Eugene Weekly : Letters : 11.29.07

¡ASK A MEXICAN! Letters

AN INFORMED CHOICE

This isn’t about whether or not the EW has the right to run “¡Ask a Mexican!,” the column by Gustavo Arellano. You have that right. You also have the right to discontinue it. It’s a choice among the many choices that your publication makes all the time. So I’m just asking you to make an informed choice, based on knowing that many readers, including me, and many members of our community are truly offended by it.

Yes, I know it’s supposed to be funny, and maybe it’s even trying to make fun of stereotypes. It doesn’t work, not here anyhow. In fact, it reinforces some really ugly images of Mexicans. That’s serious at a time when Latino immigrants are already scapegoats for all the ills of society. That’s serious when we live in a community that remains divided along lines of race, class and national origin. That’s serious when many of us in the majority culture don’t know any Latinos as neighbors, co-workers or friends, and so don’t have the connection with individuals that can counteract the stereotypes.

We can be open, though, and listen when Latino members of our community tell us that this column really hurts. This column really makes them feel unwelcome and unsafe. I know that the EW is receiving this message. I hope that the EW chooses to listen and to discontinue the “¡Ask a Mexican!” column. As an alternative, perhaps the EW could even offer members of the Latino community and other marginalized groups a chance to provide a column for the paper.

Marion Malcolm, Eugene

 

FART JOKES NEXT?

I am deeply saddened by the appearance in the EW of a column written by Mr. Gustavo Arellano. Such negative stereotyping of friends and neighbors, here and to the south, is more than disrespectful. His column is an example of lingering U.S. arrogance, usually expressed by a certain minority class in los Estados Unidos, and contributes no solution toward the immigration issue.

If Mr. Arellano wishes to publicly announce his racist views, why not allow him a letter to the editor? And will the “sophisticated” Mr. Gustavo Arellano subject EW readers to more cultural discussions about bodily functions of elimination and start including juvenile fart jokes?

Public displays containing this level of lack of respect usually serve two purposes — to elevate one’s own self esteem by degrading others and to keep racist views alive. By the way, no human being is illegal.

U.S. has a long history of arrogance, fed by acts of aggression and oppression. The greater the success in oppressing, the greater the wealth, power and feelings of superiority for the oppressor.

Let us continue to break this cycle of arrogance that leads to hate and wars and which keeps us from breaking free of the trilogy that Dr. King asked us to overcome — poverty, racism and militarism.

I encourage all to dig deeper into the reasons why the U.S. has not been able to rid itself of poverty, racism and militarism. How and why are certain people kept down and continually oppressed? Who benefits?

Elaine Hayes, Springfield

 

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY

A couple weeks ago it made my day- no, my week when I found “!Ask A Mexican!” in the Weekly. No more reading Arellano on-line. The Weekly has beaten the rest in Oregon (and the Northwest?) to one of the most relevant educational opportunities in the U.S. today, served in a side-splittingly funny format.

Please, as Gustavo says, allow the whiners a chance to catch on — hopefully they will. I began my education in Hispanic culture in the ’70s when I was getting an education degree (secondary, social science). Another student teacher I became friends with happened to be a Tejano who had moved to Portland for his high school career. He was one of the first “Mexicans” to graduate from high school in Portland. He interested me in his culture and drew my attention to the dichotomy between what I had been taught and other versions of history.

After that I lived and traveled in Latin America and learned Spanish and have since grabbed any opportunity to learn more about the rest of the Americas. With this background, I assure you all that Gustavo knows his stuff and informs us in what I think is an eminently powerful way.

He’s equal opportunity; he pokes at the various Hispanic stereotypes too. I feel strongly it is important that we head off racism and other cultural misunderstandings that are building now (as Anglos are becoming a minority in California). Otherwise, our society will be ripped apart as the stresses build in our American empire. Just griping about ethnocentrism doesn’t do much. Humor is more powerful.

Que vive the Mexican! Please keep Gustavo’s column.

PS: If you want a very positive look at what is possible, you should have been at the McDonald for Ozomatli on Monday the 19th for a multilingual party of true hybrid vigor. (Don’t worry, I think they’ll be back.)

