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Home arrow Opinion arrow Letters arrow LETTERS TO THE EDITOR FOR FEBRUARY 16 - 28, 2003



Protect ourselves first

To the Editor:

The Observer's editorial of Feb. 13 said something that has long needed to be said.

The fact that many of the countries we liberated in World War II have now turned their back on us is disgusting.

I believe the United States should pull out of NATO, demand all monetary debts be paid and stop all foreign aid.

The money could be better used in the United States for medical research, schools, defense, highways and taking care of our veterans, as a few examples. I believe we should take care of and protect ourselves first and foremost.

As for my thoughts on the bickering and fighting about going to war with Iraq — it must stop.

Like it or not, we must trust our government and our intelligence. Some people say they need more proof and they want more information.

Yes, let's show our enemy everything we know. How long do you think we would be able to gather intelligence once our enemies know how we got it? Get real!

One of the reasons we won World War II is because we had better intelligence and were totally involved in winning that war.

We must be just as totally involved in winning the war against terrorism. The sacrifices made then by the military and those working for the war effort at home gave us the freedoms we so enjoy today.

If it means going to war to protect these freedoms and our way of life, then that is something we must also do.

If polls showed that 100 percent of Americans supported our government, the terrorists would see a united force against them and they would know they could not win. We must remember that united we stand, divided we fall. No truer words have ever been spoken.

Robert C. Bull

La Grande

Just what makes first-rate?

To the Editor:

The Feb. 13 Observer editorial begged the question, "What are the characteristics of a first-rate nation?"

Germany apparently is second-rate because it lost the first and second world wars. Had Hitler won would Germany be considered a first-rate nation?

France is second-rate because they were ousted from Vietnam. Apparently the editorial's author doesn't recall our own recent history in that country.

The editorial writer endorses the British Empire of 1700 to 1900 as a worthy role model for the United States to follow. Is it their subjugation of the people of much of Africa and South Asia that he finds most laudatory?

Great Britain was the first nation to use concentration camps (Boer war), and the only nation to cause the extinction of an entire race of people (the Tasmanians).

Are these the characteristics of a first-rate nation?

Winston Churchill is credited as saying that the superiority of the British Royal Navy in the 18th century was due to "rum, sodomy and the lash." One can only wonder which of these three elements has most influenced the author of the editorial.

Charles Gillis

La Grande

Return gentleman's toys

To the Editor:

To the person or persons who took the smoky, blue agate slabs out of my rock shop, I appeal to you to return them.

Just put them back in the shop, no questions asked. Aren't you ashamed to take an elderly gentleman's toys away from him?

If they are not returned, we hope your dreams will be haunted by flying blue agate.

Roy and Loree Leonard

Island City

Was U.S. insignificant?

To the Editor:

For The Observer in its Feb. 13 editorial to dismiss France and Germany as "second-rate countries" whose opinions may be disregarded by the United States is so outrageous that I hesitate to honor you with a response. On the other hand, I am embarrassed by your provincialism.

You contend that, "Our role is not the arrogant know-it-all," yet your condescending labels exactly express the arrogance that contributes to America's increasingly negative image.

Although our self-righteous conceit doesn't excuse terrorist violence against us, it does help answer the important question, "Why do they hate us?"

Indeed, no country should be judged "second-rate" or "insignificant" solely on the basis of its military prowess. Japan and Germany were very powerful prior to World War II. Were we, then, second-rate, insignificant?

We surely don't have to agree with any country's foreign policy. But to demean France, Germany, China, Russia "and a host of other insignificant European countries" is to assume that America can unilaterally defeat terrorism and despots. We cannot. And most of us learned in kindergarten that successful negotiation requires mutual respect.

I fervently hope our leaders have the wisdom and diplomacy to reject advice like yours.

Linda Birnbaum


Duct tape ineffective

To the Editor:

President Bush and his band of merry men are pulling out all the stops in their desperate effort to convince the American people and the rest of the world that the war with Iraq is the right thing to do.

Government intelligence (an oxymoron) overheard a phone conversation that indicated "someone, somewhere in some place" may commit an act of terrorism and it may be soon. And even though there was no indication of what form the terrorist act would take, we are being urged to hoard bottled water, food and toilet paper and to duct tape ourselves into a small area.

