Of Bias and Guilt
Worthy discussion: Regarding John Sheehan's letter to the editor (June 15), which was written in response to Michael Lacey's June 1 piece, "Bad Dog": I've always wondered whether espousing some crazy right-wing fundamentalist theory in a public forum just to encourage discussion of an unpopular issue would be a positive step to advance social justice and understanding. Now I know it works.
Mr. Sheehan puts forth views that are spoken about regularly in barbershops, exclusive private clubs, backrooms of Republican political campaign headquarters and attorney lounges around the country. Rarely does one have the opportunity to actually hear a public expression of these sentiments. I suspect cowardice is the reason.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed the expression of sustainable humanity that was expressed in response to Mr. Sheehan's letter.
Thanks, Mr. Sheehan, for reminding us that we're all human.
As for Mr. Sheehan (and all the other racist bigots out there): The map of the human genome has been completed, showing the world that the differences among the human species in terms of race are one-tenth of 1 percent of the DNA in our bodies. Like seeing the image of the earth from outer space or discovering that the sun does not orbit the earth, we have seen the last of the reasoning for bigotry based on race or sexual orientation thrown out the window.
That fact is, we're all pretty much the same. Racism (indeed most isms) are unethical, not sustainable, and based on lies.
Black, white, yellow, brown, together we are the human race. Let's move on and explore the universe.
Editor's note: A reminder to readers -- the John Sheehan who wrote the letter that has evoked so much response has an UNLISTED telephone number. Anyone who dials a listing for John Sheehan is NOT calling the author of the letter.
White power: I would like to send a message to the author of "Devolution" in the Letters section of your June 8 issue. This message is also for the rest of the human race to ponder.
You say, "The very mention of white supremacy sends a shiver down my spine. The more groups like this that are allowed to grow and flourish, the more desensitized the general public becomes to them."
Well, my name is A. Gene Kelso, and I'm a white supremacist. You imply in your letter that you believe in morality. Then you make it clear how much you despise me. And you want the police to stop me from organizing with other white supremacists. You want to prevent me from possibly starting another holocaust.
My first response to you is to point out that if you really believe in morality, then it necessarily follows that you must believe in truth. False statements tend to undercut any would-be moral principles. Evidence (truth) proves my belief in white supremacy. You can look at the long line of great white scientists. For example, Isaac Newton and Michael Faraday were both English. Or you can read the book, The Bell Curve, which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt a clear superiority of white mental capacity, on average, compared to black mental capacity. I'm not talking, here, about morality. There's nothing wrong with some people being not as smart as some other people. I'm talking here about true or false. But how much evidence do people need before they will believe that the white race is more advanced than the black race in significant ways?
Even if you insist on believing that all men are really created equal, there is still no good reason, if you really believe in morality, if you really have love in your heart (which is what morality is really all about), for you or any good person to despise me, given the fact that I'm a truth-searcher, given the fact that I'm humble enough, of course, to admit that I'm wrong and change my beliefs if anyone could ever show me that I'm wrong. My enemies, always, are people who don't believe in any moral principle, people who are evil.
A final point in your letter that bothers me is your belief that another holocaust is possible unless my right to organize with other white supremacists is suppressed. But it's you who are guilty of an unjust heart. You and all the black thugs in the black neighborhoods in this country who would enjoy beating the crap out of me and killing me. Because they wouldn't survive much longer if a person like A. Gene Kelso ever came into power. It's evil people like you who aren't satisfied that the white males in America are already restricted from jobs and education to a great extent by the anti-discrimination laws and affirmative action laws. There are countless scholarships for minorities only and organizations for blacks only. But lower-class whites have no organization for whites only, nor rich families to help them. That's why you see lower-class blacks at Harvard but not lower-class whites.
But I don't believe that truth causes injustice; therefore white supremacy didn't cause the Jewish Holocaust. It was the evil in the hearts of evil people who twisted reason with Hitler's "big lies." The Nazi scientists were the best in the world. They, literally, were supreme. But false egalitarian beliefs do tend to lead to injustices such as the ones I've mentioned.
If you want to "render true judgments" like it says in Zechariah 7:9 (New Revised Standard Version), then don't paint with a brush that is too broad unless you're really wise.
A. Gene Kelso
Antiquated thought: Thank you for printing the letter from John Sheehan. He reminds us of what schools must have been like in the good ol' days before we uppity minorities started twisting everything around.
Let's see, Mr. Sheehan alerted us that Mexico and Africa are corrupt and backward because Mexicans and niggers run them. I guess no one educated Mr. Sheehan as to which ethnic group has been "running" Mexico and Africa.
Mr. Sheehan also complained that he feels pressured into believing that "every Mexican's and nigger's well-being is our personal responsibility." I guess no one told Mr. Sheehan who put the food on the table, built his home and made his clothes. Who's been acting responsible for whom?
Mr. Sheehan's lament reminded me of a quote from the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr., which I paraphrase as:
We may not be who we want to be;
We may not be who we ought to be;
We may not be who we could be;
We may not be who we can be;
But, praise God, we ain't who we wuz.
José Antonio Franco
GilbertWho's enslaved whom? I have been reading the exchange of letters about guilt, greed, etc. And I think they have been quite interesting and angry. Let's not be so quick, however, to point fingers in our attacks. Let's ask a few simple questions first.
Why did Rome enslave a good part of Europe? Why did the English enslave the Irish? Why did Egypt enslave the Jews? Why did one native tribe raid a neighboring tribe, looting and stealing women and horses? Why did one African tribe sell out a neighboring tribe to the slave traders?