Rick Valley, Dexter

 

NOT EVEN FUNNY

I and other non-Mexican Latinos have a request. Please stop printing the “¡Ask a Mexican!” column. It is racist and full of faux humor. The redneck creators of this blatantly anti-non-Mexican column want us to believe they are looking out for Latinos and are fighting against those who abuse and exploit us. Seems as though the editors at EW fell for that propaganda. Anyone can read the column and see that the writer doesn’t even like non-Mexican Latinos. I thought EW would have chosen to read every word of the column before publishing it in the paper, but I guess their guilt-ridden liberalism got in the way.

Are you people closeted racists? I imagine you wouldn’t print columns written by David Duke or the KKK? How about reading the last two “¡Ask a Mexican!” columns that you printed and you’ll see.

A message to these racists: Most Native Americans consider Mexicans to be the original illegal aliens, NOT the original immigrants to this continent. Before EW decides to print any new column(s), you might what to consult with various minority groups for advice, ’cause you country white folks aren’t so street wise.

Juana Garcia, Eugene

 

TACKY PIECE OF UGLINESS

I read the first lines of “¡Ask a Mexican!” and felt tired. I shoved my EW to the side. A lot of space to dedicate for a cheap laugh at the expense of people whose work will now be a bit harder, a few more bad days for our kids, another irritant to be endured. For me, picking up the EW that Thursday morning meant one more comfortable ritual lost; another harsh reminder that in the eyes of yet another local group, I still don’t belong. I heaved a sigh. I could hear all the smug comments — I don’t have a sense of humor; I should lighten up.

Thanks to the mothers of the Latino community, I am energized to weigh in. If you truly want to “Ask a Mexican,” you don’t have to ask someone living in Orange County who doesn’t care a dot for Eugene, just making a buck. If you truly want to ask questions — about inclusion, justice, safe schools, vigorous new businesses, celebrations, events, forums, professionals, LCC, UO, community vision, design, art, immigrant rights, about style, history, ideas, about love, poetry, music, even something that makes you laugh, I’ve got names of movers and shakers, a full range of Latino neighbors who work hard to help make Eugene/Springfield a beloved community. I’d be happy to “namedrop with a purpose” and send you the list.

Let me read something that expands my mind, my heart and my life rather than have to endure one more tacky piece of ugliness. Give me back my EW ritual!!

Misa Joo, Eugene

 

FANNING HOSTILITY

The Weekly‘s new column, “¡Ask a Mexican!” is truly offensive and inappropriate, whatever its intent. It is likely to reinforce negative and often racist stereotypes about people of Mexican ancestry and Latinos in general, whether they be immigrants or have lived for generations in the U.S. Anti-immigrant hostility is rampant and rising, fanned by politicians for their own partisan purposes and exploited by right-wing, white-supremacist groups seeking supporters.

Our local community would be much better served if the Weekly were to devote its energy to comprehensive and accurate reporting on this area’s highly diverse Latino population, its many economic and cultural contributions and the threats to safety and dignity that its members face in the current irrational political climate.

Ken Neubeck, Executive Director, Amigos Multicultural Services Center

 

PAYBACK TIME?

At this moment in time when many forms of attacks on Latino people have become acceptable and are increasing exponentially, the Eugene Weekly runs the “¡Ask a Mexican!” column? What on earth are you thinking? The “payback” against Latino people for raising their voices in May 2006 is full on. Read your U.S. history about other times when certain immigrant and ethnic groups were under attack. Understand the moment you are living in.

Would you have run a smarty-pants column about African-Americans during the lynching frenzy of the 1920s? Would you have run a smarty-pants column about Chinese people after the Exclusion Act passed in the 1880s, or one about Japanese people following the “Gentleman’s Agreement” of 1908 barring Japanese immigration?

Time to put your thinking cap on, EW.

Roscoe Caron, Eugene

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

ROADSIDE SPRAYING AGAIN?

On Dec. 5 the Department of Public Works will go before the Board of County Commissioners to seek approval of its 2008 roadside management plan. This plan includes some use of herbicides in areas not yet revealed. Why is anyone still using herbicides or any synthetic chemical?

