Letters

Balkanization
While online looking for an article, I not unintentionally arrived at New Times. My purpose was to take a quick look at what's really happening in the desert and move on. Instead I wound up reading Michael Lacey's entire story on Pavle Milic ("To Serb With Love," June 3), and I enjoyed it very much. His life story stands up pretty well on its own, but played against the backdrop of war-torn Kosovo and the Colombian drug cartels, it was a real page-turner. Or is mouse-clicker more correct?

It was interesting to see the war from the perspective of one or two unwilling participants. The people running the show here don't have a clue how much the Serb's history impacts everything over there.

Steve Frangier
via Internet

I enjoyed your human-interest piece. It appears that this nihilistic carnage may be coming to an end. It seems the political and military Pluto has had his feast. Yet it is perplexing as much as it is troubling that the people of apparent higher educational background, cosmopolitan upbringings and analytical minds differ so deeply on the issue of truth. I am not talking about 1389; I am not talking about deep historical engraving that runs through the blood of ancient peoples. I am talking about the past two-and-a-half months, a year maybe. I am talking within the historical parameters of an American psyche.

You and your compatriots see so clearly "the Serbian crime," you trust the proclaimed humanitarianism of your leaders, you do not question the motives of Albanian stories and fuzzy photos of mass graves that have miraculously appeared each time NATO "erroneously" murdered civilians.

I see little of that. I see the cynical game of the rich and powerful who have never, ever acted in the name of humanity. I see the shutting down of an analytical mind, I see no questions being asked by the oh-so-free media. I see rage of the hegemony against the last bastions of self-preservation.

But the good news is that the outline of truth will always come to light. Sure, in 20 years, once nobody cares but the spirits of the victims, once when a new Robert McNamara decides to purge himself in a perverse literary ritual of a dying man. I still may be wrong, and then I will take my hat off to you, and to all who believed that in simplicity lies the wisdom. If the opposite is true, please remember it, and in 20 years have a moment of silence and drink a glass of red wine for the souls of desecrated Serbs, who as a nation may not exist by then. (But then, without false drama, that is the natural course in the evolution of humanity.)

T.J. Cooley
via Internet

Nice fairy tale! Ask an American Indian about "our" experiences with ethnic cleansing. I don't believe they will limit it to putting them on reservations. They might tell you about the Kit Carson campaign against the Navajo, the Trail of Tears and the many atrocities such as Wounded Knee.

Ted Bundy
via Internet

Crossfire
Here's a hot flash for Flashes and the left-wing nut director of Public Campaign, Ellen Miller (June 3). The list of politicians who have accepted NRA contributions is a roll of honor. These courageous congressmen have consistently defended the right of law-abiding Americans to own guns for sport, recreation and self-defense.

To imply that these fine public servants have sold their votes is a slur, a slander and a lie. The National Rifle Association is grass-roots politics at its best. We will continue to support our friends and attack our enemies with both money and votes.

No set of laws can prevent unfortunate criminal or accidental shootings. Just as laws requiring backyard pools to be fenced have not stopped all child drownings. There are already plenty of laws curtailing the access of guns to children. I suspect Ms. Miller and her anti-gun friends are using this tragic series of school shootings to promote the banning of firearms. They're just afraid to come right out and say it, knowing that they would be on the losing end of the debate.

Ellen Miller and her special-interest group, Public Campaign, are not really interested in clean elections. They are obviously intent on seizing the political process to promote their own left-liberal agenda. They are dishonest and they are wrong.

Jerry W. King
Phoenix

Just read "Soldiers of Fortune." I take that you are not a fan of the Second Amendment. You said that until we get special-interest money out of politics, we will not be able to get sane gun laws. Well, our brilliant elected officials have passed more than 20,000 gun laws in this country. If they haven't been able to come up with sane laws by now, even by accident, what makes you think that they ever will?

I think that if we do away with the Second Amendment, we should go ahead and do away with the First Amendment. It has done about as much damage as any of them. Let's not stop there, do away with the fourth as well.

Name withheld by request

Y2K Piece A-OK
I have read New Times for almost 20 years. Right on with your Y2K expose ("Grist for the Millennium," James Hibberd, June 3). Especially Greg Fraley, whom I know as a decent, honest and genuine Christian.

Bill Miller
Scottsdale

Ranch Blessing
We are 100 percent in agreement with Amy Silverman's condemnation idea for Spur Cross Ranch ("Ranch Handout," Wonk, May 27). We have followed this controversy since its beginning, and are equally tired of the rhetoric. Is there not another venue for all of this energy?

Karin and Joseph Wade
via Internet
The media have lately discussed the subject of the social adjustment of high school students, so your article ("The Teen Commandments," Glenn Gaslin, May 27) will probably draw an extra share of attention. Gaslin covers a large body of material, but he has done a good job of detecting the trends and analyzing the shifting directions of the subject matter contained in movies and TV produced for the young people of today.

Gaslin's article is valuable because it provides a small window for viewing the screen, much as the youths may be seeing it. This is the right way to go--and it might be an example of a beginning step toward understanding what teenage culture is about. He is telling us that today's high school is a complex social environment--constantly evolving, and at a rapid pace. Even the producers are hard-pressed to stay ahead of their own game.