I fail to see how duct tape will protect one from a bomb, a grenade, or a nuclear warhead. If that is the case, think of the lives that could have been saved on 9/11 if they had only had duct tape.

Then today a further warning went out to banks and utilities — with the implication that the terrorist could be "disguised" as an employee. This should fan the anti-Muslim, anti-Middle East hate flames, which have died down somewhat lately.

And miraculously, coincidentally, yet another Osama bin Laden tape has surfaced! He talks about Iraq in the tape, which, according to the Bush administration "proves" that Saddam Hussein is providing Osama with money and materiel.

But I think the tape manipulators slipped up! Osama also says on the tape that he thinks it would be OK to force Hussein out of power. Now, if Hussein is providing him with money, material and safe haven, why would Bin Laden want him out — to be replaced by a United States military government? Does that make sense?

I refuse to allow the government to define my patriotism and love of country by whether I approve of the war or not.

Barbara J. Gray


Respect others' views

To the Editor:

I was disappointed by your Feb. 13 editorial ridiculing France and Germany as insignificant, second-rate countries that we should ignore, all because they have the audacity to try to use their influence to stop us from initiating a war against Iraq.

Tell me please, who could be more qualified to talk to us about the horrors of war and the need to prevent it than these two countries? Both of them were virtually destroyed by war twice in the last century.

As a humane nation, surely we should be concerned about that, even if we plan to be on the destroying end of the deal.

As I understand things, France, Germany and most of the rest of the world are saying that since we have peaceful access to Iraq we should look around carefully, see if we can find any weapons of mass destruction and if so destroy them.

President Bush on the other hand is saying let's attack now.

It seems to me that way we'll find out quickly if Saddam has the weapons, because if he does he's going to use them on our troops.

Hmmm, maybe we should listen to the rest of the world. I doubt anyone believes Iraq possesses an immediate threat to the United States so why the need to speed into war without considering less deadly alternatives?

We are a great nation, the richest by far, with the best trained military and enough nuclear weapons to blow the world up many times.

Indeed we are, as you mentioned, the only world power. However, that does not mean we cannot make mistakes, or that we should not listen to and even respect the views of others, even those we deem to be insignificant or second-rate and who may disagree with us.

Jon Norem

La Grande

Pray for peace on 3-3

To the Editor:

As you know, there is a chance the United States might be going to war soon.

I received the following idea on e-mail.

In Scripture, the number three represents the Holy Trinity.

When you think about March 3, in simple terms it is 3-3-03. Wouldn't it be great for all the Christians in the world to stop what they are doing and pray on the same day.

We could make 3-3-03, God's Day.

I mean, He was there for all of us that day on the cross.

Faith is the way that all miracles occur, but prayer is the key that unlocks the door.

I hope you will pass this request on to all your friends, family and churches.

Maybe we could all pray for three minutes for world peace at 3 p.m. at our local time on that day.

Please mark 3-03-03 at 3 p.m. on your calendar!

Florence Hardy

La Grande

Coverage disappointing

To the Editor:

Two recent articles have caused me to question the ability of The Observer to provide accurate news coverage.

First, the Feb. 18 article about Tessa Johnson and her commendable flag project in Imbler: Tessa does not have an older brother named Travis and her 4-H leader is Angie Johnson (not Amber).

Second: What gives with five columns of newsprint devoted to the man of the year and only two sentences about the woman of the year (Feb. 19 Observer)? Not to detract from Graham Hicks, he is a true asset to the community.

So is Susan Lewis. An equal and accurate report of Susan's many contributions should not be too much to ask.

Disappointedly yours,

Teresa Gustafson

La Grande

Editor's note: Susan Lewis will be the subject of a portraits feature in Monday's Observer.

Accomplishments ignored

To the Editor:

Congratulations to all the award winners announced at Tuesday's Chamber of Commerce banquet. But concerning The Observer's coverage, how is it that our good friend Graham Hicks garners such wonderful, all-encompassing verbiage, while our equally honorable friend Susan Lewis was mentioned as virtually an afterthought?

Why was there no mention of her great work as the hospital dietitian or all of the people she has helped with weight problems? Why no human interest material about her family? Or her wonderful, sunny disposition?

We would like to see a public apology to Susan, or perhaps a feature article? How about The Observer hiring a woman editor?