Imagine it’s 1947 and we’re being asked to consider a new tool for controlling vegetation; it’s called herbicide. Companies that had produced chemical weapons for World War II were looking for new markets. These chemicals were comprised of molecules that were never combined in the natural world. In other words synthetic. Of all the molecules that nature combines to make everything, nature did not combine these; and guess what, they’re toxic. These toxic substances will become pervasive in our environment. They are designed to apply to plants but will travel through our soils and into our water. They will end up in the bodies of animals. We humans will have multiple synthetic chemicals in our bodies. They will be in our blood and stored in our fat (see National Geographic, October 2006).

Many people will suffer acute and chronic disabilities, disease and early death. These long-term consequences will not be studied for decades. These are substances that our ancestors did not have in their bodies and, of course, were not part of the evolution of life.

The question is why are we still doing this? Why don’t we stop?

Jan Nelson, Eugene

 

OUT OF CONTEXT

Dear Erin Rokita (cover story 11/21): Here’s an advice for you: Write your articles shortly after the interviews you conduct, so you’ll reduce the chances of misquoting people. It would also be a good idea to have your articles proofread by an unbiased third party.

In the article “Timberrrr!,” you quote me saying that “in an urban setting trees need to be removed because they represent a risk.” Do you realize what you wrote? Do you think that for one minute, Eugene Tree Foundation — which you barely mentioned — would have me as their president if I had such a view on trees?

Might as well quote me saying: “Let’s remove all the trees in Eugene so there will be no risks!” And thank you for mentioning that arborists are also “paid to cut them down.” That’s a perfect touch to your one-sided story.

Certified arborists also plant, consult and educate people on the beauty and value of their trees. In my book, if an arborist does not have respect and love for trees, he or she should switch to something else and leave the trees alone; unfortunately, some are still around.

The company I work for has also donated a full day of work with five arborists to maintain and recable the gorgeous Owen cherry some years ago. But it seems that we are never or barely acknowledged for such behavior! It’s much juicier to feed on the dramatic part of the equation: the removal of trees.

Just as much as most Eugeneans, I don’t like when a tree is removed, but I agree with Mark Snyder; I couldn’t live with myself if someone was killed by a hazardous tree that was under my care. My expertise is also sought by citizens when a tree is believed to be dangerous and they need a professional opinion. In that case, I am the one that will help them making the decision and, ironically, most of them will feel relieved because they share the guilt of killing a tree. I have been known to turn down calls for removals because the reasons were pure human convenience and not hazard related.

Now, for the benefit and credit of Eugene Tree Foundation: We also plant trees and since 1998, have put in the ground more than 1,500 all over town — with just volunteers!

Here is a call for whoever was angry at “the city” after reading “Timberrrr!” last week: Our planting season starts soon and we always need help! Come and plant trees with us: It’s fun and rewarding, it lifts the mind and it puts things in perspective. It’s good for you too, Erin!

Alby Thoumsin, Certified arborist & president, Eugene Tree Foundation

 

STREETS VS. AVENUES

There’s a simple explanation for Mr. Glenn Leonard’s first two questions in his “Howcum” letter in your Nov. 15 issue. Before Eugene adopted its present roadway grid system of named streets running north/south and numbered avenues going east/west, there were just streets and roads.

Hence the original 5th Street Market, which antedates the current grid system, is located on today’s 5th Avenue.

John E. Heintz, Eugene

 

THE ORPHANS I SEEK

As the weather gets wet, I move my shopping habit from free boxes to thrift stores for dry goods. I come to the counter with an odd unmarked assortment of things that were once part of a whole. I love to dig at the bottoms of bins for broken toys, strange plastic food and tiny animals to use in art. This time of year I can count on finding every type of icon in miniature in the Christmas ornament department: transportation, sports, tools, angels, kitchen appliances. Fallen haloes, armless people and train cars without an engine are the orphans I seek; I crave the unwanted junk. But this year I browsed store after store only to find everything organized, bagged and tagged. No bins with phony fries or single doll shoes covered in dust at the bottom; what’s wrong? Where are my Charlie Brown toys?

Finally I found my way to the St. Vinnie’s on Broadway. I delved into the bins, grateful for the broken glass ornaments that told me the junk was still junk. I filled my basket with toy soldiers, fake carrots, a string of plastic lifesavers and birds, and found a couple of teeny trains. M.E.C.C.A on the other end of Broadway yielded toy balloons, plastic diaper pins and all the usual magic. Total bliss.

