Keep It Up -- I just wanted you to know that recently I have given up TV and newspapers in general, except for The Inlander. If I see your paper anywhere at anytime, I pick it up. It is a great paper, and one I will read every week till I no longer can read anymore. Keep it up; we need journalism like yours. It's refreshing.
Norman A. Oss
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Don't Cancel Project -- This is in response to Michael Bowen's article on The Laramie Project cancellation at Lewis and Clark High School (10/10/02). It was reported that the play was abruptly cancelled at LCHS (after it had been promoted, fundraised, auditioned and rehearsed) because of the use of profane and derogatory words in the script as identified by a parent complaint and a quick follow-up "glance" at the script by officials.
This seemingly well-intended decision missed the point. Entirely.
First and most obvious was the total lack of credit given to educated high school students for their capacity to understand the difference between a word itself, the context in which it is used and the playwrights' meaning.
Secondly, there was a complete disregard for the teacher, a seasoned actor, director and experienced high school drama teacher who chose this play to accomplish specific learning objectives, who anticipated the need for facilitating the understanding of this play and who had put processes in place that utilized the expertise of the community.
The Laramie Project is a play about the aftermath of a hate crime, which is the ultimate failure of a society to accept differences in its members. Now the opportunity to teach this vital life lesson by using the powerful springboard of live theater has been missed. And this by a school that deleted the entire budget for the Drama Department this year.
Who's Terrorizing Whom? -- Having just finished reading your commentary on William Bennett and his attempt to out-McCarthy McCarthy ("Making the List," 10/10/02), I find the commentary rather amusing because this is supposed to be a conservative Republican looking so hard for enemies of the state that he is prepared to go the route of a police state in order to discover who those enemies might be.
But even if former administrations, both Democrat and Republican, and previous Congresses had done something similar to what Americans for Victory Over Terrorism (AVOT) is intending to do now, wasn't it only the Republicans themselves who argued against these sort of actions? Now it is the Republicans who so fear criticism of Bush that they will apply AVOT to weed out the undesirables.
Twenty years ago, terrorists faced criminal prosecution. Even 10 years ago, terrorists still faced criminal prosecution. Now, we have not only a war on terror but also a war on democratic principles. Seems to me that AVOT takes us far closer to a dictatorship than any other "act of enforcing patriotism" had before it. And yes, I happen to be a conservative Republican -- someone who still values democratic principles and a constitutional republic. Obviously, in their great haste, Bennett and Bush have found it quite necessary to abandon old conservative truths: Yes, limited government; yes, rule of law; yes, original intent of the U.S. Constitution. Bennett seems to have made it quite plain, with the invention of AVOT, to be fully at war with Conservatism. That's why your commentary is so amusing.
Joan E. Harman
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Imperialistic Debate, Please -- John Hols' letter, "American Empire?," on October 10 will, I hope, ignite a dialogue on Bush's apparent objective of global domination by the U.S.
The 2002 book Wealth and Democracy, by Kevin Phillips, described the historical situations in which both Great Britain and the Netherlands rose to global dominance, turned their attention to financial causes and then suffered significant declines. Phillips then makes the prediction that the U.S. is near the peak of its global power. There is no question that the U.S. is preoccupied with financial matters and that the Bushies are focused on economic and military superiority.
A recent article by the deputy editorial page editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jay Bookman, deals with the issue.
"Why does the administration seem unconcerned about an exit strategy from Iraq once Saddam is toppled?" asks Bookman. "Because we won't be leaving. Having conquered Iraq, the United States will create permanent military bases in that country from which to dominate the Middle East."
The Bush administration plan marks a significant departure from previous approaches, a change that it attributes largely to Sept. 11.
"To address the terrorism threat, the president's report [National Security Strategy, a document in which each administration outlines its approach to defending the country] lays out a newly aggressive military and foreign policy, embracing pre-emptive attack against perceived enemies," continues Bookman. "It speaks in blunt terms of... ignoring international opinion if that suits U.S. interests.
"The cost of such a global commitment would be enormous. In 2000, we spent $281 billion on our military, which was more than the next 11 nations combined. By 2003, our expenditures will have risen to $378 billion. In other words, the increase in our defense budget from 1999-2003 will be more than the total amount spent annually by China."
Hold on to your seat; we're in for a really bumpy ride.