Letters - August 13

Alligator problem

It’s beginning to look like we have an alligator problem. A serious alligator problem. At first there were only a few of them. They’d crawl out of the swamp at night and appear on our lawns and in our swimming pools. They were scary, even dangerous, but we could catch them and throw them back. To keep them out we built alligator fences.

But somehow they kept on coming. The more we threw back, the more appeared. Our fences got bigger and more elaborate, but so did the alligators. Then we started shooting them. But wouldn’t you know it, the more we shot, the more they multiplied. We were terrified! So we called it our “terrorist problem.”

There comes a point, however, that to get rid of alligators, you have to drain the swamp. That we’ve been unwilling to do. In all fairness, swamp draining is a massive undertaking. It entails more than capturing, shooting and fencing out terrorists. To dry out their breeding grounds requires a major shift in our national priorities and a major redeployment of our national resources. Where for the last 50 years we have provided principally for our own needs, we must now focus our impressive resources on the needs of those abroad whose destitution and desperation is the swampy muck that breeds and harbors terrorism.

This we can do. We demonstrated in World War II that we could radically shift our national priorities. Fifteen million of us were in uniform. Those at home lived with few material comforts. Everyone sacrificed until it hurt. At the war’s end we showed our great generosity as a nation by dedicating 16 percent of our national budget to helping the needy of the world rebuild their lives. Today we allocate only one half of 1 percent to that end. And we wonder why we have a terrorist problem?

It may be too late to turn the tide of terrorism. There may be too many alligators out there or too much swamp now to drain. But if this truly is a “war on terrorism,” shouldn’t we put ourselves on a wartime footing and sacrifice what we need to at home so we can drain the swamp abroad? This may be our last chance to dry up the breeding grounds of world terrorism and save our great nation.

David Duncombe

White Salmon

‘First Friday’ Merchants’ Party

At the Aug. 5 “First Friday” event an ominous incident occurred. A group of citizens brought together by their concern about our nation’s drift toward becoming a fascist theocracy, their concerns about lies and deceit in high levels of our government, and their concern about “pre-emptive wars” against nations whose resources are coveted, were told that they were not welcome on the streets of Hood River.

One of these citizens was costumed as Uncle Sam; the other three were carrying signs. One sign said simply, “Quagmire.” Another sign said, “Healthcare not warfare,” and the third sign was a face of George W. Bush with an elongated nose — a visual reference to Pinocchio.

This group, while quietly mingling with the crowd on Oak Street, was told by a group of people in yellow shirts that they could not be on the streets of Hood River. When asked when the First Amendment had been rescinded in Hood River, one of the “yellow shirts” pointed to the west and said that the group could “protest” behind the library.

Later that evening, I reread the First Amendment and found no indication that it could only be practiced in isolated places, back alleys or “behind the library.” I also learned later that the “yellow shirts” have no official or legal status to tell people where they can be or what they can carry.

One of the “yellow shirts” said First Friday was the downtown merchants’ party and they (the merchants) didn’t want the group there. In our nation’s capital, multinational corporations are running things while in Hood River it seems to be the downtown merchants. In both cases democracy is trumped by commerce and people are expected to be quiet and buy so that business will thrive.

The crux of this incident demonstrates the trend toward curtailment of the Bill of Rights and abuses of civil liberties and serves as an example of just what the “protesters” wanted to point out.

Bill Jones

The Dalles

Who’s First?

More sources are coming forward with information that Osama bin Laden was in fact cornered early on in this “War on Terror,” but that with a lack of troops or other requested support from Bush and Rumsfeld, he was able to get away. I’m just wondering: Almost four years now into this “War on Terror,” is anyone taking betting odds on whom George W. Bush will have managed to arrest first — Osama bin Laden or Cindy Sheehan?

Ken Salt

Hood River

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