Letters for November 21, 2002

Swings wildly at alternative rag's scribe: Thank you for Bob Norman's eloquent article ("The Antiwarriors," November 14) about our bus trip to Washington, D.C., on October 26. The title and subtitle of your story set the tone early for your obvious attempt at discrediting the participants of the growing and unstoppable peace movement.

While everyone has a right to his own opinion and I respect that, you do make your article sound very anti-establishment/anti-war. But the underlying tongue-in-cheek, bash-the-protesters attitude is obvious. Do you actually think (like the politicians) that we are this stupid? It's no wonder Michael Moore called his book Stupid White Men. All the other people you bashed in your "shotgun report" can, and I hope they do, defend themselves. I am writing you to defend myself.

"A middle-aged man pulled some protest 'hardware' out of the trunk...." Hardware? What the hell is hardware? You make it sound like I'm getting out an AK-47 or a rocket launcher. Why don't you just call me a terrorist? Do you mean my video camera, my "Veterans for Peace" hat, the sign I carried with me during the march that shows the real horrors of war: children in a Kabul hospital wrapped in bloody bandages, crying out to us to stop the insanity? Images the mainstream media won't show the American people for fear that it may actually affect their consciences.

Mention the word revolution to the rich and they scramble for their remote-controlled cameras at the gates of their palatial homes. "Break open the rifle lockers, quick -- arm the maids, the butlers, and the gardener; they are coming to get a piece of my hard-earned booty." Look it up -- revolution only means change, so calm down, you Palm Beachers.

Oh, and the bit about the patriotic-blinder sunglasses. If people in this country did just that, i.e., take them off, as the politicians and the wealthy did a long time ago, they'd see just how much "they're being ripped off and enslaved" -- a quote from James Nichols in an interview by Michael Moore from his new film, Bowling for Columbine.

Regarding your bashing of Jello Biafra's "America-hating rants" or Amiri Baraka's "scape-goating poetry," I will say this: These men are two of the bravest and most patriotic (in a "good" way) people I have ever heard speak. They don't believe in the manipulator's intimidation attempt to make us believe that "we can't handle the truth." And just because I played some of their work on the bus doesn't mean I agree with or believe everything they say.

Biafra does not hate America; he loves this country more than Norman can see. Norman just doesn't have the depth to see it. His shallow idea of patriotism means to wrap yourself in red, white, and blue and spew horse-hockey like "America is a great (whatever that means) country, whatever its faults." You talk how great it is because we can Bush-bash. Try that to his face and see how fast you will become a political prisoner. A free country? That's a joke. Free if and only if you follow the party line.

"When I spoke with Frank...." If you ever spoke with me on that trip to D.C., you certainly did not introduce yourself or mention you were there as an infiltrator to do an article on how stupid we protesters were for sitting on a bus for all those hours, not being able to get comfortable. Boo-hoo for you. Some of us are willing to make sacrifices from our cushy lives to be in solidarity with enslaved people who live in squalor so that we can have massive SUVs and king-size beds with satin (or is it gold-trimmed?) sheets.

You also say, "I was lucky to get an hour's sleep the whole trip." So who are the "whiners"? And while we're at it, who were/are the savages?

I never said I was "apolitical" prior to 9/11. I said I was asleep, like most Americans are to this day, due to the success of the corporate-media/government-brainwashing-public-relations-firms' (paid for by our tax dollars) effort to keep the public uninformed about the real agenda of American foreign policy.

This isn't the first time I've been immigrant-bashed by the right-wing media. Your type always likes to throw that, "Oh, he's a foreigner and that explains his attitude towards the good ole USA." I'll tell you this, Canadians are going to help save this country from itself. Think of all the canucks that have spoken out and made Americans think; Neil Young ("tall white mansions and little shacks²), Bruce Cockburn, Donald Sutherland, the Guess Who with American Woman (³I don't need your war machines/I don't need your ghetto scenes²), and the list now includes me.  

If I hated this country, do you actually believe I'd go to Washington? I have two American-born sons. If I didn't love this place, I'd have taken them to Canada for their births. And I would have moved away after 9/11, fearful of more attacks. Instead, I'm still here fighting for our Constitutional rights that John Asscroft is trying to take away from us with his USA Patriot Act.

Just because I "played my cards right" (saved some money) before I moved to Florida from Ontario (which you probably think is a city), Canada, and didn't have to work for a while and could live my lifelong dream of cruising on my own sailboat doesn't give you the right to bash me about it. You only wish you could break the slavemaster's grip and get away from all the hypocrisy and bureaucracy for a couple of years.

