Letters to the Editor 2/12

Political parties resort to name-calling

The political left in this country, now calling themselves “progressive” despite the obvious irony, are so devoid of new ideas and independent thought that it almost makes a “compassionate conservative” feel sorry for them. All they do is recycle the same old, tired hate speech that they flung at Reagan. Only two things have changed with them in the past 20 years: the target has a different name (Bush), and the speech reveals a much more intense amount of hatred, desperation and blindness.

Reagan, too, was called an idiot and a “gun-slinging cowboy” by the news media and other typically leftist outlets, though honest history has clearly proven otherwise.

If one cannot defeat an opponent through an honest exchange of ideas, then the only choice is to attempt to discredit the opponent, by calling him stupid. How many times have they said that George W. Bush was a substandard college student or that he is a puppet controlled by the members of his cabinet, etc? Yet, he politically outsmarts the left in this country at every turn. What does that say about this self-appointed intellectual elite?

Name-calling aside, we are now focusing on Iraq. There, the leadership slashes the throat of anyone who is even accused of being a dissenter, and the country is in violation of the cease-fire agreement forged after America put a stop to its last attempt at imperialism and freed the people of Kuwait. Iraq is also in violation of numerous other United Nations resolutions and of attempting to obtain even more weapons of mass destruction. But, oh yeah, Bush is the bad guy. Bush is the imperialist.

Either through the United Nations, or with just a few other countries assisting, we are going to free Iraq. The decision has already been made. Sadly, some people will die, buildings will be destroyed, and not so sadly, Saddam Hussein will be removed from power. Americans forget their history: American colonists died in their battle for independence from Great Britain, and the independence would not have been possible without assistance from other countries. What was one of the main reasons for that war? Something like taxation without representation comes to mind. Would the colonists not have been more motivated had the British government been using them for weapons of mass destruction target practice, raping the mothers and sisters of a family that dared speak disapprovingly of the government and intentionally starving the people to pay for the constant construction of grandiose palaces?

Why, in the eyes of history, is it OK for the white American colonists to seek independence, but not OK to rescue certain Middle Easterners from fear and squalor? That is one of the most obvious examples of racism I have ever seen.

Jason Konopack is a senior majoring in microbiology.

Not voting is more than just apathetic

I’ve heard it time and time again. People our age don’t vote. But why? With America’s patriotism at an all-time high, “The War on Terrorism” and issues concerning the possible war with Iraq, most would think that we would want to have a voice in these decisions. Shouldn’t we care about who is making decisions that affect our lives? Well, apparently, we don’t. Or at least not enough to go to a precinct and take 10 minutes out of our busy lives to vote. Many people our age say that there are too many senior citizens voting causing our votes, in the 18-25 age bracket, not to be heard.

Well, according to the U.S. Census Bureau Nov. 2000, voter registration for those 18-25 outnumber those 65 and over significantly. Our voices could be heard.

Our problem lies with the percentages of the population that actually vote. Only 36.1 percent of people between the ages of 18-25 vote, compared to the 72.2 percent of people in the 65-74 age bracket. According to the study by the Kaiser Family Foundation and MTV’s “Choose or Lose” campaign, 70 percent of those 18-25 polled said they don’t vote because, “politicians are out of touch with our age group.” Am I the only one who sees the irony here? Maybe if we voted, the politicians would be more inclined to campaign for issues that matter to us. Simply put, the reason politicians are “out of touch” is because we don’t vote to get them “in touch.” I have to believe that people in our age group care more about our government’s issues.

Wake up people, if there is a draft, guess who will be affected most. Us. It will be people our age fighting and dying and we won’t even have a say in what we’re dying for. Let me point out a great example of what happens when we let others vote for us. Amendment Six passed and now the budget for higher education across the state is being drastically cut.

Tell me that if your Bright Futures Scholarship gets cut that you wouldn’t be affected. Seniors, that class you need in order to graduate next fall might not be offered over the summer thanks to these cuts. The people making decisions for us won’t even be around in 20 years to feel the weight of the decisions made.