Now, once again, our people are looking for reasons and causes--anything that may be related to the lethal behavior of a few students. The search is not new, but there may be something different this time: Some people seem willing to look beyond the usual attack in games, guns, music, TV, etc., and, seriously, to examine high school life and the social structure in which students live.

The entertainment field is only one area of student life, but it is important, and should be studied in depth. Hopefully, a group of wise people will be organized, and will examine all of the factors in its world that may affect the behavior of our young people. There is a need for study of the real problems and shortcomings. There are certainly some very bad experiences available in the high schools. There are sources of anguish strong enough to push a young person's life into a tragic conclusion, using deadly force, and we need to know more about it.

I don't think any help can be gained from new laws, censorship or technical devices. What we need are some people who can gain some real understanding of the unhappy lives being suffered by so many young students. We need to get hold of some facts, so that we can help.

Glenn Gaslin and New Times have made a good move. You show respect for the young, and a genuine interest in their ideals, opinions and taste.

Howard Griffin
Phoenix

Fast Times
The article in the May 13 issue of New Times titled "Think Tank Warfare," by Tony Ortega, addresses a very real danger to our democratic society in general, and the institution of public education in particular. The danger to our society is that those with money and power, even though representing a minority viewpoint, are able to exercise an influence that is disproportionate to their numbers because the appearance of research is accepted as a legitimate basis for public policy. The danger to public education is that among those who would support vouchers are individuals who want a separate school system for themselves at public expense. Indeed, so blatant have been the proponents of vouchers, some have proposed continuing vouchers for students "even if their public schools improved or their families moved to academically strong districts." (See "Voucher Front and Center in Fla. Legislature," March 24, 1999, edition of Education Week.)

Conservatives have come to understand they may never convince the majority of Americans that their philosophy is sound. "Market-based education" advocates appear to have reached the conclusion that they need not convince a majority, because as long as apathy and the understandable preoccupation with personal matters (job, family, finances, health, security, etc.) prevail, the committed few can control the distracted many.

Few seem to challenge the inconsistency of the conservative agenda, which argues on the one hand that the public's interest is best served when needs are met through the market--while many of those same conservatives are found voting for bills that restrain trade, deny equal-employment opportunity and are among the usual suspects behind efforts to oppose consumer-protection laws.

The danger posed by the call for market control of public schools is a deception within a misguided attempt to solve a real problem. Clearly, public schools need to improve. The problem is finding ways to make improvements without destroying the public schools of this nation. Some, I fear, have no qualms about destroying public education. They argue that public schools are a monopoly; therefore, they are inefficient and ineffective. Many of us who know public schools well--both by training and experience--believe that the motives of many who call for vouchers are suspect.

Some, though not all, of the advocates of vouchers deceive the public when they propose vouchers for the poor and those children attending ineffective schools. We cannot fail to remember that some of the strongest advocates of vouchers are also the very same people who have consistently opposed every move to improve the lot of the poor and members of the minority community. Thomas B. Edsall wrote an article titled "Jim Crow Alive in Mississippi" for the Washington Post that was reprinted in the April 25 edition of the Arizona Republic. Edsall points out what many of us already know; namely, a number of private schools were established expressly to avoid the integration of public schools. It is no stretch of the imagination to understand the current move to support vouchers is, for some, an opportunity to use the Trojan horse of vouchers as a move ostensibly to improve the educational opportunities of the poor--while, in fact, setting the stage for the eventual public support of private schools.

The double standard in the actions of the conservatives is apparent when they call for ever more checks and monitoring of public schools, while voting against legislation that would impose minimum accountability on charter schools and private schools using vouchers. Kelly Pearce, writing in the May 8, 1999, edition of the Arizona Republic, reports that the Arizona Legislature voted down any proposal to reform charter schools. The Legislature, Pearce wrote, rejected a bill that "would have prevented school districts with financial troubles from sponsoring charter schools, required prospective schools to write a business plan, and would have stopped the practice of giving state money up front." Indeed, so lax is the attitude of some conservative legislators toward charter schools, a proposal to withhold 10 percent of a charter school's funding even if it was violating its contract or state or federal laws, was not passed, according to Pearce.

Writer Ortega makes the point that the Goldwater Institute is using the late senator's name to imply, and leave for the observer to infer, that Senator Goldwater supported vouchers and charter schools. If this is a purposeful misrepresentation, it speaks further to the contradiction in the "market-based education" philosophy, for, in fact, if the idea being proposed were of such compelling virtue, the market would embrace them without alleged mislabeling.

Joseph W. Lee, Ed.D., deputy superintendent
and chief operating officer
Chicago Public Schools (retired)

Youch, That Hurts
To whomever wrote the review about Notting Hill ("Notting Special," Scott Kelton Jones, May 27), I strongly disagree with the tone and attitude. I found the movie to be not only heartwarming, but also to be that kind of feel-good film that convinced me to see it in the theater three times. As a rule, I don't like Hugh Grant as an actor or as an individual, but his performance in Notting Hill left only warm feelings for him in my mind. He grabbed the audience and made every last one of them fall in love with him. The movie gave me perspective and a belief that there are some good things that can come out of a drab and not-always-so-happy life. Past performances for either actor play no part in this film. It was not meant to be an earth-shattering two hours, but merely a moment of enjoyment. I loved the movie all three times I have seen it so far and plan to keep it close to my heart during those unpleasant moments in life. It makes me smile.

Natalie A. Tucker
via Internet

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