Letters to the editor

SCV portrayal was one-sided journalism

The article by [freelance] writer Jon Elliston [“Between Heritage and Hate,” Aug. 18] was one-sided journalism, poorly written and not well documented. It was an attack on the century-old Sons of Confederate Veterans based on the rantings of outcast SCV member Walter Hilderman of Eutawville, S.C. Hilderman, who has been an SCV member for two years only, has spent nearly the entire two years attacking the SCV in the press.

There was no attempt to get the other side of the story by interviewing the duly elected officers of the SCV. The recent national convention in Dalton, Ga., led to the election of Denne Sweeney of Dallas, Texas, and Anthony Hodges of Chattanooga, Tenn. Sweeney is a retired computer engineer, West Point graduate and Vietnam veteran. Dr. Hodges is a respected dentist in Chattanooga. Are these the racists and extremists Mr. Hilderman is talking about?

Mr. Hilderman never mentioned that [when refused convention admission] he was not a delegate and had not paid his registration fee, which would have gained him entrance. It is high time the media gives both sides of the story.

— Brag Bowling
SCV National Press Officer
Columbia, Tenn.

[Reporter Jon Elliston responds: I accurately reported what all of my sources, including SCV members on all sides, said and did. I cited the Web sites of Ron Wilson and Denne Sweeney, where both SCV commanders have made their positions quite clear. I also let Kirk Lyons — an SCV member whose close links to leading white supremacists didn’t stop the organization from recently granting his legal firm $20,000 — speak for himself.]

Consider veggie fuel for people

I attended and participated in the Southern Energy & Environment Expo, and was pleased to see so many people interested in learning what they can do to help the environment.

At Carolina Animal Action’s booth, we gave out numerous copies of E/The Environmental Magazine‘s excellent article, “The Case Against Meat” (January/February 2002, available in the archives at www.emagazine.com). Much data is available that quantifies the tremendous amount of resources wasted by cycling food through animals and eating their flesh, rather than eating the food directly. Many mainstream environmental groups have recognized that raising animals for food is detrimental to the environment, yet many people are still unaware of the facts. There is little talk about the topic in the media, and it was disappointing that the Mountain Xpress again failed to discuss this important aspect of environmentalism in its Expo coverage. About the only time you read about animals in the Xpress is in articles discussing how they taste.

For the “environmentalists” who insist on eating meat, I suggest an alternative to the wasteful raising of animals for food. Why not eat some of the over 5 million dogs and cats that are euthanized every year in America simply because they have no homes? Why send them to the landfill when they could provide millions of meals to those who can’t seem to shake the taste of flesh?

Of course, unless you believe that might makes right, there are ethical reasons to consider not eating animals. Take the time to learn about the horrific suffering that goes into the food on your plate, even “free-range.” Vegetarianism is better for human health, the environment and the animals.

For a free Vegetarian Starter Kit, go to www.GoVeg.com.

— Terri David
Vice-President, Carolina Animal Action
Asheville

Taylor and the “Big Lie”

In the 1950s, the War Department (now called Defense Department) was getting heavyweight budgets by frightening the country about nuclear bombs from Russia. Some neighbors built atomic-bomb shelters in their basements or back yards. Many, if not all, public schools in the country taught a required course on anti-communism.

We young students learned that communists were vicious, sneaky and wanted total power. Communists also believed in the “Big Lie,” that if you lied confidently enough and often enough, the lie became “truth.”

Recently I have seen professionally well-done TV ads repeatedly explain how my 11th District representative in the U.S. Congress is protecting our environment, and how he is helping education.

I very much want to change my representative, in part specifically because I feel he does not care about the environment — seen in his support of the “Healthy Forests Restoration Act,” which may better be called the “The Public National Forest Rape and Exploitation Improvement Act.” I want change, because my representative supports “No Child Left Behind” in public education (and not in private education, that I can see). That distorts curriculum, adds classroom teacher load and noticeable system requirements, while continuing serious, and possibly illegal, underfunding of education at the federal level.

