For the week of 06-29-2000

Race Scarred

Raise standards: You recently published two letters to the editor that were offensive to me, and of little intrinsic value to our community at large.

The first letter, "Mutton Jeff" (published May 11), was from an anonymous writer. While taking Jeff Ofstedahl to task for "attacking the messenger" in Ofstedahl's April 27 letter to the editor, the writer accuses him of shilling (poorly, it is suggested) for the gay community and somewhat triumphantly provokes the public to dismiss Jeff as "another walking statistic." The dramatic difference between Jeff and the writer of "Mutton Jeff," I would suggest, is the presence vs. the absence (respectively) of courage and, therefore, character.

In the second letter, "White guilt," published June 15, John Sheehan from Sun City takes Michael Lacey to task for his "Bad Dog" article of June 1.

Mr. Sheehan charmingly refers to African Americans as "niggers" not once, but twice. He further elevates his message by encouraging Mexicans and African Americans to stop their whining and grow up.

New Times, for some unimaginable reason, deemed both of those letters to be worth the cost of ink and paper. One appears to assassinate the character of a man while the other dismisses two entire races.

Perhaps New Times would argue that its intention is pure -- that it is simply demonstrating some pervasive bigotry rampant in our culture. I would argue that debate of this nature only contributes to escalating bigotry and furthering divisiveness in our culture.

Do we truly benefit from the publication of these kinds of outbursts? I would personally love to live in a community that embraces a higher standard of tolerance and compassion. The responsibility for achieving that standard belongs to the entire community. Can New Times do its part by raising its editorial standards?

Sue Tormala

Wrong number: Please issue a disclaimer to the "White guilt" letter, since I am receiving obscene phone calls and threats. I am John Sheehan who resides in Sun City West, not Sun City, and am in fact the only John Sheehan listed in the phone book in any of the Sun Cities. The real writer of the letter is not listed in the phone book at all.

John Sheehan
Sun City West

Editor's note: Got that, people? The writer of the "White guilt" letter has an unlisted phone number. If you are calling the John Sheehan listed in the book, you are calling the wrong party.

Heal thyself: I would like to begin by saying that I agree with John Sheehan, that white people need to stop feeling guilty about what their ancestors did 300 years ago. I believe that there should be some kind of reparation, preferably of monetary nature, for those past human rights violations and inhumanities. Black people also should stop using the past as their reason for failure today. We need to stop acting like the victims we once were. We are in control of our destinies now and there is no excuse for any of us not to succeed if we try.

As far as running our own countries is concerned, Mr. Sheehan, white people have been in control of the government in Africa for years -- or have you never heard of apartheid? So if Africa is corrupt and backward, you have only the white man to blame for it. Africans were running their own lands until the white man arrived and decided that greed and profit and slavery should rule a nation instead of the kings and queens who were born there.

The same mentality brought corruption and slavery to America. Americans, real Americans, were running this country, too, but there is no profit in peace. The real Americans lived in harmony with the environment until, you guessed it, some greedy, self-serving white people came over and decided that the savages should not control the land anymore. Sharing the abundant riches that were found to be here was never an option. Of course, the settlers had no problem allowing the Indians to make it possible for the newcomers to survive in their harsh, new world, and they repaid their kindness with the very savagery of which the settlers accused the Indians. Those Indians survived the diseases that the settlers brought with them from Europe and the general murder and mayhem that nearly wiped out tribe after tribe were herded onto the reservations that we see today.

So in reality, when John Sheehan says that the blacks and Mexicans need to run their own countries, he is talking about himself, also. If you are white, then you came from somewhere else and need to go back and learn how to run "your own country." He sounds like he's doing his fair share of whining, too. Maybe he should have spent more time in school studying his spelling, vocabulary and history. Perhaps then he would have more understanding and tolerance of others. His letter is indicative of the kind of ignorance that resorts to using the same old tired derogatory and inflammatory verbal triggers that are designed only to incite hatred and division among people. His letter displays just how illiterate he is. While he was sleeping, the world changed.

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