We are the future. Shouldn’t we decide what our future will be? Less than half of our age group vote; only two-thirds of our entire population votes.

Imagine the impact we could have if the other 63.9 percent of us actually voted? We can make a difference. Be informed, and vote for your own sake.

For more info or to learn how to register to vote, go to

Whitney Serna is a sophomore majoring in mass communications.

Ritter story didn’t tell the whole truth

Upon reading Thursday’s Oracle, I wasn’t sure if I had a copy of The National Enquirer or our school’s paper in hand. I was gravely disappointed in Rob Brannon’s Feb. 6 article about Scott Ritter. It flies in the face of ethical journalism, the many man hours and university dollars that have gone into bringing Ritter to campus.

Allow me to first address the factual errors in Rob’s article. In the first place, it is incorrect to state that Ritter is accused of sex crimes as he is not currently under any form of investigation.

Second, the article further errs by stating that records of his crimes were released in late January. No records were ever released. The story was leaked, and Ritter is not at liberty to speak about the facts of the case, which has been sealed.

May I further state that no conviction was ever handed down. What’s worse is that a few minutes of Internet research reveal a number of articles questioning the validity of the allegations against Ritter. Did anyone stop to question why these allegations are coming to light now, when Ritter, a Republican Marine and expert on Iraq, is all that stands between a belligerent administration and an unjust war?

Freedom of the press implies responsibility. Brannon’s article shirks that responsibility, and suggests that nothing more than a few allegations are needed to assassinate someone’s character. Allegations, mind you, can be cheaply manufactured.

In conclusion, I found Brannon’s article to be sensationalist, under-researched and not in the best interest of the public. In short, a violation of the most fundamental principles of journalism.

I hereby request that The Oracle print a retraction and a front-page story focused on the purpose of Ritter’s visit, inform the students of USF about a life-and-death matter of global importance, and the war in Iraq.

I further request that Rob Brannon be disciplined for irresponsible journalism and that to news stories that give a different perspective on the allegations against Ritter be published in The Oracle.

Aneesh Karve is a senior double majoring in math and computer science.

Tragedy makes us realize our humanity

Tragedies often bring out the best and the worst in our culture. They unify us in our grief and highlight the divisions we use to categorize and label one another.

The events of Sept. 11 did this, and on a somewhat smaller scale, the destruction of the space shuttle Columbia has, as well. We are struggling to understand how we should grieve and, at the same time, looking for the right place to lay blame — as if that could somehow lessen our sadness and frustration.

Some of us with personal connections to the space program are grieving in our own way and doing our best to support our friends in the space program as they work through their sorrow.

Others, seeing the space program merely as an extension of a military we may or not support, don’t see the need to mourn this loss nationally.

Others who understand the space program to be primarily a means of exploration for future settlements, minimize the loss as a collateral event in our mercenary expansion of American dominance. Still others see the families on the news and, while hugging their own children, cry.

This tragedy has brought out the best and the worst in me. Like many Americans, I feel a sense of pride in the quality and courage of our country’s scientists and physicians. In my own sense of loss and sorrow, I have come to the aid of close friends whose grief is greater than my own. I have watched the images on the news while trying not to notice the lump in my throat or the bloodshot blurriness in my eyes.

I’ve also felt intense frustration and anger at some of the misconceptions and hurtful reactions that are working against a positive outcome for this tragedy.

NASA has been criticized repeatedly for not implementing preventive measures that might have saved the Columbia crew from disaster. A safety panel had recommended updating shuttles to include an escape module, and NASA Extravehicular Activity managers had lobbied strongly (yet unsuccessfully) for inspection and repair of damaged tiles to be routine upon entering orbit. These suggestions were turned down, but was it because of NASA’s lack of concern for the safety of its crew?

My informed guess is no. Constraints of an ever-dwindling budget prevented implementation of these preventive and protective measures. The government has not allotted a sufficient budget for NASA to implement measures that could significantly increase safety in space flight.

