Letters

Letters 12-14-2014

Come Together There is a time-honored war strategy known as “divide and conquer,” and never has it been more effective than now. The enemy is using it against us through television, internet and other social media. I opened a Facebook account a couple of years back to gain more entries in local contests. Since then I had fallen under its spell; I rushed into judgment on several social issues based on information found on those pages

Quiet The Phones! This weekend we attended two beautiful Christmas musical events and the enjoyment of both were significantly diminished by self-absorbed boors holding their stupid iPhones high overhead to capture extremely crucial and highly needed photos. We too own iPhones, but during a public concert we possess the decency and manners to leave them turned off and/or at home. Today’s performance, the annual Messiah Sing at Traverse City’s Central Methodist Church, was a new low: we watched as Mr. Self-Absorbed not only took several photos but then afterwards immediately posted them to his Facebook page. We were dumbfounded.

A Torturous Defense In defense of the C.I.A.’s use of torture in a mostly fruitless search for vital information, some suggest that the dire situation facing us after 9-11, justified the use of torture even at the expense of the potential loss of much of our nation’s moral authority.

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What we can learn from our Latin neighbors

George Foster - May 12th, 2005
I hope your Cinco de Mayo was a happy one.
Cinco parades are now a fixture in such diverse places as Detroit and Rupert, Idaho. In recent years, raucous parties celebrating May 5th near the University of Cincinnati campus forced police into riot gear amid fires and flipped-over cars.
Even in Fairbanks, Alaska the locals get a little wild and crazy. The North Pole Rotary Club celebrated Cinco de Mayo with their third annual community halibut feed. The menu included halibut, fries, salad, dessert and all of the fixings for halibut tacos.
Today, no one really cares much that Mexico defeated the French army in Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862 - even in Mexico. Most Mexicans look to September 15th as its national holiday, having won independence from Spain on 9/15/1810.
Despite several annual independence celebrations, Mexicans are still fighting for their freedom. A couple of weeks ago, they kicked off the Cinco holiday by sending 1.2 million protestors into the streets of Mexico City to condemn the political ouster of the Mexico City mayor on trumped-up charges. After one of the biggest protests in the country’s history, the popular mayor was allowed to return to office.
Often due to similar civic marches opposing their dictatorial policies, 10 South American leaders have been forced out of office since 1990. In that period, popular uprisings kicked out presidents in Bolivia, Peru, Argentina, Ecuador, and Haiti. According to the Christian Science Monitor, Chilean economist and pollster, Marta Lagos, maintains that this trend is a healthy one. “People have an idea what real democracy is, and they know they don’t have it quite yet.”
How have the world’s people learned more of democracy over the past 15 years? Much of the credit should be chalked up to increased usage of cell phones, the Internet, and cable TV. For example, the protest in Mexico City was organized through email with concurrent marches in Rio de Janeiro, Madrid, Paris, and Los Angeles. Like most successful protests, they were all televised.
Then there is Iraq. This fledgling democracy flies in the face of the populist movements increasing around the world. There is no other way to sugarcoat it: Iraq’s democracy was instituted at the point of a gun.
After the death of almost 1,600 American troops and a reported 100,000 Iraqi civilians, surveys indicate that Iraq’s citizens are not happy with the U.S. presence or their newly installed government.
Part of the reason could be the increasing accusations of human rights abuses against Iraqi police officers and soldiers. As Iraqis take over more responsibility for patrolling their streets and fighting the insurgents, their inexperience and lack of training is apparent. Charges of abuse to prisoners include torture, murder, and arbitrary arrest by Iraqi security forces.
After suffering from Saddam Hussein’s henchman for decades, such abuses sound eerily familiar to Iraqis. Reportedly, many of Hussein’s former security forces are filling similar positions in the new Iraqi government. Sadly, even U.S. officials admit to continual shortcomings in their recruiting and training efforts.
As is the trend in Latin America and elsewhere in the world, would the people of Iraq have kicked out Saddam Hussein in due time on their own? We will never know.
A more timely concern is whether the eventual Iraqi government, induced by the U.S. invasion at huge cost and suffering, will be an improvement over the former Iraqi tyrant.
Let’s hope so.



 
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