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Thursday, July 22,2010

Letters | Musings on letters

Musings on letters

Alan Bloom’s letter in your July 15 issue accurately describes the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center as irrelevant (“Peace center is irrelevant”). The Boulder address, I think, undermines its mission. Beyond that, the good Mr. Bloom’s simplistic, meaningless rhetoric (“...Ronald Reagan’s defeat of the Soviet Union...”) undermines his sarcasm.

But let us not overlook the gem that follows from one Tawn Orthalek from Grosse Point Shores, Mich., who’s convinced that Obama “wishes to destroy capitalism ...” (“Obama vs. Capitalism”). Fascinating. But if you really wanted to destroy capitalism, wouldn’t you just let it run its course?

Doug Richards/Eldorado Springs

Chamber is wrong

(Re: “Chamber opposes ‘Big Bad 3,’” News briefs, July 8.) Some observations about the anti-taxpayer announcement in the “Briefs” section.

Taxpayers will take it in the “briefs” if they heed the chamber of commerce opposition to pro-taxpayer ballot issues 60, 61 and 101. Issue 101 alone will save average families $500 a year, documented at Are you going to let some selfish “suits” talk you out of your tax relief?

Why did the Denver Chamber spend $500,000 to keep you from enjoying a $10 car registration fee, instead of the $70 or $90 you’re paying now, which just doubled without voter approval?

How much will your prices at stores increase to repay the $1.5 million the opposition has raised so far? See the Opposition Funding link at the above website, revealing $50,000 donations from a bank in Spain, a financial house in Canada, a law firm in Nebraska, an investment bank in Missouri, etc., etc.

The fiscal impact is less than 2 percent of total state and local government spending, which the U.S. Census has calculated as over $50 billion yearly. How does a slower rate of future growth destroy the state? Is it bad for you to have more money to spend? No. Is it bad for the economy? No.

The alleged “loss” (tax savings) in Boulder from passage of the issues has doubled in the past month. How old were you when you learned people will lie to you to get your money? Now, which side in this campaign wants your money? Not us — we want you to keep more of it.

These measures are not “draconian,” a reference to Count Dracula. Our side does not have the blood-sucking parasee sites in this campaign. Furthermore, the tax relief is not “very extreme,” but is phased in over four to ten years, unlike government’s tax increases, which fully hit us overnight.

What was the secret political payoff to get Big Business to oppose tax relief for the little guy?

We wish your free advertising for opponents had mentioned our website — — as well as theirs. “Fair and balanced” — what a concept!

Thanks! Natalie Menten/Lakewood

(Editor’s note: The origins of the term “draconian” have nothing to do with Count Dracula. The word is an adjective that references the harsh code of laws promulgated by Draco, the first lawgiver of ancient Athens.)

White guilt redux

This letter is being written in response to Sue Anderson’s letter, printed in the July 8 Boulder Weekly (“Not guilty”). Her letter was in response to Pamela White’s article about white guilt in the previous issue (“White guilt,” Uncensored, July 1). Dear Sue: In your letter, you admit your privileged status as a white woman and state, “How is it that since I have this life, I should consequently consider myself racist? I don’t get it.” I am writing today to help you “get it,” as I believe your question to be sincere and not merely rhetorical.

First of all, racism is, by Webster’s definition, institutional. This means that while a person of color living in the United States may very well be bigoted, it is literally impossible for them to be racist, by definition.

You state that your first experience of racism was in college. Well, that says a lot right there. I remember the first time I was socialized with African Americans (in 1976) in the first grade: I was telling my classmate that she was brown, and she was quite insistent that she was black. I had no notion of the significance of this color debate. My point is that at 6 years of age, she already knew the ugly face of racism and what it would or could mean for her for the rest of her life. People like you and me (I am white) might be quite a bit older before we are directly challenged by bigotry.

One of the primary attributes of white privilege is to be ignorant that you are privileged, or to remain ignorant of the degree of your (our) privilege. Another attribute of that privilege is to deal with the topic when you feel like it, not necessarily as part of daily living.

You further state that white people are responsible for “creating millions of jobs” and that “Washington, Jefferson and that noble group of white guys are going down.” Your ignorance would be laughable if it weren’t so sad. Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner until the day he died! Had you, as a woman of any color, been alive in his time, you would have been well aware that you were a second-class citizen with no right to vote or do much else in determining your future.

As for creating millions of jobs, what usually happens is white industrialists steal land from earth-based agrarians, pushing them to un-farm-able places, while spreading the economy of dollars (as opposed to an earth-based existence). Having been aggressively pushed off the land of their ancestors, these same people are then forced to work in the white man’s factory(s) or industrial farms in order to survive. The aforementioned group of “noble white guys” became expert at doing this with native American Indians; their descendants are doing it to this day all around the world.