I don't know where you "reporters" make up these lies about talking to my children about being soldiers and our beds being attacked. You dumbfound me. I never said anything about people "feeding on it" or "champion this cause." You are so full of lizard dung. If anything, I don't want to stand out as a leader, because the murderers just kill them. Everyone is a leader. Even you.

And you should know that martyrs are dead. I am far from that; I've never felt so alive in all my life. The truth has set me free. You say I'm obsessed with U.S. foreign policy. What the hell does that mean? Do you mean I'm obsessed with watchdogging it? You think I'm crazy to be so committed to the causes of antiracism, equality, peace, social and economic justice, democracy, liberty, and freedom. It only proves that I am worthy of living in "the home of the brave." What do you do to make yourself worthy of such a claim?

I do it all for the future of my two sons. And if Norman has children, he might want to think about taking some action himself. ³Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something² -- Gil Scott-Heron.

Frank Gubasta

Fort Myers

Darlene wants a grudge match: President Bush should be applauded for taking a courageous stand against Saddam Hussein's outlaw regime and its reckless pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. As the president noted in a recent address to the nation, the riskiest option for dealing with Iraq is to do nothing. Inaction would only give Saddam time to complete his malicious pursuit of nuclear weapons and embolden tyrants and terrorists everywhere.

Acting now to disarm Saddam, using military force if necessary, is the only way we will keep America safe from weapons of mass destruction that fall into the hands of freedom's enemies. President Bush is right -- our nation cannot let world events be dictated by brutal and lawless dictators.

Darlene Deegan

Fort Lauderdale

Trim, don't ax: It just amazes me how Jeb! has conned so many voters ("Hustling the Hood," Chuck Strouse and Rebecca Wakefield, October 31). In his past term, he pushed the citrus canker scam, which cost the state well over $600 million. Citrus canker is a naturally occurring bacteria that lives in warm, damp climates. You can't stop it by cutting down trees. It also does not kill trees. Most healthy trees won't even become infected. Besides, what takes longer? Treating an ill tree or growing a new one? A sick tree may take a few months or less to treat. Growing a new tree takes years.

I have a friend whose trees were all cut down with no notice at all -- his trees were healthy. Tim Farley on WTVJ-TV (Channel 6) twisted his story to make it look like he received a notice. Now there is a class-action lawsuit that will most likely end up costing the state millions. Jeb also is privatizing for the sake of kickbacks. Well, I guess "We the people" are just dopey.

Mark Booker

Boca Raton

Lamenting Miriam: I initially agreed with those who protested that we should not excoriate Miriam Oliphant, but after seeing Chuck Strouse's column on her hiring practices combined with her budget overruns, I believe the criticism is appropriate ("Walter's Lament," October 17). She hired a number of friends and past associates at salaries much higher than they were paid at the jobs they left to work for her. I hope we are getting value commensurate with those salaries, but something I saw a few weeks ago leaves me with doubts.

I was driving on Andrews Avenue near State Rd. 84, behind a large truck with its rear door open. Inside were many black plastic cases, most secured with bright yellow straps that were stenciled "Broward S.O.E." The exception was a stack of four or five cases, which apparently were on a wheeled cart of some sort. I watched in disbelief as this stack of cases rolled back and forth, smashing into the other stacks of cases, as the truck made turns and stops in traffic. I would not be at all surprised to learn that our new electronic voting machines were inside those cases. I use a similar kind of case in my line of work, so I know the cases themselves are expensive, and one uses such a case to protect only expensive equipment, especially electronics. Nonetheless, negligent rough handling such as I witnessed is inexcusable.  

I am an angry but not surprised taxpayer. I have seen plenty of government ineptitude and waste here in our tropical paradise: The Broward School Board regularly wastes huge sums of money, but it's especially disturbing when this is caused by their ignoring the advice of their own taxpayer-funded attorney. Fort Lauderdale's mayor and City Commission have allowed a climate of racism to fester among city employees, and taxpayers will now be paying for big awards and attorney's fees in the resulting lawsuits. I have personal experience with this mayor and commission, having spoken before them on occasion. The thing I find most frustrating is how they nod and smile politely from the dais yet appear to comprehend what I say no more than cows comprehend a passing train.

Palm Beach put the "duh" in "Floriduh" with its poorly designed butterfly ballot and the resulting electoral mess. It seems Broward's elected officials wish to help retain that distinction. It's not the salaried folks who thanklessly toil that deserve our rancor; it's the elected "leaders" who need to be held accountable. Let's fire them all as soon as they are up for reelection. It's a message that must be sent loud and fast, and it needs to be done yesterday. Is "Next Yesterday Air" available yet?

John Conley

Fort Lauderdale

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