Carol and Doug Campbell

La Grande

County could buy Emporium

To the Editor:

Hey, everybody, we don't have to worry about the Emporium closing. The chain is losing money so the county will buy it.

Then they will be able to buy railroad uniforms at a wholesale price. Maybe we will be able to get a good price on golf shirts too.

John Stickle

La Grande

U.S. oppressed by Britain

To the Editor:

I am of German descent, and my first reaction to The Observer's Feb. 13 editorial was to cancel my subscription.

I then realized that I accept your right to express opinions I disagree with. Unlike the writer of the editorial I heed the opinions of those smaller and weaker than myself.

The writer claims that France and Germany are "second-rate counties."

Any child, even a French or German one, will tell you France and Germany are countries not counties. You are either second-rate geographers or second-rate proofreaders. You are clearly second-rate historians.

While idolizing British imperialism and colonialism, and the world order they maintained, you failed to recognize that one group oppressed by your heroes were the people who created the United States.

Do a little homework and you will discover what slaughter, brutality and injustice Great Britain carried out in an attempt to stifle American independence.

You refer to this as "keeping small-time dictators and wannabes in check." That's probably the kind of terminology the King of England used.

You berate the French for being weak and having been ousted from Vietnam. Do you really consider our experience in Vietnam to be much different than theirs?

You've criticized the Russians for their actions against Chechnyan militants. Perhaps terrorist attacks against countries and people the editorial writer classes as second-rate don't count.

Nobody is happy with Saddam Hussein or what is happening in Iraq. But your suggestion we turn allies into enemies is ridiculous.

I've signed my name to this letter. I noticed nobody put a signature to that piece of nationalistic hatred disguised as an editorial. If you want war, that's your business. But don't twist the facts to fit your pre-conceived notions.

Jim Kunkel


Nation must be unified

To the Editor:

Robert C. Bull's Feb. 17 letter said exactly what I have been wanting to write but just could not find the words.

War is a terrible thing but we need to stand together as a nation.

To my daughter: Pvt. Jaymi L. Hoots, who is graduating from AIT in Fort Bliss, Texas on Feb. 25, I am so so proud of you and love you very much.

Great job for doing what you believe in.

Cindie Rollins

La Grande

Fifty years of change

To the Editor:

For a moment last night I thought I was back in the 1950s. I was dismayed to read the Feb. 19 article about the Chamber of Commerce banquet where special people, including a man and woman of the year, were honored.

There were 24 sentences about the man of the year and a total of three sentences about the woman of the year!

That's right, only three sentences.

I am not trying to belittle the selection of any of the award recipients. I think they are all worthy of recognition.

I do believe, however, that Susan Lewis deserves to be treated better than she was by The Observer.

My concern is that many people, including myself, fought during the '60s and beyond for equal rights for all people — no matter what race or gender.

Fifty years ago in this country it was acceptable for a woman to be an afterthought, worthy of three sentences on the inside page of an article. But I thought that had changed.

At the very least, Susan Lewis deserves an apology.

Sandi Donnelly

Island City

Ignored Lewis' achievements

To the Editor:

I feel that the front-page article regarding last week's chamber award winners was a disappointing misrepresentation of the achievements of those honored.

Could your newspaper, through its staff writer Ray Linker, have been any more biased? The editorial staff displayed a lack of objectivity in approving the article.

Though I hold Graham Hicks in high regard and feel his award was well deserved, it was not appropriate for the local newspaper to print column after column about his achievements with little more than a sentence or two about the contributions that Susan Lewis has made to our community.

As for the other award winners, after reading the article, your readers have little more than their names.

In the future, I hope your reporters will take the initiative to review the nomination letters in order to get their facts straight and not disregard the accomplishments of chamber award winners.

Along with many people in Union County, I am pleased to be friends with both Hicks and Lewis, and I am delighted that they received the honor of being named man of the year and woman of the year.

Molly Burke

La Grande

Be aware of bathroom ploy

To the Editor:

I am writing this letter in the hope that readers of The Observer who have encountered a similar problem will notify the proper authorities and if they have not, be alerted to the possibility.

A rural delivery person of The Observer executed a very effective ploy to gain access to my home, and is suspected in the theft of a large amount of prescription pain medication.

The ploy follows:

The person drives rapidly to the residence, proclaims a very urgent need to use the bathroom, which in most cases a kind person will allow, then removes any or all prescription pain medications that might be in the bathroom medicine cabinet.