I’m happy the re-use places in town are doing so well and doing so much good, but please leave some real junk for people like me. Digging is part of what makes junking fun!

And love and thanks to the folks in town with generous free boxes. You make bike riding for transportation fun, and I save money on clothing and art supplies while saving gas.

Ruby “the Resourceress” Colette, Eugene

 

HIS SWORN DUTY

In his letter, “Do Your Job, Watada” (11/8), L. Paul Meier exposes himself as seriously under-informed. Lt. Watada is performing exactly his only sworn duty — to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Meier asks, why did he join the Army? Watada joined following 9/11 as did many young citizens in a spirit of patriotism. Having completed a tour of duty in Korea and learning that he would next be deployed to Iraq, he reasoned as an officer responsible for others’ lives that he should learn more about this war.

From James Bamford’s Pretext for War and other sources, Watada learned that the war was not only fraudulently justified but was clearly illegal under our international treaty commitments, including the U.N. and Nuremberg charters, which prohibit aggressive or pre-emptive war. Since our treaty obligations are defined in Article VI of the Constitution as the “supreme law of the land,” he recognized that the war violates our Constitution as well.

The Nuremberg Tribunal, in fact, described aggressive war as the “supreme international crime.” Watada saw that his participation would be a war crime, and the order to deploy to Iraq in a combat unit was therefore an illegal order he was duty-bound to refuse under the Nuremberg principle within the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

In its court-martial proceedings, the government performed desperate handsprings to keep these facts out of evidence, first denying Watada all his distinguished expert witnesses on the war’s illegality and his duty to refuse, then manipulating the proceedings into a mistrial to avoid even Watada’s own testimony.

The Army is now attempting to re-try him while the defense asserts that this is impermissible under the double jeopardy clause of the 5th Amendment. A preliminary injunction halting the retrial was recently issued by a U.S. District Court with statements that the trial judge had abused his discretion and that Watada “is likely to succeed on the merits.”

As Lt. Watada has said, illegal wars will end when soldiers refuse to fight them. We might also consider prosecuting the leaders who wage them.

Jack Dresser, Springfield

 

GREEN DEVELOPMENT

Greetings! As an Earth dweller, I am angered to hear that the Galapagos preserve is being ravaged by whale hunters, that Japanese whalers are rabidly killing whale after whale in the Antarctic seas, that Chinese shark-fin hunters killed more than 20 million sharks last year. Obviously, Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd need more contributions, more ships patrolling and intervening, stopping the slaughter.

Locally, The Register-Guard‘s reporting on the Mayors’ Climate Change conference meeting in Seattle last week left out the fact that our mayor, Kitty Piercy, attended the conference and that our city council has adopted every single conference recommendation, including the Green Development recommendations that have become reality in many U.S. cities.

The resulting downtown economic booms these cities are experiencing present another strong argument for green urban renewal. Eugene will benefit from its green urban renewal.

Also, Kemper of KGW stated last week that he thinks he may just build four stories of condos across from our library, blocking the library’s grand windows as well as ignoring the council’s recommendation and citizen desires for a park across from our library. Let us re-educate Mr. Kemper.

Honey in our hearts, fire in our spirits!

Charles F. Thielman, Eugene

 

PASSING JUDGEMENT

Homeless folks, drug dealers or “punk teenagers” — how many labels could you fit into a sentence or even an article? How much more of a cop-out do we need then these previous accusations?

We start to forget that these “punk teenagers” are children who need us. They fall under our labels to survive, and they stay there because there is no helping hand. These children only want to be given the choices and opportunities of any other teen. Our picture-perfect society doesn’t like the ideal of homeless youth, as if they shouldn’t exist.

People don’t want to acknowledge that there are simply not enough resources for the majority of homeless youth to survive. It’s easy to look at a middle-aged man who is homeless and pass judgment, but how can you pass judgment on a homeless youth who has no family, no opportunity and in most cases can’t legally work? We expect them to go to school and do their homework, but they aren’t worried about getting to math class on time. The homeless youth in our community are more concerned with surviving day to day.

As a 16-year-old, I am working on a documentary with CEY (Communities Empowering Youth) and Looking Glass. I am outraged that people in Eugene are so insensitive to the less fortunate. We shouldn’t be viewing our homeless youth as a disease infecting our city but as human beings who deserve a roof over their heads and warm food every night. If we insure that these basic human needs are met for all Eugeneans, especially our children, I predict the issue of streets cluttered with “punk teenagers” will disappear with a little time and some much needed support.

