. Furthermore, peace marches here will be viewed by others abroad as nothing more than a sign of weakness. The perpetrators of terrorism must be punished; the financing, supplying, and hosting of these groups need to be curtailed. Killing of humans in offices, busses, cafes, markets, ships, airplanes etc. is just as unacceptable in Tel Aviv as it is in New York.
I write regarding the "On The Street" column (The Inlander, Sept. 27). In response to the question, 'What are your thoughts about all that's happening?' Erin Miller was reported as saying: "I think first of all we need to close all our borders. No foreigners in the United States whatsoever. [If they're legal] I think they need to conform 100 percent to American ways, and speak English; they need to go by our religion standards instead of theirs, you know?"
As a sociology professor, I maintain that closing borders in a global society such as ours would be an impossible task. As an American, I am horrified by how easily Miller surrenders the ideals of liberty and religious freedom upon which our great country was founded.
As an Episcopal priest, I am curious what Miller means by "our religion standards." Do Episcopalians qualify? What about my Jewish friends? What about my Muslim friends? And what does Miller propose to do about all those "foreigners" living in the U.S.? My sister is preparing for her wedding to her long-term boyfriend, who was not born in the United States. Should he be deported and the wedding called off? He and she are bilingual. Should they dare to teach their hoped-for children Spanish?
I'm not sure what "religion standards" Miller adheres to. But if she cares at all about the Bible, I remind her that God continually commands God's people to welcome and care for the strangers in our midst (e.g., Exodus 22:21 and 23:9), as God has cared for us. Jesus commands us to love our neighbor, and, in the parable of the Good Samaritan, is adamant that our neighbors are precisely those whom the broader society sees as national and religious outcasts (Luke 10:29-37).
The Reverend Dr. Mary Blair-Loy
What an insightful commentary and wonderful piece of writing by Bob Herold ("The need for sacrifice," Sept. 27).
My strongest recollection from Sept. 11, aside from sheer horror, was an instant and absolute sense that the world will never be the same. Herold has provided a framework that helps me, at least, to inch toward some perspective.
Mary Ellen Myrene
Your article on the small towns ("Going, going gone?" Sept. 27) and how they affect the fabric of America caught my attention. But when I read the article I couldn't help feeling irritated with the negativism.
I understand they are slowly shrinking in size and population. The article doesn't go into the reason. These communities are primarily made up of farmers and their families; the towns are here to support them. I assume I don't need to explain what has happened over the last 10 to 15 years to the farmers.
What I may need to explain to you are the positive sides to these small communities. We love living in Mayberry, or rather Oakesdale. I work in Spokane full time and it's well worth the 45-minute drive. I'm a volunteer fireman, EMT and park board chairman. This year, as you did mention, we broke ground on our large, new fire station. We are applying for a grant so we can add an ambulance to our services. Our park has just been fitted with an underground sprinkler system, and with more help from the community we were able to do a complete repaint and facelift. We even have fish, octopus and sharks painted in the pool.
The 420 people in this community support it with everything they have. The levies pass, the volunteers help and everyone waves when you go by.
Your article, when talking about Oakesdale, mentions, "Having to travel for even the most basic services, such as car repairs or hair appointments, not only contributes to severing the already frail community bonds, but also drains money out of community coffers."
First of all, where you were standing in front of the Bookbindery, is only two doors down from Root 66 Hair Studio, and in the color picture of downtown you can see a grain truck nosed into the full-service gas station.
What these small forgotten towns need are fair, accurate and more positive articles promoting the terrific schools, sports and businesses that are still here. Because we would not want to "risk losing a crucial part of the fabric of America" just to make the article more interesting.
I'm sure that Latah Bank, Post Office, Root 66, Crooks Insurance, Crossetts Food Mart, Farm and Home Supply, Library, Museum, Park & amp; Pool, Larry's Service, Co-Ag, Gardener Oil, McGregor, Wilbur Ellis, School District, Fire District, and even the Bookbindery would appreciate some respect and gratitude for hanging in there while things are tight. I really don't think they are here for the money!
While reading the "On the Street" section (Sept. 27), I felt more dread than when I saw the Twin Towers collapse. I saw something much more dangerous than a whole army of terrorists. While terrorists are not as easy to defeat as a standing army in the field, there still is a target to attack. Even though it may be a long fight, they can be overcome. Bin Laden can hide, but sooner or later he will be found. Even if we never find him, he will eventually die of old age. He will be a terrorist no more.
What frightened me so much in the Sept. 27 issue was an idea. Maybe not so much the idea but the fact that such an idea could even exist in our country. What I am referring to is the response by Erin Miller: "[Legal foreigners in the U.S.] need to go by our religion standards instead of theirs." Whoa! Read that again and think about it.
This is one of the most dangerous things that I have heard said in a long time. How a citizen of this nation could have such lack of knowledge about what makes this nation so special and free is frightening. How have we failed her? Have we failed a whole generation of people? Do we not teach any basics in our educational system any more? Little things like The Constitution? Small things like the reasons many of the people came here in the first place; perhaps even her own family's reasons for immigrating. Things like basic freedoms that we, and she, take for granted way too often.
Terrorists we can fight. Biological attacks we will overcome. Chemical and nuclear attacks will kill only people. But ignorance and apathy will destroy more than people; it will destroy the very fabric of this society. It will suck us down from within to a point from which we will not recover. For our citizens to fail to understand the very basics of the concept of what this country is -- that is what frightens me.
As individuals, death eventually comes to us all. The concept of this country is a great and powerful thing. It outlasts the individual lives of its citizens. It can be passed on to our children and their children, but only if they know what it is. I challenge all of us to understand what we have here and to teach the next generation what it is that we are giving them. If we don't, then we will have failed them. Let us not fail. That is a battle we must not lose.