I notified the Union County Sheriff's Department and a report was taken after I discovered the loss of the medication. In addition I lodged a complaint with the publisher of The Observer stating my suspicions.

The sheriff's office indicated that the individual was cited and released. The Observer publisher said the contract worker no longer works for the paper.

We canvassed multiple neighbors to see if the ploy had been used on them and quickly discovered that it had, with one incident occurring the same day my medication was missing. Further investigation disclosed that this same person had done this many times before.

Be aware.

Robert A. Coates


Hospital helps production

To the Editor:

The campus of Eastern Oregon University sits on a hill overlooking the beautiful city of La Grande. For many years, all appearances would have pointed toward a philosophical moat surrounding this "Harvard on the Hill" as it was jokingly referred to by some.

La Grande and EOU seemed to be two separate entities with no intersection and no way of linking the two.

Happily, for the past five years, due to a concerted effort of town and gown, this disconnection is slowly being bridged with understanding and respect for each.

I would like to point out a particular case in point, which I recently had the privilege to experience. I am a theater professor at EOU and acted in a production of "Wit," the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Margaret Edson, presented earlier this month in the Schwarz Theatre at Eastern.

The action takes place in a hospital and there are procedures and circumstances in the play not unlike what might be seen on the television show E.R. When our director, Travis Gray, contacted Grande Ronde Hospital for advice about technical and medical issues, we received much more than that. Led by Kolleen Carrol, the education coordinator at the hospital, the cast and crew for the production took a grand tour of the hospital facility.

Not only did hospital staff give advice and counsel about the play, they also supplied many of the most important props and costumes for the show. Nurse Jan Koegler came to rehearsals to offer suggestions and recommendations for authenticity. Joalene Peasley helped us find much-needed medical equipment.

We are also grateful to the many theater supporters we have on our campus and in our community.

April Curtis,

associate professor of theater,

Eastern Oregon University

La Grande

Iraqis suffer under sanctions

To the Editor:

Here is another question in the war debate: Do we owe the Iraqi resistance fighters the support of an ally?

During the Gulf War, we encouraged the Iraqi resistance fighters to rise up against Saddam. Then we left them under this monster to suffer whatever wrath he could mete out.

Later, I understand, two hours before a planned offensive and past the point of no return, the Clinton administration contacted the Iraqi resistance, informing them that they wouldn't have our expected support.

Finally, we've left the innocent Iraqis suffering under economic sanctions, for the sake of impoverishing Saddam.

By encouraging revolt, and then leaving, have we incurred a debt to these who were our allies?

Nathan Smutz

La Grande

Check the motive

To the editor:

The British, through their empire, were instrumental in maintaining world order from the 1700s into the 1900s — or so you say in your Feb. 13 editorial.

On the surface, this appears to be true and you imply this is the appropriate role for the United States in the current century.

I would like to point out that motives other than altruism were at play in the Empire.

Ask the Boers about the goldfields and diamond mines of South Africa.

Ask the Chinese who were forced to allow the import of opium into China by British traders.

Ask the Sikhs of India who were conquered by Imperial Armies.

But perhaps the best measure of whether we should follow the Brits in their responsibility as the policeman of the world is to look at who the British were policing in the Middle East in 1921-— and imagine us in their place today.

In 1921 the Brits policed Egypt, Iraq, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Transjordan, Palestine, India, Cyprus, Sudan, Baharain and Aden. They ruled, occupied, or administered each of these Muslim states but never understood any of them. This was how they maintained order in the Middle East.

The Brits were not there for the betterment of the locals.

The Bush administration is planning an occupation to administer/rule Iraq as we speak.

They are not driven by altruism either — can you spell OIL?

Step one to the British role. Funny thing though — there are no Brit "policemen'' in these countries any more. They were thrown out by the locals or they left before they were.

Maybe we can learn from their failures and not take the first step.

The world does occasionally need a policeman — but the world needs a consistent symbol of hope for mankind much more.

Robert Larison

La Grande

Get meaning of polls

To the Editor:

Apparently, top advisers to President Bush are unwilling to tell him he is wearing no clothes, or they see the clothes as well and he refuses to listen to those who try to tell him he is naked.

