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Thursday, September 23,2010

Letters | We can end intolerance

We can end intolerance

This letter is in response to the racially motivated incident of violence that took place in the early morning of Sept. 18, in which an African student who attends CU-Boulder was called racist names, told to go back to his country of origin and then assaulted, causing him physical harm. This horrific act, enacted out of hate, intolerance and lack of education, happened right here in our community: the most “educated city in the country,” Boulder, Colorado.

Many people reading this might be thinking, “What control do I have over the actions of one ignorant person?” The answer is that we all have the power and obligation to affect the social climate of the community in which we live. It is the responsibility of us all to continue to condemn incidents such as these and to fight every day to educate each other and our children about the importance of community, tolerance and the legacies of power and privilege that perpetuate a climate of intolerance, both in our homes and in our schools.

This letter comes from a grassroots community organization called the Bias Incident Hotline Project. We exist because incidents such as the one that happened on Sept. 18 occur all too often and are just the tip of the ice berg. Incidents reach a violent level because of a general climate of intolerance and privilege that exists in every community, including Boulder. They also cause a ripple effect, affecting every member of the targeted community and other communities that regularly experience bias and hate, whether in forms of violence or in more subtle forms like dismissive looks or being followed in a store.

We would like to compliment the university in condemning this act as quickly as they did. We also believe it would be beneficial to hear from Chancellor DiStefano (and the City of Boulder) about proactive actions the university (and the city) plan to take to ensure that the entire Boulder community is truly safe and welcoming for everyone.

Finally, we want the victim and community members affected by this recent incident to know that there are community organizations dedicated to addressing issues of hate and bias in Boulder and that The Bias Incident Hotline can provide emotional support and resource referral for all community members, including CU students. We want the entire community of Boulder to know that our group provides a space for people who are dedicated to making our community a more safe and welcoming place for all. Join the effort and be part of the solution, because in unity is strength! For support or more information, call 720-936-0555 or visit www.biasincidenthotline.org.

Emily Vellano, for The Bias Incident Hotline Advisory Board, a project of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center

Curious about letters

Just curious: I’ve always considered the Weekly a compelling source of provocative issues, with article topics having either a local focus or at least being of local interest, given our political demographics and education level. Plus Boulder Weekly readers I know just like to debate stuff. So I’m wondering why there seems to be an upward trend in the number of letters to the editor chosen for the print publication from out-of-state sources. This week I’m looking at seven of nine being from non-area folks (including Breckenridge) and tons from the coasts.

Are you really that short on local commentary? I’ll prompt my loudmouth opinionated friends to chime in, if so. I much prefer to read the LTEs when there’s a chance I’ll know the author. Plus, when I do, I know the context that person has to their opinion, and that adds perspective.

Keep up the great work, love the topics you guys choose to tackle. You’re the vanguard of the new media paradigm, I support you 100 percent.

Dan Powers/Boulder

What color is that kettle?

Qwest, headed for a merger with CenturyTel, has notified me that they are going to get more money from me soon.

I received no prior notice about this, and I certainly never heard that the Public Utilities Commission was in on the “decision.”

If I’m going to pay more, don’t you think I should get more? It’s interesting to hear Republicans and Tea Partiers rail about ObamaCare; they say no one should get any help with health care that he/she has not earned.

Well, what color is that kettle? I tried to ask Qwest for some reasoning or justification, but I tired of being on hold, waiting for 24 minutes to talk to my friend in Mumbai.

Maybe CenturyTel will hire more (American) customer-service people. If you believe that, then I’m switching to the GOP.

Gregory Iwan/Longmont

Saying aloha to hula

Boulder just had its first ever Aloha Festival; dancers and musicians came from as far away as Maui, Utah and New Mexico, and locally within the state of Colorado. It was a well-attended festival with plenty of things to do and see and buy. It was an extension of the CU/UH football game on Sept. 18 at Folsom Field.

Aloha! This is a word that has about five inches of meaning in the Hawaiian dictionary. But the truth in the word and the use has been severely abused by most non-Hawaiians, by many Hawaiians who don’t understand it, and sometimes by those uneducated in Hawaiian customs. When you watch a hula dancer, you can tell the difference between one who really knows what is the true meaning of that specific Hula and one who is just dancing to be pretty.

The true dancer has his or her heart and their very guts showing in the face, eyes and the body. Hula and Aloha are not just a place to be pretty and to show off, but a place to express the Hawaiian way of life and of being.

