Letters to the editor

Dunn will oppose this fuzzy-wuzzy arts project

I am outraged at the presentation given at the recent Asheville City Council meeting on a proposal to build a performing arts center.

I thought the looting in New Orleans was bad, but the proposed looting of taxpayers and tourists is more repugnant as it is to be done lawfully, with the greatest of stealth and with the promise of furthering a legacy of public plunder.

To so blithely suggest that “we the people” quietly and cheerfully submit to further confiscation of our private property (money) in order to fund the latest multimillion-dollar, fuzzy-wuzzy arts project is the height of arrogance and of disrespect for the achievers in this community, who are perennially called upon to finance the whimsy of society’s parasites.

Where is the private sector on this matter? Will this publicly funded project be put to a vote by the citizens who will pay the tab? Who will insure the city’s exposure to risk? Will this project cite any constitutional authority allowing the city to transfer wealth from those who have earned it to those who have not — and indeed, cannot? The mind reels.

I am thankful that we have a representative like Dr. Joe Dunn to stand between the tax producers, and the tax consumers with their fanciful pipe dreams. Thank you, Dr. Dunn, for all that you do. And I hope you will be given the opportunity to continue your campaign of sanity as Asheville’s new mayor.

— Tim Peck

Auction off the Civic Center

I was disappointed with your Civic Center survey, mostly because my views — as well as Chad Nesbitt’s — were not among the possible choices, so I can only relate them here.

Mass entertainment is not a human need and is therefore not the business of government. The Civic Center property should therefore be auctioned off to the highest bidder, without height restriction, and [should] not [be] replaced. I can only guess at what the buyer would do with the property, but my guess is that they would build high-rise condominiums — probably after tearing the existing structure down, but possibly above it. Condominiums, especially when new, may often be more luxurious than necessary, but they are still fundamentally human needs, unlike civic centers. Hotels, which Katrina demonstrates are also human needs, should not be taxed for such fluff.

The auction proceeds should be used for contraception, perhaps through the existing high school health clinic, [in order] to reduce class size. Unlike contraception, mass entertainment is not the purview of municipal government.

— Alan Ditmore

Your history flew off course

The article sidebar “History on the Fly” by Alli Marshall in the Sept. 14 edition of the Mountain Xpress was riddled with an unusual number of errors. I am sure I am not the the only person writing with corrections. The Israeli/Palestinian situation must be dealt with in a sensitive manner, and fortunately it seems that Ms. Marshall was ecumenical in her mistakes, for she managed to garble facts relating to both sides of the conflict. I was pleased that she took such an evenhanded tone, despite the astounding errors in her article.

The most jaw-dropping mistake was in the last line of her piece: “Last month, the final Jewish settlement in the West Bank was demolished, allowing for the transfer of the land to Palestinian control.” It was Gaza, not the West Bank, that was emptied of Jewish settlers. Anyone who has watched five minutes of CNN or read the front page of a newspaper in the last few months would know that it is the Gaza Strip that is now under Palestinian control. The West Bank is still full of Jewish settlers.

There were goofs in virtually every line of this article. Ms. Marshall wrote: “Egypt and Syria trounced Israel on Yom Kippur in 1973, but only managed to capture a small amount of territory.” Actually, Egypt and Syria did attack Israel on Yom Kippur in 1973, but Israel trounced them! Israel reversed the small territorial gains initially made by Egypt and Syria on their attack, and then captured even more Egyptian and Syrian land. It was a humiliating defeat for Israel’s enemies, and one that is acknowledged in every account of modern Middle Eastern history … .

She also writes: “In 2000, Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights remained unresolved.” In 2005 (today), the Golan Heights situation remains unresolved. Did she merely lift this line from a text written in 2000 without checking to see if the situation had changed? How unprofessional.

I will spare you the rest of my line-by-line critique, but I beg you — please check your facts before printing! The Mountain Xpress is a wonderful local paper, but it should hold its writers to higher standards. This article was laughably sloppy journalism. The Mountain Xpress and its readers deserve better.

