Acting Up in Nob Hill
On a recent shopping trip in the Nob Hill area, I noticed that the sacks covering the parking meters had been festooned with various slogans and statistics concerning the level of consumerism in America. As funny and true as I found many of these, and as opposed as I am to the consumer culture, I was troubled. Wouldn't such a protest be better directed at Wal-Mart or Target than at the hard-working and long-suffering local merchants in the area? Obviously there is a much better chance of being stopped or even arrested in these places, but isn't that the point of activism, to draw attention? Come on, activists, sack up and scandalize the real bad guys for a change.
This letter is in response to Tony O'Gorman's letter ["One Holy State," Dec. 2-9]. I'm a liberal Democrat to the core, but the one thing I seem to differ with them about is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I can't understand why liberals in this country often blindly stand up for Palestinians without being fully informed about both sides of the issue; is it just to stand up for the underdog regardless of whether or not their actions are moral? Is it just to oppose Republicans no matter what?
Don't get me wrong—I don't blindly agree with the Israelis either, and I really believe they need to make some serious changes in policy. But I have family and friends there and have spent a lot of time there, and I have to say there were a few statements in Tony O'Gorman's letter that I disagree with, and many things that I feel he left out.
I was pretty offended by the comparison to Apartheid. As far as I know the South Africans were just massacred—even shot in the backs in large groups, with no regard for who was a criminal and who wasn't. Also, while Black South Africans clearly hated their White oppressors, they did not spread mass-media (or any other) messages of hatred and violence on any kind of scale that is comparable to the Palestinians. The only TV many Palestinians have access to and watch (and I've seen it) is packed with shows about hating Jews, Israel and America. There are shows for little children that teach how to make bombs, and that advocate suicide bombing of Israelis—I guarantee that you will never find anything like this on Israeli television. Additionally, while Black South Africans certainly and rightfully defended themselves, they didn't plan violence—they didn't indiscriminately murder massive amounts of white children and workers, which happens on a regular basis in Israel as a result of Palestinian suicide bombs.
O'Gorman also said, "The Palestinians have been under occupation since 1948." This implies that all of a sudden Jews just came in and took the whole country away. While land was taken from some Palestinian families (and I believe this was wrong), Jews have always lived in Israel—there have been both Jews and Muslims there for thousands of years. He also ignored the facts: 1) Every time there have been peace talks, Israel has been willing to give Palestinians everything or almost everything Arafat asked for, and every time Arafat said no to peace in the end. 2) In 1967 the Palestinians went to Jordan where they attempted a hostile takeover of the government, and King Hussein murdered them and eventually banished them from Jordan (they were treated far worse there than they ever were in Israel). 3) The Palestinians are much better off (which is not to say perfect or in no need of improvement) than any other average Arab in the Middle East. Nonroyal Saudis for instance don't have half of what Palestinians do. 4) Finally, Islam teaches the concept of Holy War, Jihad. Moderate Muslims will say this has to do with the internal struggle to live as a Muslim and be holy, but it is taught to Palestinians and their children through hatred and violence. Judaism has no such thing.
Look at the way this could have gone. In 1948 when the United Nations gave Israel to the Jews partially in response to their decimation and homelessness caused by the Holocaust, they could have just gotten rid of the Palestinians—just killed them or kicked them out (as they've said they will do to the Israelis if they ever can, and as many men have done to "conquered land"). But they've never done it—instead they've had peace talks time and time again, never giving up a dream of peace—not revenge, but peace. Clearly the Israelis need to examine and change some of their actions (in my opinion, they could use a change in government as well). It's certainly not OK to bulldoze people's houses. But it's also never OK to get on a public bus and blow up 50 people on their way to work and school. This can never be condoned. And while the Israelis must definitely do their part, this doesn't have a chance of working until hatred and violence is no longer being taught to children, and true, honest compromise is a possibility.
Open Letter to Heather Wilson
I have written to you a couple of times expressing my concerns about the direction our country is going. In particular, I have written about protecting the rights of gay American citizens from the predations of fundamentalists and about the threat of a new AIDS epidemic in the United States and New Mexico.
These are serious issues that will impact our state and our nation for years to come. I believe my concerns warrant a better response than a newsletter touting your successes.
I may not be from your party, and I don't expect to change your mind. But if I may remind you, you were elected to represent all of us, liberal, conservative, Christian, pagan, straight, gay, Republican, Democrat, and everyone in between. At this point I don't feel that you are doing so, because, apparently, my concerns are of no consequence to you.
By comparison, when I expressed the same concerns to Sen. Jeff Bingaman I received a well thought out and personal letter. Perhaps written by an aide, and not completely to my liking, but at least I got something other than a form letter.
Your treatment of constituents with whom you disagree leaves much to be desired.
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