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Letters to the Editor 2017-1-19

INCONVENIENT TRUTHS

I appreciated Shawn Boles’ clear-eyed viewpoint on the Nancy Shurtz Halloween party flap [12/29].

The professor was, perhaps unwisely, injecting her professorial role into a party environment, which seemed to get everybody confused. Seems she surprised her guests with an unscheduled pop quiz on a book regarding white privilege that she hadn’t assigned them to recognize, much less read.

A costume party is not a book discussion group. Without enough clarifying conversation, her costume was doomed to become a projective test for the whole campus, stampeding the administration into hysterical and unprofessional reactions.

The UO is now a national embarrassment as a bastion of academic repression, having attracted the attention of The Washington Post for punishing speech that “offends” numbers of people beyond some unspecified threshold by some unspecified standard of measurement.

But when did speech interpreted as offensive, disturbing or “harassing” bysome  students and/or faculty in a university environment become prohibited and worthy of sanction? When did subjective reactions to perfectly legal behavior become a standard for sanctions? When did elemental legal mechanisms such as hearings and mediation disappear, and in a law school of all places? More importantly, why?

Privatization of higher education funding is undoubtedly a key factor. Under the unelected tyranny of neoliberal capitalism, colleges and universities live in terror of alienating large donors.

In UO classes I have had the depressing experience of observing that truths inconvenient to influential outside powers are assiduously avoided. Faculty subservience to the hidden sources of their paychecks often deprives our students of knowledge crucial to their eventual functioning as effective citizens of our deeply troubled and dysfunctional republic.

The UO president and provost may well discover in court whose actions in this matter were and were not “indefensible.”

Jack Dresser, Ph.D., Co-director of Al-Nakba Awareness Project, National vice-chair of Palestine and Middle East Working Group, Member of Veterans for Peace and Int'l Society of Political Psychology, Springfield


HIGH-TECH HURT

As concerns climate change, your grandchildren will be dealing with natural disaster as a way of life.

They will also be so high-tech they’ll be able to trace their parents voting for Donald Trump.

Your grandchildren will look you in the eyes, hurt you were the people of their trust.

God bless us.

Philip Byron Renow, U.S. Army Medical Corps ’67-‘70, Cheshire


DO SOMETHING

I have a suggestion for Chris Percival and anyone else who is planning to “sit back and enjoy the ride; it’s going to be a doozy” during the next four years [Letters, “Lessons Learned,” 1/5]. Get off your butt and do something. 

Volunteer, contact members of Congress, make donations to causes you believe in, join 350Eugene, get trained in peaceful civil disobedience (which is offered throughout the year in Eugene), and join others in peaceful rallies standing up for women, equal pay, the environment, LGBTQ community, public education and/or whatever policy you believe is important in the United States and locally.

Finally, please read the book just released in August 2016 entitled Trump Revealed by Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher. You will learn the history from childhood to the present of the president-elect — learn how he makes deals, the relations he has with his past and present corporate circle, his relationship with leaders and citizens of countries around the world and how he plans to use those techniques to “Make America Great Again.”

It will help you make plans for the next four years rather than sitting and watching it all unfold around us.

David Babcock, Elmira


HEADSCARF POWER

We are kicking off the “Year of the Head Scarf” as a continual visible sign of protest against the misogynistic and anti-American policies voiced by the incoming Trump administration. 

The headscarf is used as a unique enhancement of female beauty. It can be a fashion trend or a religious garment. It’s a lifesaver for a bad-hair day too. As an evocative emblem of overarching women’s matters, it is the perfect icon for a coalition of like-minded women — a sisterhood.

This sisterhood is being threatened by the new Trump Republican regime. His uncontrollable rhetoric has publicly sexualized and ridiculed women’s bodies, declared war on their freedom of choice and menaced their religious freedom by threatening to register or ban Muslims.

We are seeing reports of women in hijabs being accosted by white males trying to rip them off their heads and telling them to go back where they came from.

Let’s stand up for women of all faiths and beliefs, like true Americans, and publicly protect our right to be free from assault by Trumpster terrorists. If women with hijabs are going to be targeted, then let us hide them in a sea of headscarves.

Join in open solidarity of women’s rights and empowerment, and make the ubiquitous head scarf the new statement of the American woman.

 HeadScarfNation.com is an open coalition of women whose purpose is to shine a glaring beacon on societal and political assertions that obstruct women’s interests and to light a path for women to navigate safely and boldly to their own destination. 