Skye Rios, Eugene

 

NO BLIND FOLLOWER

In response to the letter questioning Lt. Ehren Watada’s integrity and motivation for refusing to serve in Iraq “Do Your Job, Watada” (11/8), I would like to illuminate certain essential facts with regards to the actions taken by Watada.

Watada joined the military because the administration asked for citizens to become professional soldiers to help in the fight against terrorism and because he wished to defend the U.S. Constitution. He went to basic training in June 2003, after Iraq was attacked by the U.S.

Officers do not swear to blindly follow the leader, but instead swear to defend and uphold the Constitution. It is now clearly established that the Bush administration lied to Congress and the American people about the reasons for invading Iraq, thereby violating the U.S. Constitution and international law.

The Nuremburg Tribunals established the principle that an officer cannot use the defense that “I was only following orders.” The Uniform Code of Military Justice clearly places a burden on an officer to disobey an unlawful order. Watada now believes strongly that the Iraq War is illegal and unconstitutional and that he was upholding the U.S. constitution when he refused to deploy to Iraq.

For taking take this courageous action, Watada should be thanked and appreciated. Instead he faces court martial and up to six years imprisonment for refusing to deploy and for speaking out against the Iraq Wwar.

Join with me in supporting and thanking Lt. Watada, a true American hero, by signing a support petition at on the Thank You Lt. Ehren Watada web site at www.thankyoult.org

Michael Carrigan, Eugene

 

TRIBUTE TO THE ’60S

In response to the review of Across the Universe (10/18): The reviewer states that the film’s problem is that it has no serious point to make, but also states that as it progresses it becomes “more overtly political.” Which is it?

As someone who came into the world during the 1960s, I felt that the director did a masterful and artful job of recapturing the sights and sounds of my earliest years. I saw the film as the director’s “love letter” to that unique time in our history. To want a historical account or portrayal of the people, and the social and political events of the decade, is to want a different kind of filmmaking. The point of the film, for me, was to recreate and express the visual and aural elements and impressions of that time, and fuse them against the backdrop of political and social turmoil that was also occurring. I think that was accomplished very creatively and movingly and was very stunning. Additionally, hearing those wonderful Beatles songs with a “fresh coat of paint,” so to speak, was very enjoyable. I heard the soundtrack as a tribute to those songs and I felt that the arrangements were touching and well done.

I think it’s OK to view this film as art without needing it to be “important” or “historical.” I wouldn’t want readers to miss such a beautiful piece of work based on the reviewer’s lack of enthusiasm.

Kelly Shiver, Springfield

 

HOPE TO NEW ARTISTS

A negative critique may cause a budding artist to throw their creations into the trash. That’s where the Springfield Mayor’s Show at Emerald Art Gallery becomes a haven for new artists. They see their work displayed for the first time.

After teaching art for numerous years, I know how discouraged many talented novices feel. The nonjuried Springfield Mayor’s Show embraces professional as well as new artists. Their philosophy is keep art alive — encourage new artists to continue pursuing their dreams. Chuck — it’s time you put on your thinking cap before you criticize a worthy cause.

Ellen Gabehart, Springfield

 

HELP FROM OUR FRIENDS

This is an open letter of gratitude to everyone who participated in the cancer benefit for Gary Pyne on Sunday, Nov. 4, at Spirits in Springfield. In particular we would like to thank all the local Eugene musicians who responded to Nicolette Helms’ request for help. You all know who you are — but point is, we don’t. None of you knew Gary, but you came out for a rockin’ good blues jam to benefit him anyway.

Thank you from the bottom of our aging hippie hearts. You can’t know what it meant to us, a revival of a sense of community and harmony that we thought was long dead and gone. It seems the spirit is still alive after all. Thank you all again so very much. Love and peace to all!

Gary and Lin Pyne, Springfield

 

SPOILED BRATS

Once again the children/anarchists are making fools of themselves. Recently they were up in Tacoma, Wash., protesting the detention of illegal aliens. I call them children because they react to things that happen rather than taking a little time, using their intelligence and then acting. I call them children because they’ve just gotten out of their diapers and still haven’t learned how to walk, never mind running around protesting with masks on their faces. Are they chickenshit, too? Take off those masks, kids, Halloween is over!

