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War with Iraq

Government deceives our valiant troops

After attending a recent peace rally at Caras Park, I walked onto the Higgins Avenue Bridge and noticed four women holding signs indicating support for our troops. Feeling it was a perfect moment for an idea exchange, I walked over and greeted the women. I tried to get their opinions on our government's use of our troops in this war, but they would not listen to me or even talk to me except to yell at me to go away and that they were not interested in anything I had to say. My heart hurts still.

I do support our troops. I am thankful that there are courageous men and women who choose to defend this country. However, I especially feel for these men and women now, because I believe they are being deceived and misused. They were recruited with promises of a great career, funding for college, and the honor of keeping our country free and safe. They were told that this war was for the liberation of the Iraqi people and the removal of a regime that was a threat to us. Our government said nothing about the administration's greed for oil. They did not mention the horrors that would be inflicted upon civilians from the imprecision of the bombs that were meant to hit only military installations.

And what about the government's denial of the existence of Gulf War Syndrome, caused by chemical and biological weapons used by our forces? The U.S. never warned the troops that they were using bombs tipped with depleted uranium, a radioactive heavy metal. And recently, the House voted to slash veterans' benefits - how is this support of our troops?

This is what I wanted to discuss with the women on the bridge. By all means - support our troops. Support them by raising awareness in the general public.

Rebecca E. Richter,

23 Virginia Drive, Missoula

Voice of peace was welcome viewpoint

Thank you, Missoulian editors, for sharing with your readers Colman McCarthy's thoughts on TV coverage of the war with Iraq. As you note above the article: "TV networks offer multiple military experts, but lack dissenting voices."

This Opinion page article on April 24 was also in my current issue of The National Catholic Reporter, which I have been reading for the past 20 years.

McCarthy has been a frequent contributor to this paper. His thoughts on peaceful resolution of problems, and non-violence, are welcome antidotes for much current thinking and acting. Asked why he doesn't give "the other side" of the debate on war, he replied that that side has many voices, but "teaching peace" has relatively few. So he directs the Center for Teaching Peace and teaches courses on non-violence at six Washington-area universities and high schools. Your use of this peacemaker's thoughts adds balance to the Missoulian's comments on the current conflict.

John Carbin,

P.O. 576, Stevensville

Try a little tenderness

Today, a friend directed me to an Internet thank-you note to all our military personnel. I signed it and sent the link to my friends. Ironically, I do not support this war. My friend knows this, yet he does not confuse my antiwar sentiments with nonsupport of our troops. I commend him for this understanding.

Antiwar activists do support our troops. Most of us simply believe that the best way we can support our troops is to decry a war that has not been properly justified by our government in the hopes of bringing our military personnel home as soon as possible. This is called democracy. It should not be construed as seditious or treasonous activity.

Believe me; I am very thankful for the freedom to have and to voice my opinion. Unfortunately, my husband and I were recently harassed for our opinion by complete strangers, via an anonymous note left on our car. My husband is a Gulf War veteran, my father was a fighter pilot in Vietnam, and my daughter just graduated basic training. I do not need strangers reminding me of the sacrifices made to secure a free America. I do want to enjoy the right to my opinion without being harassed and without accusations of being unpatriotic.

Friends, let us be tender and patient with each other right now. We are all suffering from high emotions and tension because of this war, no matter what our stance happens to be. Let us strive to not allow anyone (the media, the administration, whomever) to drive a wedge between us with words designed for that purpose.

May God bless the world and bring this war to a close soon, before any more lives, American or Iraqi, are lost. Thank our troops at http://www.defendamerica.mil/nmam.html.

Amy M. Holtz,

4848 Audrey Court, Missoula

First Amendment

Subtle sarcasm may have been missed

I certainly enjoyed Steve Nardi's satire regarding the First Amendment in the April 14 Missoulian, where he notes that "There is no room for any type of speech that goes against the government and popular opinion," and he applauds "the university, the Missoulian and NBC for standing up for us true Americans who don't believe in all of this so-called 'freedom of speech' nonsense."

