Letters to the editor

Molton’s pot looks black indeed

Dear Mr. Molton: Regarding your most recent cartoon [March 2], may I offer that my tendency to pander to special interest groups, including developers, is about as intact as your reputation for objective interest in the facts?

— Carl Mumpower
Vice Mayor
Asheville

For whom the media tolls

The recent flooding in California brought us a stream of awesome and horrifying photos of homes being completely destroyed as they slid helplessly down mountainsides, sometimes colliding with and destroying yet another home. Both news and weather channels assured that these tragedies did not go unnoticed. The images indeed invoked our heartfelt sympathies.

After viewing any of the reports for even a short time, it was quite apparent that the homes shown were very expensive, some perhaps in the millions of dollars. I could not help but wonder why the plight of these victims was chosen to be displayed upon our screens. …

I assume that people of lesser means also suffered great losses, but stories about their hardships seemed to be severely underreported in the media. I might also assume that wealthy victims may have insurance to help out … [or] financial resources to weather the storm, to the extent that their lives would be disrupted but not totally destroyed. … Victims with lesser financial means would not fare as well.

Storm disasters may not be the only area subject to selective media focus. Every day, people in our nation become homeless by virtue of job loss, health crisis or any number of other forms of economic strife. Do we see proportional media representation of their hardships?

We are, and continue to increasingly become, a nation of “haves” and “have-nots.” The latter have been treated as a disposable segment of our society. Examples of this abound, but perhaps the most repulsive one is the disproportional representation in our armed forces. Military recruiters actively pursue the have-nots by going into their neighborhoods and luring them into enlistment, knowing that their jobless plight will work to the advantage of the recruiter. They are the ones who fight and die in our wars, while children of the rich and privileged enjoy safer and more comfortable life choices.

It is bad enough that this “disposable society segment” attitude exists, but it adds insult to injury to have it nurtured, validated and reinforced by mainstream media selectivity. The message is subtle but clear: We should care about bad things that happen to the rich. They matter. Ignore that which happens to others. They don’t matter.

We are a long, long way from correcting the imbalances that exist in our society. Alternative media is a resource that will help turn the tide. If our people know and understand the truth, they will respond accordingly, politically and socially. I am a proud supporter of WPVM and other forms of alternative media that thankfully exist in Asheville. Hopefully, more of us will catch on, tune in, read and lend support. I am forever grateful for and indebted to the tireless, dedicated efforts of alternative media journalists, in particular, Amy Goodman. If you have ever listened to her “Democracy Now” program, you will understand why.

In conclusion, I shall modify words from an Ernest Hemingway novel. If you question “for whom the media tolls,” the answer is: “It tolls for thee — if you are among the elite.”

— Tom Alba
Asheville

Two years, and sadly counting

It’s been almost two years since the United States invaded Iraq on March 19, 2003. Only two months after the invasion, in May of that year, our president declared, “Mission accomplished.” In truth, this “mission” based on lies had just begun.

Our military invaded a country already devastated by U.S.-led sanctions. It drove Saddam Hussein into hiding and proceeded to secure the Iraq oil industry and the “reconstruction” of the country for the corporations friendly to the American administration. Next, it set up an occupying force and ruling government to maintain order for the invaders. Told by this president’s propaganda machine that our forces would be hailed as liberators, they were instead — and not surprisingly — met with resistance by the Iraqi people.

At present, over 1,400 U.S. soldiers have died, an estimated 100,000 Iraqis have died, Iraq is far worse off than before the invasion, our country’s stature has greatly diminished among the rest of the world, and billions … of dollars that could be used to promote “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” in our country and around the world are squandered in a violent and counter-productive occupation. … Iran [is] apparently becoming the next target.

Threats and aggression should not be the basis of our international relations. There is no future for our children in this.

A climate of fear pervades our nation. … Yet the democratic republic we claim to be is based on the right to dissent, to freely and openly discuss policy, and to peaceably assemble to petition our government for a “redress of grievances.” That is how our country has been able to evolve a “more perfect union.” Our history is filled with accounts of good people “speaking truth to power” to improve the lot of workers, of black Americans, of women, of our environment and more. …

It’s clear to me that our country’s present foreign policy is either outright evil or outright ignorance. We need a new and enlightened foreign policy based on human rights, not torture; regard for international law, not arrogant aggression; and respect for the sovereignty and views of other nations in the world, not robbing billions of dollars from our collective treasury. …

Good people in Asheville and around the country will not remain silent on the second “anniversary” of the illegal and brutal invasion of Iraq. We will gather together on Sunday, March 20, to grieve the suffering that war always causes, to mourn all the dead and wounded, and to call for an end to the occupation. We will come together in hope and a belief that there is a better way for our government to function … [and] to demand a future for our children that is free of cynicism and despair, because war as state policy will be seen for the insanity that it is.

— Anne Craig
Asheville

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