I had the unfortunate pleasure of becoming acquainted with several “anarchists” back in 2001 when I was a naïve freshman at the UO. Looking back, I just see most of them as spoiled, bitter, guilt-ridden children of rich parents. They hate everything about their parents, yet they have the audacity to say that detaining illegal aliens breaks up families. What hypocrisy! What about Mexico’s detention of illegal aliens? It’s a felony there.

Since these anarchists failed in their attempt to change the U.S.’s forest policy with treesitting and bombings, they needed to find another cause non-celebre, that being the “illegal” immigration issue. I for one feel that if you can get away undetected while in this country, good for you; if you get caught, well, too bad; you knew what you were doing, took the risk and lost.

So what’s a few million illegals in this country anyway? Greedy companies can squeeze the life out of them and not have to pay taxes to boot! All countries need to agree to dissolve all borders. Until that happens we are stuck with borders of all types.

One last piece of advice to the anarchists: Take a bath! If you don’t care about your own personal hygiene, then how can you care about other people’s problems? Also, there are some of us who would like to get close enough to talk to you.

Melinda Teurgeson, Eugene

 

THE BIG QUESTION

Well, finally, Scott McClellan has decided to tell America what most of us knew all along, that yes, after all, Rove, Libby, Cheney, and Bush DID have something to do with the outing of former CIA agent Valerie Plame. That they were, in fact, the source of that leak. And just in time to promote his new book on the subject. How very convenient. The one question, however, that remains unasked, unaddressed and unanswered is: Why aren’t these men being tried for treason? Isn’t it a treasonable offense to jeopardize American security by revealing the identity of an active undercover CIA agent? Especially in a time of “war”?

Where is our great concern for National Security? Where are the defenders of liberty who willingly approve additional funding so that more Americans and Iraqis can die in our battle for freedom? Is this not the time for them to step forward and see justice done? If it is not, what then is the meaning of justice, and what, exactly, are we fighting for?

Henry Snow, Eugene

 

HOW LIFE COULD BE

Look up and you’ll notice the puffy clouds and baby blue sky painted on the entire ceiling of Cappella Market down on Willamette. As I was leaving the store today, I looked back at the ceiling, and I saw something right out of my childhood: a dreamy image of how things were supposed to be, at least from the viewpoint of a 4-year-old. One of the employees pointed out the hint of a sunrise, a pink glow among the clouds, on the curved ceiling above the meat market.

It would be nice if all the world were like that, puffy white clouds in a blue sky, the sun about to rise into a glorious day. For some of us, the world indeed must seem that way. Unfortunately, it’s hard not to notice all the homeless people wandering around town, who experience life as not-so-good.

Silly me. I thought that I could avoid the homeless, with their beat-up cardboard signs asking for donations, by locating in south Eugene off West Amazon Drive. How wrong I was. I soon found out that a migration route extends down to this area as well, apparently all the way from the Eugene Mission and the “hobo hotels” among the twisted trails along the south side of Skinner Butte.

The manager of our apartment complex informed me that a homeless person had been sleeping in the Eugene Mission’s red newspaper and magazine collection box at the edge of our property. With a sturdy lid that protects against the rain, one of the big recycling boxes seems to be a great place to snooze when you don’t have a place to live. Another kind of “hobo hotel.”

There’s a lovely park on Hilyard near where I live. Unfortunately, it’s a place where I wouldn’t want kids playing, especially at night. It’s not well lit in places, and it has become a nesting ground for homeless people and underage kids who want to get plastered on alcohol.

It is unfortunate that our country seems to value oil company profits and corporate empire over the welfare of its own citizens. It’s shameful, really, that anyone ends up homeless or has to steal or scrounge through Dumpsters or sell drugs to survive. A number of countries, like Denmark and Germany, provide substantial support to the unemployed and needy.

You know what I’ll be looking at the next time I shop at Cappella Market. Drop on by and look up at the expanse of clouds and blue sky painted on the ceiling of their store on south Willamette. It’s inspiring, a peaceful vision and a hint of how life could be for all of us.

Chris Pawling, Eugene