And any poll that does not begin with "If you know that attacking Iraq will cause the death of a loved one, do you...?'' can't be taken seriously, for that is what will happen to many. Absent that caveat any poll is worthless and undeserving of attention.

Dan Thompson


War scares him

To the Editor:

I am not a learned man. I have been trained to observe and regurgitate information in two- or three-dimensional form.

My latest observation scares the hell out of me. War.

We are going to war with a sociopath whose lack of morals eclipse even Hitler's. War is such a primitive tool. Is this a reflection of a paleo-form of government? The idea that this nation's obligation is world cop — how obtuse can we get?

I am not a conscientious objector; I was drafted, did not cross any borders to escape my country's request.

I was proud to serve my country.

We have many wars in our own yard to fight. All of the hard-working people who have done their part, lived honestly, payed taxes, now in retirement — they can't afford medical care or medication.

They have been cheated out of the best part of the American dream.

Our young people are unable to get the education to make their dreams come true.

The cost of college — if they weren't the brightest in their class — leaves them hopeless and bewildered. Hard-working families in poverty, unable to save for retirement, what about these wars?

The cost of living is killing this country. There are few jobs for those not cut from the college cloth.

We have veterans living on the streets. It doesn't make any difference whether they were combat veterans, they all served unselfishly.

The crimes committed against our citizens are a plague destroying our civilized beliefs. Peace officers are not to blame. It is our elected officials and all of us. We look away while lobbyists and world banks buy our sanctuary.

Maybe if the silent majority doesn't quit being silent, it might just quit being at all.

Rex Watson

La Grande

Learn to appreciate

To the Editor:

Since moving here 10 years ago from a major city where I was born and raised, I have become very aware of the exciting history of this area.

I eat at the senior center occasionally and love hearing the many stories our older citizens tell. This is the end of an era where life was simple and could be terribly hard.

How about an ongoing series with their early stories? An era without thermostats, hot and cold running water, indoor plumbing, cars, radios, telephones in every home, air conditioning, electricity, good/ quick medical help, school buses and on and on.

You get the picture.

These stories should be shared with all of us because there isn't all that much time left for the telling!

Bottom line: Do we really appreciate what we have and what they sacrificed and survived?

Lois MacBird

La Grande

There are benefits to war

To the Editor:

After watching the protests and the letters about the Iraq crisis, I felt compelled to get my voice out there as well.

My interest has really been sparked, in part, by my French teacher, Mr. Cahill.

I've always liked reading the paper, watching the news and keeping informed, but when it came to this topic, I found myself looking up cnn.com or grabbing the recent Newsweek at our school library.

I've done a good amount of research on this issue, in order to make my own informed opinion — instead of being ignorant or just making other's opinions my own.

I don't think anyone enjoys war. I certainly don't believe that wars are the things we should be most proud of.

But I do support the government and if they make the choice to fight then I will give them my backing.

It just doesn't make sense to me to split our nation apart in its own inner war. Is that not what the evils of this world want? For our nation to fight against itself, to uprise against our leaders, to tear apart the American ideals?

Of course, we are all allowed to have our own opinions and to express them. We've been given that right because of previous wars won. We have our freedom because of battles fought in the past.

I think back to September 2001, just after over 2,000 innocent Americans were murdered simply because they were Americans. Most of the nation was willing to do anything, including war, to bring the masterminds of the tragedy to justice.

There are threats now from other forces and whether or not they are concealing nuclear weapons. All it takes is a few determined people to take over planes and run them into landmarks. There are numerous possibilities of harm without nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction.

Are we going to sit and wait for the next attack on innocence before we decide to act?

As a nation we should stand united in protecting our families, our friends, our way of life. Even if that means a war to overthrow the evil that is plotting against us and is waiting, patiently, to bring harm to us, America. I know there may be devastation in the midst of war, but I believe the benefits will be more plentiful then if we did nothing.

Not only for Americans but for Iraqis. Not just for you and me but for our loved ones, our freedom and our way of life.

Alexa L. Leavitt

La Grande

Bush said it all

Well, wake up protesters. Did you listen to and observe and comprehend what our President Bush had to say?

I think he said it all and I still stand behindhim 100 percent.

Welcome home Pvt. Jaymi Hoots. I know you will do what you think is right.

We are behind you and our president and all ranks of the military. Stand proud!

Cindie Rollins

La Grande


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