Pam Wilson, Eugene


YA MA DA POONOO

Jan. 20 will be a day of nausea when Jabba the Trump takes the oath of office.

Chuck West, Eugene


ALL MEOW, NO CLAWS

Outgoing Mayor Kitty Piercy gave a speech last month to City Club of Eugene citing her alleged role in the cancellation of the West Eugene Porkway and subsequent “collaborative” that supposedly brought all sides together.

The Federal Highway Administration and ODOT chose “No Build” for the WEP bypass because Section 4(f) of the Transportation Act prohibits federally funded freeways through parklands such as the BLM’s West Eugene Wetlands. Details at peaktraffic.org/4f.html and sustaineugene.org.

The collaborative to which Piercy referred included some of Piercy's conservative and liberal friends but excluded west-side neighborhood groups and West 11th businesses. That meant citizens who opposed a worse version of the WEP crafted by a couple of the mayor's liberal friends were not welcome. This group recommended spending a quarter billion to widen West 11th, more than double the EMX cost and more than the $169 million WEP estimate (only $17 million had been appropriated).

Piercy also cited her climate law as a laudable achievement, yet its only financial requirement is to spend public funds on carbon credits. The city’s climate analyst said buying offsets for the planned 10- to 11-lane Beltline Highway widening would be ridiculous but he didn’t dare say that in public. Similarly, the city of Las Vegas claims to be sustainably powered through credits, yet that desert mirage is probably the least sustainable city on the continent.

Piercy’s greenwash rhetoric distracted from ugly sprawl (Capstone, et al.), widening I-5 and Beltline, and the growing number of warehouses on farmland (Envision Eugene).

Mark Robinowitz, Eugene


UNITED WE RESIST

In The Wretched of the Earth (1961), Martinique-born Afro-Caribbean psychiatrist and philosopher Frantz Fanon argues that the major weapon of colonizers is the imposition of the image of the colonized on the subjugated people.

Recognition forges identity, and dominant groups — whether the usual suspects of rich, white, Anglo Saxon, Protestant, male or American — tend to entrench their hegemony by inculcating an image of inferiority in the subjugated.

People or society mirroring back to us a confining, demeaning or contemptible picture of ourselves inflicts suffering, damage and distortion. Non- or mis-recognition can inflict real harm, oppress and imprison someone in a false, distorted and reduced way of being.

Fanon recommended violence as a response. In response to the reactionary populism of Trump, I’d recommend non-violent resistance. Most important is a serious political strategy.

The Women’s March on Washington (Eugene Weekly, Jan. 5) strives to be “diverse” and “better allies and listeners.” The Left’s crucial task is to forge a coalition of women, LGBTQIA, labor, Latinos, Native Americans, African-Americans, Jews and environmentalists. For it is just that scatter of left politics that allows neo-capitalism to dominate our society. To the extent each left group focuses on its own single issue, the left will remain impotent in the face of soft fascism.

As Deanna Eisinger said, we have to make sacrifices “to advance society as a whole.”

Sam Porter, Eugene


DON’T BE A FLAKE

If you were a kid in the town where I grew up, a snow day wasn’t just an opportunity for sled riding and snowball fights, it was also an economic opportunity.

Kids could work all day shoveling walks for dough, since property owners in upstate New York where I lived were obligated by law to clear their sidewalks. If you didn’t, you could be ticketed and fined. You could also be held liable if someone slipped and fell on your sidewalk due to un-cleared ice or snow. To my knowledge no laws like this exist here, but they should. 

When there is snow and ice, people should be able to get around with some reasonable level of safety. Whether you are elderly, disabled, poor, young or old, you should be able to walk to the store, the library, the doctor or a friend’s house without hiking boots and ski poles. One of the reasons school was canceled on Jan. 9 was because of the terribly dangerous conditions of the sidewalks. 

I respectfully ask my fellow Oregonians to consider expanding their idea of personal responsibility and civic duty. Begin clearing your sidewalks when needed, keeping them open and safe no matter how much snow or ice we get.

Joshua Welch, Eugene

UNSAFE SPRAYING

There have been a number of op-eds lately about how safe and well regulated the spraying of pesticides and herbicides is in Oregon. I see “industry” flacks using both pesticide and herbicide interchangeably, which continues to confuse the public about what is really going on in our forests. I believe that is deliberate. 

