ON BLAME AND ANGER
I have been following with interest the history, commentary and reactions to the anarchist and eco-radical movements in Eugene. Yes, we each have different landmarks and roads on our individual maps, but people, please stop and just look at the road dust on your own feet. It is the same dust as everyone else's! Why impatiently argue over the map when we all have the same compass, the compassionate desire for peace and justice?
The meeting of everyone's needs, from the anarchist to the Republican or the apathetic hedonist, is the definition of a functional democracy. We invent the future as we move forward together, and we are moving as one body, like it or not, weak and powerful together. It takes more courage and strength of character to trust our companions on this journey, to create dialogue and risk-taking communication, to maintain speed and change lanes, than it does to take a stand.
Blame and anger narrow and constrict movement, eliminate creative answers and feed the domination paradigm, and, quite frankly, we cannot afford to betray our own dignity and sovereignty by participating in games of power and intimidation. Most people will tell you that the beloved community that King and Gandhi envisioned is really where they would prefer to live, and they are in despair about our culture ever providing that for them. As soon as the dilemma is reframed as beloved community coming from within themselves, it disappears.
Compassion appears naturally when we take responsibility for it.
David Hazen, The Peace Alliance Campaign for a Department of Peace, Eugene
Regarding the article in the Dec. 28 issue entitled "Holiday Protests," as a longtime resident of Oregon I am disgusted that liberal, intolerant activists would choose Christmas as a time to go to a personal residence and make some kind of protest. That is totally over the line and indicative of the kind of leftist intolerance that the radical environmentalists in this area think is OK. It is not OK, and residents of southwest Eugene and others are shocked at this kind of activist behavior. How would those protesters like it if others who disagreed with their politics went to their houses at the holidays and did this kind of activity?
The problem with the left and this kind of protest is they just don't get it. The liberals like the environmentalist wacko movement want us to tolerate their views even when it's clearly over the line. In this "Holiday Protests" article clearly environmentalism is a new religion for these people who apparently have nothing better to do at the Christmas holidays than to go to someone's personal residence — for two days — and harass them. By the second day even the neighbors had had enough. One gal could be heard telling them to "Move on," which the protesters finally did.
EW's editors and writers are wrong to promote this kind of behavior. The left needs to show more respect for those folks who disagree with them, especially at the holidays. Clearly the left is too intolerant and should be condemned in a town that supposedly respects diversity. This kind of behavior backfires on the activists and their supporters like Eugene Weekly.
Suzanne L. Penegor, Eugene
I would like to thank Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice for helping me understand the noble cause that has cost us thousands of lives and billions of dollars. The war in Iraq is an investment (to put money to use by purchase or expenditure in something offering profitable returns) and Ms. Rice says it's "worth the investment." I'm no financial wizard like Ms. Rice, but I think the $2 billion that disappeared along with the former Iraqi electricity minister Alham al-Samaraie was a bad investment.
Alham al-Samaraie was freed from a Baghdad police station in the green zone by a group of heavily armed "private" security agents. Alham, a U.S. citizen, was facing trial on 13 charges of corruption. The charges concern an estimated $2 billion in missing funds for contracts on rebuilding Iraq's electrical infrastructure.
Alham has a home in Chicago and emailed The Chicago Tribune that he is OK and plans on returning home after the new year.
No wonder the Iraqi people are mad at us. They don't understand how capitalism works.
Michael T. Hinojosa, Drain
NO TURNING BACK
The international traps we continue to dig and fall into are becoming deeper and deeper. In fact, there no longer are any simple methods of escape for us. "Bring the troops home" is a nice-sounding, simple-minded slogan. We will need to go much further than that. Only with a comprehensive awareness can we avert the catastrophes looming before us in 2007.
India's nuclear weapons are directed against Pakistan's nukes. The U.S. supplies both countries with weapons and technology. The Taliban are retaking Afghanistan. There is a civil war in Iraq. Lebanon is on the brink of civil war. Saudi Arabia supports the Sunnis in Iraq; Iran supports the Shiites; and Russia supports Iran. Israeli leaders are determined to crush the Palestinians, and they continue to pressure the U.S. to assist them in aggression against Syria and Iran.
Meanwhile, in America, the leaders of both major political parties are clueless about how to stop the bloodshed and prevent a full-blown war that will cascade throughout the region. For our president and Congress, there apparently is no turning back. More troops and more weapons are on the drawing boards for 2007, and our war department and its contractors are slated to get all of the money they request.
The only two things our representatives see in the Middle East are the vast oil reserves to supply our addiction and our commitment to protect Israel — regardless of the cost in human lives and the misery foisted upon the survivors. But can we really blame our government? After all, we back their ignorance and stupidity with our actions — whether we want to acknowledge those actions or not. For example, we need to get beyond the question that is framed for us: Do we want our gasoline coming from the bountiful oil reserves of the Middle East, or would we feel better extracting this toxic fuel by way of oil rigs competing for space off the Oregon Coast?
