Letters to the editor

Women’s vote and The Night of Terror

I would like to remind the women who read this that Aug. 26 [was] Women’s Equality Day. This date commemorated the passing of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote.

Throughout my life, I was aware that many women fought long and hard to help gain the equal right to vote we have today. Until recently, I was not aware of just how hard these women fought. For 72 years (a lifetime for some), women struggled to attain voting privileges. In fact, the picket lines these women set up in front of Woodrow Wilson’s White House were the very first peaceful protests in America.

Because of these protests, the women were wrongly convicted of “obstructing sidewalk traffic” and sent to the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia. Nov. 15, 1917, has been dubbed “The Night of Terror” because of what the women had to endure there. Lucy Burn was beaten and chained by her hands to the cell bars above her head for the night. Dora Lewis was hurled into a dark cell, smashed her head against the iron bed, and was knocked out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought [Dora] was dead and had a heart attack. For weeks, the women’s only water source was an open pail, and their food was set out until it was infested with worms. One of the leaders, Alice Paul, announced she was on a hunger strike, and the guards tied her to a chair and forced liquid through a tube down her throat until she vomited. This torture continued for weeks until finally word of the abuse was leaked to the press.

I bring up these gruesome details so that we will never forget what our ancestors went through to secure the rights that we often take for granted today. In the 2000 election, 20 million single women did not vote. I wonder if, had they heard this awful story, those women would not have been compelled to take 20 minutes out of one day to exercise their rights. Please, women, regardless of your political views, whether you have a son or daughter in Iraq now, or even if you think your vote doesn’t count, cast your vote on Nov. 2. It is our duty as women to use our votes to make our voices heard. We are the true majority in this country. We can make a difference at home, in our country and in the world.

— Beki Buchanan

Don’t exclude “church” from UDO

Your last issue reported my resistance to removing the word “church” from our city ordinances [Asheville City Council, Aug. 25]. While this report is true, it leaves the reader thinking that I oppose the new wording of “places of worship.”

I think all of your readers will not argue that both statements mean basically the same thing. My opposition to excluding the word “church” is not an attempt to discredit any other description of a place of worship. I simply do not see why the city ordinance should not read “church-places of worship.” In this politically correct world we now live in, why offend some folks by removing wording they feel is very important [and] replacing it with new wording, when [something] can be done to the exclusion of no one?

My comments about people worshiping trees was intended to show that there are various forms of worship. Some I agree with, and some I do not. These alternative forms of worship must be respected and protected under our Constitution. I respect that very basic right. I also feel that respect for older, traditional terms that are such a part of our country’s heritage are worth protecting as well.

One could argue that many symbols, traditions and values are being attacked from every side. I see this issue as one of those times. This will pass under the radar and will hardly be noticed by our citizens.

My feelings by now should be clear. What is wrong with leaving the word “church” in our ordinance, as well as “places of worship”? No one is excluded, and everyone is represented!

— Joe Dunn
City Council member

For whom the choppers toll

Can somebody explain why military helicopters kept many of us who live near downtown Asheville awake from about midnight until 2 a.m., in the wee hours of Friday, Aug. 20?

So far, the only explanations I have heard are from folks on the street. They told me that they observed Blackhawks landing in City/County Plaza, warehouse doors kicked in near Church Street, and booming explosions that sounded like concussion grenades. And they observed an unusually heavy presence of Asheville cops on the scene.

I don’t imagine that it was merely a dress rehearsal for the Downtown After Five security brigade, coordinated between the Asheville Police Department and Fort Bragg. But if you terrorize a working man’s sleep to spend his tax dollars, he’s bound to be a little curious, and I sure am.

— Tom Kerr

[Editor’s Note: Xpress is happy to answer your question in a related story.]

Get out of Denial

Having grown up in N.C. cotton land, not until I went to college at N.C. State a decade before John Edwards did I understand the vast wealth from tobacco Down East.

As an adult, when I quit smoking, I began to realize that one of the greatest N.C. export industries was death. It takes generations of mind-twisting to convince yourself that what you do for a living (that kills people daily) is an honorable career. The devil weed was so profitable to everyone on the supply side (growers, manufacturers, retailers, and taxes to local, state and federal governments), they kept the blinders securely in place for decades while the grim reaper cheered.

We knew how to live in Denial in the South long before psychologists gave it a name. In our heart of hearts, for generations we’ve known there’s money in killin’ people.

So, it was no surprise to native-born Southerners in red states when a hot-shot, pop-up cowboy from Texas plunged our nation into massive, collective denial. Halliburton and the cronies who made him president have long known there’s money in killin’ people.

As CEO [Dick] Cheney taught them, a world without a half-dozen wars going on isn’t a world worth having. They believe (although falsely) that there’s more profit in killin’ than in peace. (Unless, of course, the “peacemaking” is building back what the military-industrial complex was handsomely paid by taxpayers to destroy.)

Now that the Neocon cons own all the major news media, misdirection has become a high art form. Keeping the nation’s citizens in a perpetual, opiated state of denial guarantees that all wealth will flow in only one direction, upward, evermore upward, crimson red. Yes, the new color of wealth in America is blood red.

One of two things can happen to you if you live your life in Denial. You can romp and revel in the gross excesses of your lifestyle until you die, senselessly accumulating more than your fair share of the planet’s resources — in which case you have your special place in eternity’s plan to regret your choice.

Or, there’s the alternative — you can redeem yourself before you die by becoming a progressive, populist Democrat, thereby spending the rest of your life saving lost souls. Conversion requires immersion, in goodness.

Our [president] and his gang of dedicated death merchants are beyond redemption. But each of you know friends, neighbors and family members, voters who will thank you for eternity in the other place for converting them to sanity.

— Gene Messick

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