I was appalled by Jack Bradigan Spula's comments in response to the letter from Stephanie Aldersley in the April 16 issue. To characterize the brave service men and women putting their lives at risk in Iraq as "gung ho" and deserving of criticism for carrying out orders marginalizes Jack and City Newspaper to the point of being irrelevant when it comes to serious public debate on the war.
As I watched seven POWs return to the US over the weekend, I was filled with pride. They are not the "youngsters" they were so condescendingly referred to but courageous soldiers who faced life and death so that this newspaper will continue to have the right to call for their prosecution as war criminals, as misguided and inaccurate as that charge is.
As for the war in Iraq, we accomplished in three weeks what 12 years of sanctions and hand wringing by the UN could not --- the end to an oppressive and murderous regime. Perhaps issues of this newspaper should be sent over to the newly freed Iraqi people. Let them read your view on this "immoral and unjust war" against Saddam Hussein. That would give them the opportunity to use their newfound freedom of speech and expression and share with you how they feel about being freed from tyranny and given a chance at a much better life.
Bill Pritchard, Broadway, Rochester
Jack Bradigan Spula responds: Pritchard misread my response. I didn't say the troops are uniformly "gung ho." I said many of them are enthusiastically carrying out a mission that violates the UN Charter and other international agreements. And I pointed out that anyone who supports such a mission is culpable to some degree.
Saddam probably would have vanished long ago if the US and its "coalition partners" had more peaceable goals in the Middle East. Anyway, the US habitually shows little compassion for Saddam's victims. Washington supported the dictator in the 1980s while he committed his worst atrocities. In the 1990s the US fought an unjust war that killed Iraqis by the thousands. Now US leaders have killed and maimed thousands more, allowed the destruction of Iraq's cultural heritage, and plotted to install a puppet regime. Any surprise that our welcome wears thinner by the hour?
I wish our paper could reach the ca. 2,000 Iraqi civilians killed by "coalition" forces (see www.iraqbodycount.net), not to mention the many dead and wounded civilians in Afghanistan, and those who'll die in the next country Bush targets. But let's not talk only of civilians: We should have as much compassion for "enemy" soldiers as for our own. To some degree they're all victims of the Chicken Hawks' war.
Watching City Hall employees eagerly grab your paper for two years, I decided to read it. I read the April 16 issue and found it very interesting. I especially like the free stuff I can get with coupons and the coming events section --- but I didn't like the communist stuff.
Don Bloom, Wolff Street, Rochester
I am greatly dismayed, to say the least, to read about the firing of Tanya Smolinsky, program director of the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley, by the executive director, Chuck Bowen ("Path of the Rainbow," April 16).
I've known Tanya for several years through various groups held at the GAGV, as well as some volunteer work I've done, and I can honestly say she is a very compassionate and competent leader. She knows how to hold a group and enthrall its members while simultaneously maintaining order. She is very energetic, inspiring, and deeply passionate toward the cause of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals.
I feel that not only has the GAGV lost an excellent leader, but the GLBT community at large has as well, as the quoted statement of a former GAGV board member bears out.
Robert Ralph Reed, Dewey Avenue, Rochester
In the last few issues of City Newspaper, there have been several major stories regarding big issues affecting the Rochester area. I was very interested in the articles addressing the problem of the transit center and everyone's lack of cooperation ("Street Fight," March 26), and the issue of the performing arts center ("Desperately Seeking Wow," April 23).
Kudos to City Newspaper for the stories on the never-ending tumult of city and county governments. It needs to be revealed what this area is missing out on.
While I don't have a three-million-dollar answer to the problems, keep the stories coming. People need to know what they are doing to our community.
Phillip J. Butler, Grecian Gardens Drive, Greece
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