In 2007, we must focus on ambitious, innovative shifts in our thinking. We can begin by effecting positive changes — and not merely cosmetic ones — within our own communities. There's never a shortage of good ideas, only excuses and a lack of willpower to put them into practice.
Robert Simms, Corvallis
LOSE THE PLASTIC
The after the holiday hangover has made me rethink our need to define the holiday experience, the shopping, the gifts in so much plastic that I fear for my safety as I try to unwrap something the size of my thumb from its square-foot plastic coffin.
We need to return to stores where things are out on open shelves, local stores where we can buy things we can touch and see. Three or four come to mind — all locally owned: Creative Hands at 5th and Willamette, Down to Earth and Ruby Chasm on Olive near 5th, and Uncommon Scents at 18th and Willamette. All offer a shopping experience devoid of plastic and extra foam, and all offer something very intriguing for local shoppers — owners who are local. And there are more, I'm sure!
So let's start redefining sustainable: local, no extra wrapping (plastic), natural materials are better and handmade is better yet. And to this add repairable, life-long, fostering imagination, no joystick, sustainable play and enjoyment. Public transportation and streetscapes, and local repairs and services, local art, and refind/refine our vision. We are an extremely vibrant community wrapped in the dour concrete and asphalt of a gridded city. And we could so easily break out — others have, and we need this so much.
Some see Eugene as '60s, but I see the repressed '50s much more in our downtown. Stop looking to malls and national chains for the answer. It's time for Eugene to "grow up" but not block the sun. Let's learn from others, honor our history, our riverine past, grow gardens on building tops that don't shade their neighbors. Paris does this through stepped floors that rise up and back from the street, Boise closes off streets on the weekends to create their Saturday Market. Who knows where this could lead?
Eugene, Springfield, Glenwood, Santa Clara, the surrounding countryside need a vital, exciting garden city. "It's Eugene, it's a natural!" Let's start planting the seeds for change through a common vision.
Ryan Collay, Eugene
With its delicate filigree of fins missing / And eyes long eaten from the gaping sockets / Remains of the once-glistening Chinook salmon / Lie wasting at the river's rocky edge.
As a phantom metaphor of the Willamette itself / The dull silver carcass washes impudently / Against velvety dark stones / Slick with the wastes of intruding civilization.
The courthouse fights its own descriptor / Being neither courtly nor homey / A monument to newspeak / Like the intention of its monumental architecture / It straddles nature, daring the dwarfed inhabitants / To appeal its echoes of silence and its laws of order.
The ants crawl tentatively over the granite and gravel / Into the sun-washed interior of bony waste.
Stripped of flesh by opportunistic seagulls / And wandering insects / The carcass hints of once-vibrant rainbow hues / Its frame dried against the shape of its stone captors.
The ants proclaim "opening day" / Picking through the cool corridors on spindly legs / Sending murmured signals of satisfaction / And breathing full the aromas of surrounding river rot / Careful not to awaken the great victim.
Steve Smith, Eugene
A NEW SLOGAN
Eugene, playground of the Dead! Eugene: Democracy, Inaction! Eugene: Scenery and Viewpoints. Eugene: 20,000 Ducks Can't Be Wrong!
Darrell Jones, Eugene
The idea of cloned meat going to market seems to be a foregone conclusion. Studies claim that the cloned meat is just the same as the meat we have been getting except that it is cloned.
Has anyone considered that clones age more rapidly than normal animals? And, if so, then what would be the impact of cloned, rapidly aging meat on the human body?
Christine Gherardi, Springfield
NOT A PEEP
Let's visualize the following hypothetical situation: A white former university professor calls for the extermination of the black (or Hispanic, Jewish, etc.) race. A leader of the National Organization for European-American Rights publicly defends him. They are featured on Fox News with their proclamations.
The U.S. media would unleash an assault against these two individuals the likes of which the country has never seen — and rightly so. It would be front page news across the nation. I'm certain that EW would participate in the blitz, and would hope it would.
Now let's examine a couple very real events that happened last month: Black former university professor Kamou Kambon called for the extermination of the white race. A leader of the New Black Panther organization publicly defended him. They were on Fox News with their proclamations.
And there was not a peep from any other media that I saw or heard. All I can ask is, WHY?
Happy New Year.
EDITOR'S NOTE: We're not regular watchers of Fox News, but we found the quote from Brit Hume's Grapevine program Oct. 14. Kambon said at Howard University: "How are we going to exterminate white people, because that, in my estimation, is the only conclusion I have come to. We have to exterminate white people off the face of the planet to solve this problem. … I'm saying to you that we need to solve this problem, because they are going to kill us." It seems Fox News did not include any of the strong responses challenging Kambon following his remarks.