ON EDWARD SAID

"Earth, receive an honored guest," Auden once wrote of Yeats. Last week, the world laid Edward Said to rest. Said, who was born in Jerusalem and taught literature at Columbia University for four decades, died after a long battle with leukemia.

Progressive communities in Eugene and elsewhere owe a lasting debt to this man. First, in his book Orientalism, he developed a systematic critique of traditional Western knowledge and views about Asian societies. He showed that European scholars and officials presented the East (be it China, India, or the Arab world) as passive, exotic, and inferior. This Orientalist view enabled Western powers to justify the subjugation and colonization of the Orient. His scholarship unveiled the academic imperialism at our universities, which have not been the same since.

Said was also the most eloquent American spokesman for Palestinian statehood. When he began to lecture and write on behalf of the cause, many educated people denied that Palestinians even existed. He told the history and voiced the aspirations of the Palestinian people, whom he called "victims of the victims." No one, he believed, should be discriminated against based on his or her religion. Today, even George W. Bush recognizes the Palestinian right to self-determination.

Finally, he was an independent and a humanist. He advocated writing in alternative media. An outstanding musician, he taught music to a group of Israeli and Arab children with conductor Daniel Barenboim. He believed that no human being should be stripped of their land, national identity or culture, no matter what the cause. By the same token, he quoted Theodor Adorno's dictum that "it is part of morality not to be at home in one's home." I think many Eugene citizens share that feeling about our country.

These are sad times. The war on Iraq, racial profiling of Middle Eastern students, and escalating hate-crimes against Muslims in America, are partly the result of Orientalists who spout racist "us against them" diatribes in government and the media. That some Oregonians receive a more tolerant view in their local paper, would have pleased him dearly.

Philip Huang Eugene

 

DUCKING THE TRUTH

Alan Pittman's article "Conspiracy Theories" (9/11) was interesting, even if it did trail off into an incoherent conclusion. In his drive to be "objective," Mr. Pittman sums up his piece on the most explosive political issue of our time by posing lamely, "Forty years from now, will 9/11 questions have finally been put to rest?". Wow, think about it.

Good journalism does more than simply list arguments and counter-arguments. I found it striking how critics of 9/11 conspiracy theories — at least according to Pittman's reporting — simply denied the issue rather than engaging any of its substance. The entire counter-argument, it seems, is based on the authority of those making it. If Norman Solomon says there's nothing to it, well then there must not be anything to it — inconvenient facts be damned. Didn't the Pentagon call it "stupid"? Case closed.

It is Pittman's choice not to examine this peculiarity of the debate that dooms his article to end in a shambles of pronouncements over the general nature of conspiracy theories. Newsflash: There's absolutely no doubt that the events of 9/11 resulted of a conspiracy. The questions relate to who was involved, and to what extent. Nineteen men didn't spontaneously find themselves hijacking four jetliners on the same morning. They, and others, conspired. While Pittman raises the issue of American involvement, he for some reason fails to actually engage it.

Pittman's pale didactic summation does nothing more than inform readers of the obvious. Of course some conspiracies are real and some are not. The question is not about the nature of conspiracy theories, but about whether the leadership of this country is in fact its greatest enemy. We should not get distracted by knowledge that elements of our own government are either orchestrating or allowing domestic terrorism?

It's quite telling that EW devotes more resources every single week to Ducks Illustrated than it did to exploring the staggering possibility that the current administration is actually orchestrating mass murder and civil disaster to solidify its grasp on power.

Tim Shaw Eugene

 

WHY BUILD IT?

Regarding the federal building ramp controversy. I hope that the feds build the access ramp, but cancel the rest of the building. I don't see a need for this Homeland Security complex. The existing federal courthouse is adequate to prosecute federal violations, especially if we restore our Bill of Rights by repealing the so-called PATRIOT Act.