I believe, however, that his parody may have been an order of magnitude too subtle for many readers, who probably took it seriously. Had he changed one word, when he said that "We Republicans have been trying to send a message to those liberal administrators at the university for years by cutting off their funding Š," his satire would have been perfect. He need only have changed the word "Republicans" to "Neo-Nazis."

Michael Stockhill,

600 Rocky Point Road, Polson

Robbins got censored, period

It seems the Missoulian harbors some illusions about free speech in its April 21 attack against actor Tim Robbins and his "widely reported and replayed" speech before the National Press Club. As reported earlier in the Missoulian, Robbins made it clear that his Baseball Hall of Fame appearance was not to be used as a soapbox for his political views. As reported earlier in the Missoulian, despite Baseball Hall of Fame president Dale Petrovskey justifying canceling Robbins' appearance in order to keep politics out of a baseball commemoration, he had in fact invited presidential Press Secretary Ari Fleischer to speak last year precisely to hear Fleischer's political views.

Contrary to the Missoulian editorial, functioning free speech is very much about opportunity to air one's views, more so than ever in a country where newspapers, radio and television stations and channels are increasingly coming under control of fewer and fewer powerful mega-corporations. The First Amendment guarantee to free speech means diddly if in a technologically advanced society dissenters are censored by fiat: pre-emptive strikes, as it were, against unwanted free speech.

In addition to censorship, another tactic is character attack. The Missoulian serves that cause by calling Robbins' speech "rantings" from a "whiny" actor, and then in an amazing doublespeak Orwell would be proud of, turns the victim into aggressor by claiming Robbins denies others freedom of speech to criticize when they speak up to pre-empt his own!

OK: This "widely reported and replayed speech" was replayed in entirety only on C-SPAN. The speech is, in fact, reasoned and thoughtful. Why doesn't the anonymous editorialist put his money where his mouthpiece is and reprint Robbins' speech - which he obviously believes is newsworthy enough to pen an editorial - and let readers judge the merit of the speech for themselves?

Ron Scholl,

230 Mount Ave., Missoula

MRA funds

Let's have our own 'Marshall Plan'

First of all, I would like to endorse the letter to the editor by Marjorie Dula (Missoulian, March 13). She suggested to the Missoula City Council and city of Missoula that instead of giving an additional million dollars to the baseball stadium, to give the million to Marshall Mountain.

Indeed, Marshall does provide affordable recreation for thousands of people. I think the Doerings have done a wonderful job improving the area. I taught skiing at Marshall during the 1970s and my children learned to ski there. I had knee replacement surgery in 200, and in 2001-2002, I took advantage of the two-hour skiing special that Marshall offers. I found that I experienced too much pain to enjoy downhill skiing. In March this year I again decided to try alpine skiing - and hallelujah! - pain free. I would never have spent $30-plus to give skiing another try. Thank you, Bruce, for your innovative programs. It is great to be skiing again. It has always nice to ski for a couple of hours and still work half a day. I am sure there are other folks out there with stories of how Marshall Mountain has benefited their families - let's hear them!

Cathy Ream,

15506 Kendall Creek Road, Clinton

n Laci Peterson

Two, count them, TWO, murders

Scott Peterson has been arraigned on murder charges for his wife, Laci Peterson. I understand they may be charging him with the death of their son, Conner, who was born after Christmas. The charge would be correct with the taking of two lives.

We know it is a life as many preemies have survived - some arrived three months before they were due. Yet we allow partial-birth abortions. The baby is being born and when is half out of the birth canal we kill it.

What is the difference between what Peterson is charged with and what and what we allow abortionists to do? Talk about a contradiction of the law. It is not OK to kill a fetus, as in the Peterson case, but OK when a woman wants an abortion. When is it a baby (or human being)? The laws should treat babies the same. Should all preemies be discarded because they are not yet a person? Or should we not be killing babies who have gone full term? Just because someone doesn't want them, we kill them. No wonder our young people are growing up confused about what is right and what is wrong.

Nancy G. Coles,

P.O. Box 400, St. Regis

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