Letters to the editor

Rep. Taylor should represent us

Charles Taylor seems to be the representative of the “significant opposition,” not the “broad support,” on the American Heritage River designation of the French Broad. He claims 3-to-1 opposition, but his office will not reveal specific numbers. However, they acknowledged that the opposition number was less than 1,000.

Knowing that a list of 4,000 (at least) [people signed] petitions in support of the proposal, the truth seems to be at least 4-to-1 in favor. The 4,000 were verifiably from the 11th District, contrary to suspicion expressed by his office.

So, numbers (broad support) do not count. The “friends” of Charles Taylor are the significant opposition that he acknowledges.

When a member of that opposition [was] quoted as saying he is “afraid of a United Nations forced evacuation of 80 percent of Haywood County, and 100 percent of Macon and Jackson,” I said, “That beats all!” …

So, the newest boogieman is the U.N., and the newest vigilantes are the militia types protecting their property rights, and Charles Taylor has chosen to be their representative and point man. What is this world coming to?

It has been a relief to learn that Republican senators Fred Thompson and Bill Frist of Tennessee have written letters of explicit endorsement of the designation, giving all of the logical positive reasons. The two Republican congressmen of Cocke and Knox counties (Bill Jenkins and John Duncan) indicate general support in their districts, and acknowledge a few hundred [cases of] “property rights”-type opposition.

It will be a fine day when Charles Taylor chooses to be the representative of the citizens of western North Carolina, and not just his friends.

— Martha Lamb
Asheville

Rusted art reflects junky lives

I read with amused interest your article on the county commission and junk cars.

Suddenly I saw how appropriate it is that there is a rather tall and spiky pile of rusting metal adjacent to the new Federal Building in downtown Asheville.

In 1992, when the government found it had exactly $147,500 to spend on an original sculpture for this plaza area, it was stipulated that “the work must reflect the historical and cultural heritage of the area” (according to a story published July 2, 1992, in the Asheville Citizen-Times).

The sculptor who was awarded this commission apparently wasn’t kidding when he stated that he had traveled around locally prior to designing this Buncombe sculpture.

Apparently he saw some examples of the tradition of [leaving] large appliances tumbled down hillsides, as well as junk cars in residential yards.

So what he produced is a pile of junk, nicely scaled up to more harmoniously relate to the massive Federal Building, so pristine, reflective and almost crystalline in its pure form. I wonder if Quality Forward can remove this rusty “total embarrassment” free of charge.

P.S. How clever of you to use a full frontal nude to illustrate your cover story on burying poor people [Jan. 21]!

— Ron Ogle
Asheville

Republican smear campaign is disgusting

I’ve thought for a long time that the various right-wing factions are greedy, self-centered, and extremely short-sighted. What else can you conclude from folks who are willing to trash the Earth for future generations, ruin the atmosphere, destroy our national parks, give away our public lands to certain industries, and see entire species exterminated for all time — all in the name of profit?

But even I have been amazed by the unrelentingly vicious, power-driven, rumor-mongering, vitriolic campaigns certain right-wing Republicans have been waging against the president and his administration. What is this about? This is about a fanatical, frightening group of people who are determined to take control at all costs, regardless of the impact on this country and its people. This is about the next election. This is politicking at its ugly worst.

We are all funding this, and have been for the past six years. Kenneth Starr hasn’t been able to produce evidence of anything. No one was much concerned with the who-made-what-phone-calls issue (perhaps if the Republicans are so concerned with tax dollars, they’ll stop using them to conduct their flame wars). The conservative-Christian-funded, bogus sexual-harassment suit didn’t make a big dent. So, now, they’ve trotted out the really heavy artillery, with the help of a sleaze-bag book publisher (with Watergate ties) who has a vendetta against the administration and extremely questionable motives. And creating the news (the so-called “crisis”) is relatively easy when you own all the mass media!

Not only are our tax dollars paying for all this, [but] we are being cheated out of time and attention of our elected officials, of whatever value that may be. … [U]nfortunately, our representatives are busy advancing their own political agendas, rather than solving our problems, all at our expense. (Of course, perhaps they prefer to divert our attention from what they are trying to slip through: things like increasing corporate welfare/perks/giveaways exponentially … [while they talk about cutting] health benefits for the elderly, for example). But after all, profits before people!

That’s really at the heart of everything now, what our country has really come to be about: the almighty buck, and the power to make as much of it as possible. That’s certainly what this unrelenting, politically motivated smear campaign is all about: power and greed. In the past, I have always voted as an independent, selecting an individual rather than a “platform.” Right now, I wouldn’t vote for a Republican running for dog-catcher.

— Anne Johanssen
Pisgah Forest

Celebrate M.L. King’s holiday properly

Martin Luther King Jr. Day: The exclusive, passively celebrated holiday here in the mountains.

I am a 30-year native of Asheville, and have an avid interest in the community and community-based [holidays]. In my eyes, “the King day” holds hierarchy as a holiday observance.

Yes, we close the schools, the buses stop running, some businesses are closed, mail doesn’t run, etc. And we even have the yearly prayer breakfast at the Civic Center, on a day previous to the holiday, during early morning hours, at a fee!

But what do we actively do for the general populace, at no fee, as celebration of the day aforementioned?

I would like to see the community centers get involved, the YMI Cultural Center, the NAACP, the churches. … Do you have any more suggestions? How about a peaceful King Day march — joining all ages, races, ethnic backgrounds, arm in arm.

How about the local libraries, bookstores, etc., having readings, playing tapings of speeches and words of exhortations given by the slain minister to educate the young unknowledgeable of today?

Couldn’t the local radio stations commit a day of interviewing on what the holiday means to us now, more than a decade [after] its inception? And perhaps play spiritual songs sung at his marches?

Asheville, let’s come together and celebrate King Day! His martyrdom should not be looked upon exclusively [by] certain people, or observed passively or inactively!

— J.M. Johnson
Asheville

Asheville’s witch ritual has found a home

As many may have read in our notice in the Mountain Xpress calendar, we’ve been directly appealing to Asheville residents to donate a privately owned site for the 4th Annual Witch Ritual, to be held on Samhain (Halloween) 1998.

We were forced to solicit in this manner because of our increasing battles with city bureaucrats, whose continual policy changes have seemed designed to put ever more obstacles in the way of our use of public facilities for this free and open spiritual rite.

Evidently, witches weren’t the only ones who felt that we were discriminated against this past October. Unity Christian Church, in Arden, has generously offered to provide us with 22 acres for our rite.

Unity members have acted on their consciences. Let their example of inter-religious cooperation be a wake-up call for hate-mongering groups to discard their bigoted invective and, instead, practice the principles of charity and justice that they claim to believe in.

We received many kind suggestions in response to our appeal, and we wish to thank everyone who has been so concerned that our free Samhain rites continue.

To everyone who has given up hope that people of different faiths can work in harmony together, take heart. Religious tolerance is not only preferable, it is inevitable.

— Dixie Deerman, high priestess
Steven Rasmussen, high priest
Coven Oldenwilde
Asheville

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