A second topic: the "anyone but Bush" mantra. While I support immediate impeachment of the entire Bush regime, the real issue is ending imperial policies, not merely replacing the figureheads in the White House. Dean supports Bush's obscene military spending increases. In contrast, Kucinich wants to cut the bloated military budget to fund human needs. Kucinich is the only candidate talking about the Pentagon's missing trillion dollars, something that Coward Dean does not discuss. Dean merely has tactical differences with Bush regarding the conduct of the US empire. See www.kucinichdeancompare.comfor the details.

Any Democratic candidate can only beat Bush if the phony electronic "touch screen" voting machines being installed from coast to coast are withdrawn and actual ballots (counted by hand) are used in 2004. Otherwise, there will be a repeat of the 2002 Georgia election, where the conservative Democrat governor and senator, both expected to win (according to the polls) suddenly had a massive drop in their support on election day.

There is no way to verify the results of an election using touch screen ballots — and it is not a coincidence that these disputes all favor Republicans, since Republicans make these machines. Kucinich is the only Democratic presidential candidate to express concern about this new form of vote fraud.

Mark Robinowitz Eugene

 

LETTER FROM A POODLE

I loved the letter of Mitzi Linn (9/25) chastising EW for having an Oregon football insert, blaming football for contemporary international problems. First, she probably writes using a pen name (I do not find her in the telephone book), because only miniature poodles are called Mitzi.

Mitzi, I am sorry your undies are in a knot over sports. Having served on the UO Alumni Association Board, I know well the benefit to student and academic programs of the UO sports programs. Simply put, Mitzi: Joey Harrington and Luke Ridnour translate into thousands of dollars in donations to student and academic programs, at a time of legislative non-support.

I am pleased that no football fan wrote EW protesting EW's appropriate expansive coverage of the Oregon Country Fair.

Relax, sweetie.

David Jensen Eugene/Vida


EDITOR'S NOTE: For the record, Mitzi is a real person (one of several upstanding local citizens with that name); in addition, we know of at least one ankle-biter poodle named Dave.

 

CRYING FOWL

There are few certainties in life. We know the standard, death and taxes, are things upon which we can rely. But there is another, that I have found, a guarantee if you will. As soon as I had the pleasure of seeing the Oregon Ducks insert in EW, I knew, for a fact, that there would be people crying fowl (I could not resist the pun, forgive me) in you're Letters section. Sure enough, Mitzi Linn (9/25) has the honor of being this week's crybaby. I can't help but laugh when I see such foolishness.

This person has the gall to equate football with our enemies' perception of us. This "football drug fix" she speaks of, brings in gobs of money to the university. This money helps fund the arts and academics that the UO is known for. These new multi-million dollar buildings that are springing up around campus, just where does she think the funding is coming from? Seems to me the only "drug" she needs to worry about is the one that is obviously distorting her perception of reality. Do us a favor Miss Linn, keep slapping those "Free Tibet" stickers on your bumper, at least you can make believe your making a difference. Or, here is a novel idea, get off your butt, and champion a real cause!

Mark Zacchino Eugene

 

STICK TO THE PLAN

The Healthy Forest Restoration Act is an attempt by the Bush administration to roll back the environmental protections of the Northwest Forest Plan and the continued logging of old-growth forests on public land.

The Northwest Forest Plan protects water quality, salmon habitat, rare and endangered species associated with ancient forests. The national forests are owned by the public — by you and me — a public who believes that old forests, salmon, wildlife and our water need protection.

As the agencies managing public land, the Forest Service and the BLM actions should reflect public opinion. So I urge everybody to stop this proposal and defend the Northwest's heritage by speaking out loud!

Sylvia Bigontina Eugene

 

COLD COMFORT

I'll vote for Kucinich in the primary and general elections, even if I have to write his name in. He seems to be the only one that represents new ideas. Yes, this is a critical time, not a time for business as usual. Dean seems rather like another Gore, and I see nothing outstanding about the rest. They're all looking to gain the advantage of more money. Everyone on the left seems to be saying Kucinich is good, yet, being short on money, has zero chance of winning. If this is so, what's the point of paying any attention to elections? Maybe it's time to make more aggressive responses to corruption. But here's another low probability.