— Rachel Arnold

[Editor’s note: The writer is correct that Xpress erred in stating that it was the West Bank (instead of Gaza) that was recently emptied of Jewish settlers. We apologize for the error, and we thank the readers who took time to both correct us and further enhance the brief history we presented. Read on.]

Missing a few facts

As someone deeply and personally engaged on both sides of the tragic Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I found the sidebar to Alli Marshall’s article [“Gimme Shelter,” Sept. 14] bizarre.

Her “History on the Fly” is clearly biased and inaccurate. For example: “Israel, with the help of the U.S. and France, nabbed the Egyptian-controlled Gaza strip in 1956 — and was forced to return it.”

Seriously? “Nabbed” the strip? With the help of the U.S.?

As an example of revisionist history — and the lack of simple fact-checking — the sentence is unique. In October 1956, Egypt blockaded the Gulf of Aqaba, closed the Suez Canal to Israeli shipping and nationalized the Canal. Israel invaded Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula and reopened the Canal. France and the UK were undoubtedly Israel’s behind-the-scenes allies in this effort. The United States did not help, but in fact forced the withdrawal of these armies.

The 1967 “preemptive strike” Alli writes about is, of course, the Six-Day War. It is a war that started with the combined Arab armies massing on Israel’s borders after Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran and ordered the United Nations out of the area. Israel recaptured Jerusalem and the West Bank after Jordan elected to join the Arab forces in the war designed to eradicate the state of Israel.

Finally, to say “Egypt and Syria trounced Israel on Yom Kippur in 1973 … ” puts a unique spin on a bloody and unsuccessful attack on Israel on the Day of Atonement. Within three weeks, Israel recaptured all lost territories and drove deep into Egypt, surrounding the remnants of the retreating Egyptian forces.

Ellen O’Grady’s work, which was the ostensible subject of Alli Marshall’s story, is touching and powerful. The story of this Middle East conflict is filled with horrors and injustice. It is impossible not to feel compassion for the suffering of innocents on both sides, but to choose sides in this way obscures reality. Suicide bombers and the conditions of occupation and religious fanaticism that breed them are both evil, as we’ve learned from our own direct experience since September 2001.

Rewriting history this way is a bit like those Rambo movies that showed the United States smashing Vietnamese forces. It’s not true, and it’s not useful.

— Gene Senyak

Article lacked balance

Thank you for your book review of Ellen Grady’s Outside of the Ark. We attended her presentation and asked her a few questions.

Our concern is the lack of balance in your highlights of the history of Israel and Palestine [“History on the Fly,” Sept. 14].

First, the United Nations approved the creation of separate Jewish and Arab states in Palestine in 1947, leaving an independent Jerusalem. The Arab and Muslim states rejected this proposal.

Second, when the Jews of Palestine inaugurated the state of Israel in 1948, all of the surrounding Arab states invaded Israel, including the bombing of Tel Aviv.

Third, in 2000, the Israeli government, under Prime Minister Barak, offered a separate Palestinian state in Gaza and 97 percent of the West Bank with a Palestinian presence in Jerusalem (including the Arab Quarter and the Temple Mount), but the Palestinian government, under Yasser Arafat, rejected the offer and left the negotiations.

Fourth, for most of the period 1947-2000, the Palestinian government refused to recognize the right of Israel to exist as a separate state. Many of the Palestinian school books deny the legitimate existence of the state of Israel.

Fifth, you talk about Israeli actions that “really peeved the Muslims” and about “Jewish extremists,” but you failed to mention the Palestinian suicide bombings of Jewish civilians throughout the state of Israel.

Yes, we are Jewish and have children in Jerusalem. We also support the Peace Now movement of Israeli and American Jews to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians.