Sue, I thank you for writing and creating an opportunity to respond, for I believe your perspective is probably that of the majority of white Americans. I had a perspective similar to yours for a number of years. I am a professional drummer. I earn the bulk of my income playing African rhythms and hand drums. From African Americans of all ages, incomes, and locales, I have encountered a variety of responses to my endeavors, and that is perhaps material better shared at another time.

But my point is that were I to continue, in integrity, on the path I’ve been on for some 20 years now, I would have to do some reading, as well as a lot of listening. So before you or anyone who shares your perspective takes the time to respond, I would like to suggest some reading: A People’s History of The United States by Howard Zinn, The Making of a Slave by Wille Lynch, and a short 20-minute video The Story of Stuff. These sources contain a wealth of information that our whitewashed “education” conveniently managed to overlook.

Scott Parker Mast/Boulder

What do Pamela White’s editorial of July 1 and Sue Anderson’s rebuttal of July 7 have in common? They both stifle the conversation about race by conflating guilt with responsibility. Anderson’s defensive and angry reaction is the predictable outcome of White’s moralizing that, even if individual white people do not perpetrate racist acts or experience racist feelings, they should still individually feel bad. As always, the debate stalls right there. White’s laudable intention of starting a dialogue ends with one harsh riposte, and silence again descends. Those who choose to feel “white guilt” can retreat into the satisfying illusion (common in Boulder) that feelings alone will accomplish something. Those who reject “white guilt” can retreat into the satisfying illusion (common in other parts of Colorado) that, because they personally have nothing to be ashamed of, they also have no responsibility for racial inequality in America.

How about if we try something different and drop our obsessive focus on the feelings, good or bad, of white people? Guilt and remorse are important steps in the reconciliation of individual bad acts, but shame is a poor motivator of public policy discussions.

On the other hand, a sense of responsibility is a good motivator. As citizens of a (barely) functioning democracy, each citizen is responsible for how that democracy works, whether we voted for those in power or not. If our society suffers from unequal access to education, jobs, health care, and other public goods, we are all responsible, whatever our skin color happens to be. Our discussion about how to fix racial inequalities would be significantly empowered if we were not required to debate, as a threshold issue, whether we ought to feel personal shame about them.

John Tweedy/Boulder

End oil dependence

The British Petroleum oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has made us realize that we need to invest in solutions that provide safe, convenient and low-carbon transportation choices for all American citizens. The Livable Communities Act, introduced by Sen. Dodd, would invest in local projects that would provide lowcarbon options and would reduce our independence on oil and improve public health. Please encourage your senators to co-sponsor this bill.

Carole Mock/Lafayette

The high price of higher ed

Education is not free nor should it be. As a Colorado high school teacher, I see our next generation of college students in the classroom every day. I hear their aspirations and their dreams for college. I also see those dreams drift away due to the ever-increasing cost of higher education.

I am Robert Bishop-Cotner, “BC” for short. I am a teacher, and I am running for CU Regent in Colorado’s 4th Congressional District. My goal is to ensure that more Coloradoans have the opportunity to reach for their dreams of learning for life through higher education. Our children should not have to settle for what they have simply because college costs are beyond their reach. Parents should not have to choose which child they provide the educational opportunity. I believe we should “Never Settle” for status quo.

We all make sacrifices to ensure opportunities are available to us. The question is, “When is the cost too much?” Should the cost of higher education only be affordable to the few? Should we continue to allow the cost of higher education to escape those that have an educational dream beyond high school?

Writing this, I think back to my own dreams of college after high school. It was evident neither my wife nor I could afford a higher education. We needed to do something, so I enlisted in the military — that was not a bad thing. During that time, we each received our bachelor’s degrees through non-traditional means — i.e., mail-in courses, small classrooms in non-university settings, even night courses. After the military, the Veteran’s Administration helped meobtain my teaching license and master’s degree in special education in the more traditional manner.

College tuition is on a steady increase. The national average rose 6.5 percent for 2009-2010 school year, and will rise again this year. Tuition rates for the average in-state undergraduate student will go up 9 percent this year at CU-Boulder for a total of $7,018 per year. At the same time universities and colleges throughout the nation are challenged with providing access to all students without compromising the quality of educational programs or services. The current political push in Colorado is to increase the number of out-ofstate enrollments for the purpose of gaining more tuition dollars — but I ask, “At what cost to Colorado youth?” The problem is multi-faceted with many pieces yet unidentified, and one not easily resolved. There is not one slam-dunk solution. We must provide for the future of Colorado and America through education by ensuring Colorado students an affordable higher education with the benefits of life learning. Help me address this issue byelecting me to the CU Board of Regents for Colorado’s 4th Congressional District.

To learn more about my goals and ambitions for Colorado education, go to

Robert Bishop-Cotner/Windsor

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