The chances of my one vote actually affecting a presidential election are insignificant (though not zero), especially with the electoral college and other corruptions, as was certainly true when I voted for Nader the last two times. But the votes are reported, at least for significant candidates. Minority votes still send a message of who and what we really want, which may someday affect what candidates the Demolicans support.

If the Republicans dare to support Bush again, and by chance and corruption he stays in, I feel his excesses may wake us up to the corruption of capitalism, consumerism and corporatism and help to put an end to them, hopefully before they completely destroy the earth's ecosystems.

Anyway, maybe hell has freezers, and even a snowball does have a chance.

Dan Robinson Eugene

 

ARBITRARY JUSTICE

The loss of ethics in our judicial system should be noted. Due process in our civil courts is long gone for the working classes. Common interest groups like insurance companies and large business have removed your civil rights to sue under the due process of law, by convincing lawmakers that arbitration is the way to settle the working class claims against consumer fraud, auto accidents and civil liability claims. The arbitrator is a person selected to judge a dispute as in collective bargaining negotiations. Arbitration is based on one's preference, notion or whim and not by due process of law.

This is a dictatorial system set up by large business and insurance companies where conflict of interest laws do not apply; in fact, where no laws apply and judgment is done on the preference of those chosen to arbitrate. The arbitrating law firms have interest in these companies and volunteer their time and their insurance lawyers to be on the arbitrator list that is used to select a referee or umpire for settlement. They do not have to follow the laws set out by our courts and are only required to use their own preference to make judgment on the working classes. These arbitrators have and continue to act in favor of large companies, ignoring the laws set out by the state and federal government to favor their own common interest.

You have no civil right to sue in a fair and balanced court system anymore because it was taken away from the working class long ago by large companies and insurance
giants.

Patrick Norton Florence

 

TWO WRONGS, NO RIGHT

I'd like to add further contemplation to the letter of Jeffrey Stout (9/18) regarding field burning. It appears to me that he's willing to accept field burning as harmless in light of the fact that Americans are emitting more harmful pollutants via the automobile. Do we have to accept more pollution because we are already encumbered with auto exhaust? Why can't we address both issues as something requiring change?

Admittedly, the car is deeply ingrained in our lifestyles, but by raising public awareness and working towards alternative fuels, we can hopefully reduce these emissions over time.

I'd also like to challenge Jeffrey's view of field burning as benign. He states that "farmers produce something through their field burning." I'm curious if he realizes that grass seed is distributed via trucks and planes, or that grass is usually mowed by lawn mowers (which are not clean burning engines). There is also the fact that the grass fields as well as their product (lawns) are often sprayed with commercial fertilizers and herbicides which usually contain lead and mercury as well as other harmful chemicals.

I was curious about the airborne particulates from fields that are sprayed with these products and then burned. LRAPA said that we no longer tested the air for lead and never have for mercury. To add insult to injury, a majority of these "farms" are owned by multinational Dutch companies. My European friends tell me that Europe doesn't allow field burning. Welcome to the third world, Oregon!

Sondra Arrache Eugene

 

POVERTY IS WEALTH

On Sept 27, The Register-Guard reported that the number of people living in poverty in the U.S. has increased by 1.7 million.

Earlier, when the liberal media reported the dropping value of the dollar, it was necessary for the White House to clarify that this is a good thing because it reduces the cost of U.S. goods for our remaining international customers. Now the liberal media will be using the increase in poverty to claim mismanagement of the economy. It is therefore crucial to explain why the increase in poverty is, in fact, also a good thing.

First, the poor pay little or no income taxes. As our president has patiently explained, reducing federal tax revenues is always good, regardless of current economic conditions.