The answer to all these questions is self-serving greed. And it's found in every human being, not just one race of people. I like to think we're more advanced and civilized as a society than we were hundreds of years ago, but it still goes on today in a lot of places and instances. We've just gotten more subtle at it.
Another question: Why does one man enslave another for the simple reasons of self-serving greed? Simple: Because he can.
Name withheld by request
Unmasking bigots: I really pity people like John Sheehan. In his response to New Times' article on the Devil Dogs, Mr. Sheehan comes across as a bigoted, lonely, bitter, old, paranoid man who comes from a generation that lived with hate. Like the old oak tree in Aesop's fable, he never learned to bend with the winds of change, and found himself falling down.
New Times may get a lot of flak for printing Mr. Sheehan's letter containing racial epithets, but I actually feel that you did a great service by revealing that people like him still exist. Does Mr. Sheehan actually condone the Devil Dogs' hate crimes? His belief that New Times is establishing a "guilt trip" says more to me about his own guilty complex than anything else.
Hopefully the younger generation can ignore the Sheehans of the world, and live lives that foster love and tolerance for everyone.
I Remember Monti's
The family touch: I remember when Leonardo Sr. and, at any given time, most of the Monti family, were running Monti's, and the dining experience was wonderful ("Mill Rut," Carey Sweet, June 15). The minute you walked through the door you were greeted with a happy, familiar smile. One of the children or hosts would chat with you as you walked through what Sweet refers to as a "labyrinth," rather than the great historical work of the early Arizona leaders, especially Senator Carl Hayden and his family. The huge, busy restaurant had employees who would call out your name to say hello if you were lucky enough to have eaten at Monti's just once before. Whatever you chose to order was almost perfection, but nothing, until now, could compare to a steak from Monti's -- or the low prices. The only problem with Monti's now is the new owner. If the others would come back, Monti's wouldn't need to worry about staying up with the times. We will always miss Leonardo Sr., who would never have let quality fall while prices rise. I'm sure Leonardo Sr. is very sad to see what's become of his years of hard work and his wonderful restaurant. Why don't the other Monti family members take it back? Then once again we could look forward to our excellent dinners and great prices at La Casa Vieja.
Live for today: I would like to commend Amy Silverman for writing a very touching article, "Dying Poets Society" (June 22). The idea of bringing poetry writing to Alzheimer's disease sufferers is a beautiful one that speaks to my own heart. My husband, a retired school teacher, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's when he was 58. He has had it for eight years, and I recently had to place him in a nursing facility nearby. He had previously asked me to bring him a pen and paper and would enjoy writing his name. In the past year, he has lost a great deal of vocabulary, and I bring him colorful children's books that he loves reading.
I read your article and I immediately called the nursing supervisor at his facility. She is most anxious to read your article, and I have offered to help in preparing and presenting a similar program at his facility. Your article touched me because it captures the sadness, the humor, the limitations -- the essence of an Alzheimer's sufferer. I applaud those people who understand that anything one might do with or for an Alzheimer's victim is but for the moment, yet say: "Let's do it anyhow." My husband can still smile and laugh and appreciate good things, even if it is just for the moment. He once told me what it was like for him to have this disease when I asked him something about yesterday, and he sadly replied: "I don't have a yesterday."
That is why I always try to make today, this very moment, count. In reality, that is all any of us actually have.
The long goodbye: What a great story. My father, Leonard Monti Sr., passed away in 1997 from complications due to Alzheimer's disease. During the course of his illness, I gained much insight into this illness and the families who deal with it. My father was fortunate that he was able to remain at home with his wife until he passed away, but, believe me, when Nancy Reagan called this disease "the long goodbye," she was right on the money. I agree that this poetry may be similar to music therapy, but it is so touching to see happiness in an Alzheimer's patient for any reason. I applaud your taking the time to provide the population with any information to make this last journey in a patient's life easier. Thank you for writing such a kind and caring story.
Road to respect: I was happy to read your article "Rod Fellows" (Brian Smith, June 22). There was a period of time when the American automobile was appreciated by the family. Sunday drives were the highlight of the weekend, and washin' up the ol' car on Saturday was something people looked forward to. Nowadays, it's "Lease it, let Danny's wash it and Jiffy lube it." It's okay -- that new jellybean car will be a beer can next week. We can smash it while we're sitting on our whitewalls. Give 'em hell, Howard Greenfield.
Name withheld by request
Speed kills: Your recent account of a high-speed trip down the interstate in what can best be described as a jalopy will have set the hobby back decades if one of the car-crushing legislators reads it.
Glorifying law-breakers in public is utterly stupid. Your reporter, although his writing style is rather good, is an utter moron for placing his life, and the lives of innocent motorists, at risk just to get a story.
Rat Rods, the counterculture this alien moron belongs to, represents the negative image the majority of hot-rodders have tried to distance themselves from for the past 30-plus years.
Perhaps you should do a bit more investigating before you condone triple-digit interstate travel.
Lost in Translation
Ill and arrogant: I was glad to read that the hospitals are providing translators for non-English-speakers ("Critical Connection", Amanda Sciosia, June 29). I can appreciate the fear a person may have with a serious illness/injury and not be able to communicate with the caregivers. I'm deeply disturbed, though, with the fact that so many Central/South American immigrants come here and make no effort to learn English. This seems to be more prevalent with the Spanish-speaking people than any others, and I don't know why. However, I do believe that for anyone to migrate to another country and make no effort to speak the language is nothing more than arrogant. The fact that so many of the Central/South Americans come here illegally makes it even more arrogant.
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