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Reader Feedback 5.28.03 

Debating the war, fighting the tests, enjoying the fest

Defending the war

In regard to your response to Mr. Pritchard in the May 7 issue: Many of your statements are without merit.

                  First: The war was not a violation of the UN Charter and other international agreements. The UN Charter allows for self defense. And the prior UN resolution, passed without dissent, stated that Iraq either had to disclose and give up all weapons of mass destruction or be forced to. Further resolutions were stopped by France and some other nations that were acting to protect their own financial interests.

                  Second, the United Nations has no real power or authority. The only time the UN ever acted with force was with Korea, when the Russian did not attend the meeting. For the last decade and a half, the only force to send troops to prevent "ethnic cleansing" was led by the US.

                  Based on what reasoning do you think that if the US was "pure of thought," Saddam would have "vanished"? Your usual dream-world thinking where everyone in the world would be sweet little lambs if the US fell off the face of the planet?

                  Yes, in the '80s we gave aid to Iraq to stop Iran, which was holding Americans as hostages. That, unfortunately, is international politics. It is unpleasant, but in a world full of Saddams and other dictators it is necessary.

                  As to your claim that the first Gulf War was "unjust": I assume you felt it was "just" for Saddam to invade and capture Kuwait. And as I recall, you and others claimed that America fought only so that it could control oil. That was proven a lie when we did not take control of the oil fields or even cross over into Iraq.

                  The bulk of Iraq cultural heritage was moved before the war by Saddam. Your concern for the one or two thousand dead people would be a lot more believable if you showed a tenth of that concern for the one or two million civilians Saddam murdered and gassed.

                  If, as you claim, anyone who supports such a mission is culpable to some degree, I and most Americans are only too happy to claim that honor. It is you and the "blame America for the problems of the world" extreme left that we are ashamed of.

                  As for your statement that we should consider the death of enemy soldiers as bad as the death of an American: This is the most unrealistic statement of all.

                  You described those who supported the war as "Chicken Hawks"; by the same logic, you can be described as a die-hard supporter of Saddam. And you can be described as supporting the murder of one to two million Iraqi civilians, the gassing and murder of God knows how many Iranians and Kuwaitis, the removal of Iraqis' human rights for a quarter-century, and the support of international terrorism.

                  John Cook, Pine Knoll Drive, Rochester

                  Jack Bradigan Spula responds: For brevity's sake: A good primer on the UN Charter in this context is an essay by Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights, "War Crime, Not Self-Defense: The Unlawful War Against Iraq," available via Among the many media reports on US support of Saddam Hussein's war against Iran is a fine one by Julian Borger in The Guardian (UK), December 31, 2002; Borger uses declassified US documents to describe events from 1983-1988, a period well after the US hostages were freed. The anti-war movement and journalists like me are very much concerned about human suffering; visit the American Friends Service Committee,, for pertinent information. The "Chicken Hawks" are the administration officials and legislators who pushed for war but never were in combat themselves; a web search will turn up plenty on this crew.

Test trauma

One week earlier this month, students in grades 1 through 6 in elementary schools in Rochester spent approximately one to two hours daily completing standardized tests in math and reading. In addition to missing their regular instruction for that time, many students also missed music, art, gym, or library.

                  These tests are often overwhelming to even very capable students; they add considerable stress to children's lives and provide little, if any, useful instructional information. Teachers typically don't receive results until the following September, and the scores are reported in very general terms. Prior to taking these tests, students spent anywhere from one to several weeks practicing to take them, again significant amounts of direct instruction lost.

                  Meanwhile, in Fairport instruction continued as always. There were no crying first graders, no angry and resentful fourth graders, no defeated fifth graders. No added stress placed on already vulnerable children. No teachers caught in that terrible position between fulfilling the demands of the system and doing the right thing for children.

                  Fairport certainly does assess student performance and growth, as should all schools. They do hold teachers and students accountable and measure them against a common standard. They just don't use standardized tests that at best are questionable uses of educational resources and at worst border on the unethical treatment of children.

                  Surely the children of Rochester deserve the same opportunities and consideration as the children of Fairport.

                  Paula Hansen, Selborne Chase, Fairport (Hansen is a teacher at Rochester School 20.)

Buddha praise

I am a longtime Buddhahood fan, and I know City has given them plenty of coverage over the years. But in the May 17 music listings, how could you possibly give a star (City's Choice) to the Peachee Neitzches over the Buddhahood-Hypnotic Clambake show? The Peachees are good people, but how could you suggest torturing unsuspecting music lovers like that?

                  I know, I know, in the grand scheme of things... but have you seen the Buddhahood lately? They are a 10-piece now. Granted, they sort of out-played themselves in this town a few years back, but they are much better and different, with new songs and new players, including Andrew Bellavia, formerly of Yolk, on sax and flute.

                  The belly dancers in all of the shows are no slouches, either.

                  Jake Pewter, Manhattan Square, Rochester

We survived!

Well, George Thorogood has come and gone and Highland Bowl and the surrounding neighborhood are still standing.

                  Despite arguments against paid admission (and what a great deal it was) at a festival that permits the hawking of chiropractic care, satellite dish systems and pots and pans, a well-behaved audience, made up of people of all ages, enjoyed a great afternoon. No fights, no drunks wandering around adjoining streets, and no mountains of trash collecting on neighborhood lawns.

                  I cannot understand the almost hysterical resistance to such a benign, feel-good event. Evidently a few people who purchased property next to the park feel that 99.9 percent of county taxpayers require their forbearance to have an opportunity to utilize the park.

                  Hey, it's only seven hours out of their lives: Attend an ice cream social or something, and move on.

                  Richard Noack, Meigs Street, Rochester

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