The real issue that should be debated is how “safe and well-regulated” these poisons are. Whatever you call them, they are designed to kill. Both federal and state forests here have not used aerial spray for years! All work is done by hand directly where it’s needed, providing forest jobs. How can governments grow trees this way, but not private companies?

And if it’s all so well regulated and safe, why can’t we find out what exactly was in that “proprietary” spray? People and animals are sickened by drift, but without knowing the chemicals involved, doctors are helpless. Some people say to leave the area when you know there will be spraying. There is no advance notification except vague notices that there might be a spray event in future … maybe. 

More corporate harms inflicted on citizens, with absolutely no redress! State regulators do nothing, and state legislators do even less, because most of them receive campaign money from timber interests. It’s hard to buck the system when your livelihood depends on it! 

Demand changes in Salem about how these poisons are regulated! Also, sign the charter amendment to ban aerial spraying of herbicides in Lane County at communityrightslanecounty.org/campaigns.

Robin Bloomgarden, Eugene


DON’T BLAME HOLLYWOOD

EW published a letter from Brian Sun under the subhead “Rising Racial Tensions” [12/29] which ended with his concern that “racial tensions are starting to grow and Hollywood is complaining about running out of Asian actors, I think it is important to talk about these issues.” 

I was unaware that the lack of Asian actors being cast in Hollywood movies was contributing to rising racial tensions until Mr. Sun brought it to my attention. However, I believe he should consider the demographic and cultural factors involved here. 

Asian-Americans only comprise 4 percent of the U.S. population, but they represent 20 percent of the students now attending America’s elite Ivy League schools. It’s obvious that Asians are having tremendous success when it comes to academic achievement.

Asian-American families have a well-earned reputation for placing a huge emphasis on academics. They might even discourage their children from getting involved in extracurricular activities like acting in the school play, since it would take time away from their schoolwork.   

Instead of accusing Hollywood of inflaming racial tensions by refusing to cast Asians in major movie roles, has Sun considered the possibility that the pipeline of Asian actors heading to Hollywood to become movie stars just isn’t that full? 

His lament that “Hollywood is complaining about running out of Asian actors” seems so trivial and petty. This is a demographic and cultural issue, not a racial one. Please use some common sense before accusing an entire industry of racism. 

Derek Williams, Eugene

Editor's Note: The 2010 census puts the number of Asian-Americans at 4.8 percent, and recent assessments as high as 5.6 percent. And Ivy League schools have been accused of underadmitting Asians.


SECULAR LIES

The “freedom of speech” in the U.S. Constitution is “infringed” when a religious banner [“Religious Banner Downtown Raises Ire,” 1/5] says: CHRISTMAS (attend a church of your choice) JESUS (celebrate his birth). It is not “inappropriate, divisive and it’s a non-inclusive message to other members of our community.”

What a lie!

Stace Webb, Eugene


ROBERT ‘BOB’ DRITZ

Robert “Bob” Dritz has passed on during the early hours of Saturday, Jan. 15, and as he lived his life with intention, so was his passing. As he put it recently: “It’s just not that fun anymore and the cost to quality of life is now outweighed by the pain and discomfort ad lack of resolution of these growing number of problems.”

Bob had come to Eugene after a successful stint in the mainstream business and financial worlds, seeking less fame and fortune in California and more soul-satisfying affiliation and work that mattered to the common person and a place he also knew he was meant to be. 

Bob “officially” arrived at White Bird Clinic in 1978, already close friends with several of the then leaders of the clinic, and was hired as the financial Coordinator and second member of the admin team. He had witnessed the first “revolution” at White Bird, affectionately known as “Dog Wars,” and knew that this was where he belonged.

In 1982 he was hired as our clinic coordinator, and he faithfully served in that role for 25 years, until his declining health led to his need to retire. While Bob’s leadership style was at times seen as difficult to work with and at times divisive, there was never a time when folks did not also understand that he was dedicated to our mission and unwavering in his support of the agency, our staff’s wellbeing, clients that we serve and the importance of our work and the importance of the excellence in our standards and values. Bob modeled mission-driven leadership and the critical importance of our unchallengeable integrity in all that we did, and his at times impatience and even rudeness appeared whenever he was less than onfident that these were what drove us.

There was never a more committed member to our principles, nor one who would fight harder for the egalitarian values that have been the foundation of who we are — a pain in the ass? Yes, at times! 

Passion comes in many forms and Bob was never in question about his passion for the cause in the name of the right. He will be missed.

Chuck Gerard, White Bird Collective member and former clinic coordinator