When I teach my students Hula, I teach them to feel it, to feel the soul of the words, to feel the pain or beauty of the Hawaiian native lifestyle and the history of their torment of 1893. This is part of Hawaiian Hula. It’s a culture and a lifestyle, a language, a 1,000-year history, and it is also an ancient religion based on four main gods and many lesser gods. The student must learn all this to really know Hawai’I and Hawaiian. One doesn’t have to subscribe to these gods and goddesses, but to respect them on behalf of the Hawaiian people.

Miriam Pumehana Paisner/Boulder director, Halau Hula O Na Mauna Komohana

GOP is own worst enemy

I am writing to express my concern and disappointment in the elected Republican state legislators who are endorsing a candidate of another party.

As a Republican who has grown increasingly concerned over the direction of the party, I participated in the 2008 and 2010 Caucus process and then in both of the 2010 county and state assemblies, in addition to other work.

I watched as requests for GOP volunteers turned into resentment that the new energy in the party was not properly fitting the mold. This especially concerns me since the “mold” has grown to act too much like the opposition, which has, in turn, plunged headlong into a progressive departure from our state and U.S. constitutions with socialist, Marxist, and tyrannical tendencies.

Across the country, Republican races are turning toward true conservatives and to those who are much closer to that than many the GOP has favored.

It has been refreshing to see the return to the values and principles that make the party great.

But inertia and entrenched power can work against improvements in any system. So, what do we find but a member of the old guard jumping ship to join a fringe group with less than 1 percent of registered Colorado voters, with even less than a quarter the number of Libertarians in the state.

Then, while that, in and of itself, looks exceedingly strange, numerous “Republicans” are charging over the cliff with him, including State Sen. Ted Harvey, State Sen. Greg Brophy, State Sen. Josh Penry, State Rep. Spencer Swalm, State Rep. Marsha Looper and State Rep. Steve King.

I fully agree with the head of the Pikes Peak-area 9/12 group that “as these elected officials are displaying no loyalty to party, the party must take action. Committee chairmanships should be denied. If they can not be trusted to stand by the party, they can not be trusted to execute leadership in important committees.”

Not only have they smeared egg all over the face of the Colorado GOP, they are directly contributing to the election of Democrat John Hickenlooper, with the future ramifications in the state Supreme Court, the post-census redistricting, the illegal immigration debacle and upcoming legislation.

Many of us have trusted the GOP to uphold our values. Many of us have awakened to the fact that if you want something done right, you probably ought to get in there yourself and work to improve the system. Do not dismiss us, as some are trying to do. If you watch those who are attacked the most by the left, you will see who it is that frightens them the most.

In respect for the Grand Old Party, I urge you to contact these legislators and ask them to reconsider our great state’s future. Actions have consequences.

Janice McLain/Colorado Springs

What’s with the animals?

I am concerned about the “Wild” series of sermons that Flamingo Road Church in Cooper City, Fla., is presenting. I was shocked to see that, with a full congregation in attendance, an adult, 500-pound caged male lion was wheeled onto the pulpit. This lion was pacing back and forth during the entire service, which caused the cage to move and rock. There was no barricade of any kind around the cage, only a man seated on a chair beside the caged animal.

A video clip can be seen online. It is very disturbing that this type of display is being allowed in a church setting. As I understand it, the next planned event will be using pythons as symbolic of original sin. Were city and county officials and wildlife officers advised in advance about this series of sermons featuring caged wild animals? If it’s not a violation of zoning or animal welfare regulations, shouldn’t it be? With the recent Jungle Island tiger escape, we’ve seen how quickly things can go wrong — dangerously wrong!

Please put an end to the use of exotic animals as stage props. It presents an unnecessary danger to the public and is a cruel life for animals who do not deserve this type of life in captivity. The king of beasts has been relegated to nothing more than an animal transported around for people to gawk at, which is shameful!

Even though Florida accounts for only 6 percent of the national population, it accounts for 12 percent of the 602 reported incidents of killings, maulings and escapes since 1990. Other states that have passed bans on breeding dangerous exotics have seen these numbers drop dramatically, some to zero.

There are not enough inspectors to guarantee that even minimal standards of care are being met or that the public is properly safeguarded.

It is time for the USDA and FWC to step up and insure public safety and animal welfare by banning breeding of big cats - period!

Nina Vollmer/Lakewood

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