Now on top of this, there is a matter of honesty about where my representative has really stood.

Interestingly, at the same time, one of the most consistently, scrupulously honest people I have met is a daughter of Patsy Keever. I think I understand part of the reason why. I also appreciate teacher Patsy Keever’s true lifelong commitment to education and her support of the environment here in Western North Carolina.

I am grateful to have an opportunity to support, and on Nov. 2 to vote for, Patsy Keever for U.S. House of Representatives.

— James Sheeler
Asheville

Looking for a strong(er) leader

On Sept. 14, President George Bush addressed a group of workers at the Twin Towers site. He made a good speech, but thousands of coaches could have delivered an equal or superior message. The Republican spin now is emphasizing his uniquely strong leadership skills, as if no other occupant of the White House would have the good sense and courage to wage war on the Al Qaeda. Preposterous! Strong leaders don’t:

1. Sit mute for 7 minutes in a classroom after being notified that “America is under attack.”

2. Let the Al Qaeda escape into Pakistan by not sending in troops to stop their escape when local warlords, who were paid to fight Osama Bin Laden, aborted their pursuit.

3. Make a “You’re with us or against us” foreign policy.

4. Misguide the public into believing Iraq had something to do with 9/11.

5. Say we are safer now, even though thousands of illegal aliens cross our borders daily. How many are terrorists?

6. Flip-flop on the Homeland Security Bill and 9/11 commission when it was obvious that opposing them would cost votes.

7. Allow administration members to “out” a CIA agent without “outing” them.

We need new leadership!

— Melinda Elkins
Asheville

Vote absentee — for a paper trail

There is no good time for a shady or flubbed election. But it’s hard to imagine a worse time than now.

Most of us have heard stories about electronic voting gone bad — software crashes, lost votes, vulnerability to hackers. The Florida GOP is so worried that they want Republicans in South Florida to vote absentee, on paper ballots. Poll workers in Wake County had to switch to paper in the 2002 general election after their machines failed to register more than 400 votes. We don’t think we’ve had a problem here yet. But how would we know for sure?

We don’t. Boards of elections do test their machines. And the systems they use are supposed to be certified. But all three national testing labs work for the manufacturers. The labs won’t release their findings to the public. And, most outrageously, there is virtually no governmental oversight or quality control.

The lack of a tangible record of votes cast electronically is a disaster waiting to happen. And it’s preventable. The manufacturers of touch-screen systems also make ATMs. They know how to print receipts. They could add printers to their voting machines. The system used in Nevada this fall will employ printers. Voters there will be able to see for whom they voted. A paper record will exist.

Paper trails are essential to the integrity of touch-screen voting. Until we have that, let’s take a cue from the Florida GOP and vote on paper, in mass numbers. In Buncombe County, call 250-4206, or stop by the [Board of Election’s] office on College Street to request an absentee ballot application.

This isn’t a partisan issue. We don’t have to settle for touch-screen systems that aren’t ready for prime time.

Wouldn’t it be nice if it were this easy to fix the defective candidate problem?

— Michael Hopping
Asheville

Defend your intelligence and fight back

Will we voters rise out of the squalor in which Bush and Company are forcing us to wallow as we experience their idea of political campaigning? I, for one, am not as naive, ignorant, fearful, passive, intolerant, hateful and cruel as they seem to think I am. I will not permit such an attack on my intelligence and character. I will fight back.

— Jane Carroll
Black Mountain

Four months doesn’t equal 20 years

We have just one question. Since when does just four months in Vietnam make someone qualified to be our commander in chief? We wish your readers would think about that for a while and then look at all [Sen. John Kerry’s] votes in the Senate for the last 20 years, when he has been so inconsistent on most issues, but consistent when it comes to our defense. He is totally anti-military and anti-intelligence, demonstrated by his no votes in the Senate.

— Mel and Renee Riedl
Hendersonville

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