Second, poverty is good for industry. Ask any CEO what the greatest cost to his business is and he will tell you: workers‚ salaries and benefits. The poor and unemployed are willing to work for less, which reduces costs and in turn increases corporate profits.

Third, the poor are far more willing to work in unpleasant or hazardous conditions, and having someone working these jobs is essential for the comfortable lifestyles of the rest of us. Also, having a large of pool of desperate Americans decreases the need to hire immigrant labor, which in turn reduces the desire of foreigners to sneak into our
country.

Fourth, the poor spend almost all their income in day-to-day expenses. That is, the poor channel their modest incomes back into the local economy and credit firms. While the wealthy obviously spend more money, much of their income is locked up in savings. When adjusted for their net worth, the poor
contribute proportionally more to the economy.

In short, the growing poverty in our country is another sign that our president is doing a fine job with the economy. To claim otherwise is unpatriotic.

Eric Pederson Eugene

 

BUSHWHACKED BUILDING?

Rumor has it that the Eugene federal building was secretly delayed to help pay for Bush's warmongering. The Bush administration is hiding the diversion of money from Oregon to Iraq by blaming Eugene for not supporting the project.

Other nonessential pork-barrel projects have been delayed. For example, it was publicly announced that money designated after 9/11 for airport security research would be cut to reduce Bush's record budget deficit. In effect, Bush is diverting research dollars from universities, such as OSU and UO, to pay for war. Bush doesn't want to fund them [sic] intellectual elitist "terrorists" anyway.

Bush, in addition to reducing his deficit, is probably using these delays to extort votes from congressmen such as DeFazio. Our local "fair and balanced" (trademark of Fox News Corporation) media has failed to investigate how Bush's trickery is hurting
Oregon.

Thomas Kraemer Corvallis

 

THE REPUBLICRITES

I recently found out that there is a candidate for office who has a history of smoking pot (and inhaling!), using steroids to enhance his appearance, group sex, groping women, and lying about his past. No, it's not a Kennedy or a Clinton, it's Arnold Schwarzenegger!

Where is the outrage from the right-wing crypto fascists on cable news? How come Ann Coulter hasn't written about this scandal? Why aren't conservative demagogues like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Bill O'Reilly, Neil Cavetto, and Pat Buchanan railing about the "character" issue that was so important during the Clinton scandal? Where is the outrage?

Ooops! I just remembered: "Ah-nuld" is a Republican! Oh, those hypocritical conservatives! They out to rename their party the "Republicrites."

Pete Giberson Eugene

FOR THE KIDS

Ah, Oregon, what a cash-cow rich place it is. The Legislature made national news paying and costing itself all the overtime for its terminal late sessions, which brewed two seizures of non-voluntary funds: the first an outright tax increase and the other a single issue ballot measure to fund a criminal theft of money that is bankrupting the state on a lifetime basis with no termination date. Even with the new bond measure it will continue to force the children who can't vote today to pay for it tomorrow. Oregon has found a way to tax the children of the future.

It is alleged that the bond measure has been voted into law, yet everyone knows that bonds are paid back by taxes and under the tax laws of Oregon there wasn't the necessary number of voters to pass a tax measure on the youth of Oregon.

Then there is the nature of the contestable punch card ballots used in this county which have already been deemed by a federal court as a civil rights violation during the ballot measure vote. Which leads us to the director of our local voting system who has been quoted in print saying that if    `necessary, there were tricks that could be done with the vote to help pass any civil tax increase measure.

There is nothing like employment security with a guaranteed 8 percent a year retirement increase to protect an ongoing crime against the youth of Oregon.

It's "for the kids," don't you know? We love you to death!

Daniel Moore Springfield

 


LETTERS POLICY: We welcome letters on all topics and will print as many as space allows. Please limit length to 250 words, keep submissions to once a month, and include your address and phone number for our files. E-mail to editor@eugeneweekly.com (please put "letters" in the subject line), fax to 484-4044, or mail to 1251 Lincoln, Eugene 97401.


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