— Janet and Tony Joseph

Props for the tattoo progenitors

The blurb published Sept. 14 [“Tattoo Town”] makes it seem as though this is a breakthrough idea that has never been done before, but it has. I first came to town in 1998. In November 1999, I was hired to photograph a live tattoo-art show at Tressa’s on Broadway. The theme was Florals. Master chocolatier John Lewis catered the event, and Perry filled the space with sensual flower arrangements that echoed the tattoo art borne on the skin of some 15 models — put there by renowned tattoo artist and creator of the Lexington Avenue Arts Festival, Kitty Brown.

I was impressed by the style and high concept the show possessed, and being recently from Boston, could see that show happening anywhere along Newbury Street. It was cosmopolitan.

The following year, the same cast of characters staged a second such show, this time on a very popular theme among art lovers — Art Nouveau. Many of the tattoos displayed at both shows were given to the wearers in exchange for their being present to show [them] off in revealing garments made by Asheville Hemp. Still later, at what became the Asheville Community Resource Center, another themed show was put together with a focus on Gods and Goddesses.

I’m not saying that the recent show at Gypsy Moon wasn’t great; I’m sure it was. But I’ve been in Asheville long enough to know many of the progenitors of some of the best ideas that the Asheville arts scene has produced. They are my friends, and they deserve “props” from those who come after.

— Alexander Thompson

Council needs a consensus builder

Shortly after moving to Haw Creek in 1999, I attended a community association meeting. There I had the good fortune to meet Chris Pelly. Chris was president of the Haw Creek Community Association for nine years. During that time, he was instrumental in the opening of Haw Creek Park on property that was originally to be used for an apartment complex. The developers built apartments across the street, and the community got a new park paid for partly by the city and partly by funds raised in Haw Creek. Chris has spearheaded efforts to fund sidewalks in the community and to strengthen the animal-control ordinance. He is currently president of the Coalition of Asheville Neighborhoods (CAN).

Chris is a consensus builder. We need to elect individuals to Council who are able to balance development and neighborhood issues. Chris creates win/win situations where there is conflict. His skills would have been useful during the water agreement fiasco this past summer. Chris has been a community leader for many years. On City Council he will help all the citizens of Asheville. Please vote for Chris Pelly in the Oct. 11 primary and the Nov. 8 general election.

— Beth Jezek

Don’t just sit there

What do Sen. Barack Obama and upstart Ohio congressional candidate Paul Hackett have in common with Asheville’s City Council candidates Holly Jones, Robin Cape and Bryan Freeborn? Each of them are stand-up Democrats supported by the national grassroots political-action committee Democracy for America (www.democracyforamerica.com). In addition, Asheville’s DFA group has endorsed Holly Jones, Robin Cape and Bryan Freeborn.

Among a talented field of candidates, we believe our endorsed candidates will bring our city the important DFA principles of government accountability, transparency and fiscal responsibility, combined with a commitment to a sustainable, healthy future that includes social and economic justice for every citizen.

Please don’t sit out the Oct. 11 primary and Nov. 8 general election for Asheville’s City Council race — too much is at stake. Learn more about our endorsed candidates, and then vote: www.freebornasheville.com, www.robinforasheville.com and www.hollyjonesasheville.com.

— Anne Walch
Co-Chair, Asheville DFA

When horror turns the tide

There have been some incredible stories about the Katrina disaster, like the woman who was the only one left alive in a room of 30 others all dead of thirst, relating that FEMA flew over and just waved — no food or water. Every story has the bitter finish of a job poorly done, of disgrace. Bottom line, it was a natural disaster that was allowed to mushroom into an unnatural catastrophe.

Now, with all the accumulation of lies, the Bush crime family has us living in a horror show. The common people of America are heartbroken that in this day and age we have to take up the slack for a bunch of dangerous slackers who line their pockets. The Bush crime family must be impeached, and a Senate and a House that cares about their service to the people of America is the only way to get our country back. We should have federal campaign funds, and media fairness. Be still my heart.

No, we can’t let Bill Frist run the next “commission” to find out “what didn’t go right.” The good it will do will be in the history books, along with more than just a mention of patriot Cindy Sheehan and hopefully Barack Obama as a leader, when the horror turns the tide.

— Laurie Scheid
Bat Cave

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