Do the astronauts know this before they sign up to be shipped into space? Of course they do. The tragic loss of the seven members of the Columbia crew should not overshadow the fact that they knew the risks they faced (a fact repeatedly acknowledged by the family and survivors of the crew). They knew what they were doing, and they did it anyway — willingly and with an adventurous spirit.

On Sunday, an acquaintance was bemoaning the fact that people die all the time in this country without the media attention and national mourning afforded the Columbia crew. He went on to imply that the only goal of the space program is to find new places to infect with American imperialism, since we won’t take care of our own planet and will soon need somewhere to go.

Political slant aside, this attitude is representative of why NASA can’t seem to get sufficient funding — Americans don’t understand the value of space travel in a post-lunar landing world. They don’t understand that technology developed by NASA filters down in many ways to products that benefit a large number of people.

They don’t understand that some research (such as the zero-gravity bone density study undertaken by the Columbia crew) cannot be performed on Earth and will benefit us through improved medical treatment.

They don’t know that these astronauts, in addition to their wild and crazy, limit-pushing, cowboy-style zeal, offer themselves as human guinea pigs for the benefit it affords our world.

NASA is certainly suffering from a public relations challenge, but the appropriate response (as an enlightened public or responsible media outlet) is not to continue the barrage of insults against an agency that is already doing phenomenal work with what little funding they are given.

Rather than criticize NASA, we would do well to educate ourselves by learning exactly what it is that NASA does. Before casting any stones, we have a responsibility to learn why space flight and research is important, how it benefits the average person and what we can do to ensure that its mission (if determined to be appropriate) is adequately funded.

I’m certainly ready to do my part, and I invite you to do yours.

Christina Hendrick Croft is a graduate student in religious studies.

Money is the root of war with Iraq

War with Iraq has been the topic of the hour for all the media outlets in this nation who agree, without any question, with the plans by the United States to bomb Iraq. Whether I agree with war is an issue of personal opinion, which would not change anything. I am nothing but a citizen who is programmed to obey the system and pay his taxes.

This is where the issue begins, taxes equal money. The issue of money has not surfaced in the media, since they are afraid that they would be attacked or even harassed by various agencies if they decided they would scratch the issue beneath its plastered surface.

The United States has been battling a giant monster of corruption and a lack of trust in the markets, which combined with a global slowdown in the world economy, has resulted in a great shortage of capital in our nation.

The issue of funding the war with Iraq, I believe, has bothered the trigger-happy neo-conservative cabinet from the start. The need for funding was started by a series of cross-Atlantic flights by various members of the cabinet to rally support, which simply put, stands for sharing the costs of war with those who have personal interests in Iraq.

I stress “personal interests” because ours in the opinion of the presidential advisors, stands in making war with Iraq to protect our national interest in the Gulf area. So, it is no surprise that England was the first to join our great witchhunt to rid the world of the evil doers and sinners to promote a much happier world, since the England has a huge personal interest in the Gulf region — mainly British Petroleum oil fields that need to be protected from Saddam Hussein.

Now, the issue of personal interest comes up in the news as being that of Russia, China, Germany and France, all members of the security council, who are now friends of Saddam because they pledged to try their best to promote the idea of peaceful resolution with war as a final option once all other means were exhausted.

Their national interest should be our national interest, if we were to play the matter in a fair and balanced way.

To explain more, I will sum their interests in the Iraq case as being cautious about spending money on weapons, when that money is better off spent on reviving their economies and preventing more economic devastation due to the slowdown in the global economy.

A war with Iraq, if needed as a final solution, should be one decided by the world in which the costs are split among the nations, along with the man power needed to run such a war.

Again, this is just my view of things the way they stand. I do believe that my opinions do not matter when it comes to issues of policy.

Yet, I am hoping that there is some wisdom behind what we are about to start, which I have yet to comprehend.

Finally, I disagree with policy makers about the way they are handling the issue, but completely support President George W. Bush in what he decides to do in the next few days.

A.G. Masoud is a senior majoring in international studies.