The Gospel According to Paul
Thanks for publishing Ward Harkavy's "Passing on the Right" in the February 16 issue. The accompanying illustration about the New Right dittoheads marching in lockstep says it all. Paul Weyrich and company have the nerve to rave on about liberal "elitists" and then require absolute ideological obedience on issues such as the "Christian" position on health care (no universal coverage).
I think the most amusing line (out of many) was Weyrich's claim that he doesn't "suffer fools." This from the guy who surrounds himself with deep thinkers like Ollie North.
Robert A. Ellis
Kenny Be is the best political cartoonist around. I immediately find his page, first thing after picking up Westword. He makes us chuckle even when the "real message" hits close to home. The comics he draws are radical, yet more in tune with the real world than other ordinary comics found in the Post or News. I am an eighteen-year-old high-school student, and I can picture some of his crazy "Laugh" characters in attendance at my school. Also, I really enjoy your paper as a whole. It does not dwell on all the tragedies in society, and livens up my life instead of bringing it down. Kenny Be and everyone at Westword, keep it up.
Yup and at 'em
What, is this town stagnant? Can't art critic Hart Hill find something to write about that's meaningful or pertinent to art? It seems that Hart only covers the "accessible" art forms in Denver. Are you afraid of offending your yuppie readers or the white-collar executives who write your checks? Start exploring some of the cutting-edge artists who don't necessarily paint landscapes or build sculptures that have no relative meaning but tower over the viewer. Maybe you can make some correlation with art and society's condition as opposed to referring to artists who are exploring past art styles. Who knows, Hart, you might find an interesting art world in Denver. Otherwise, resign.
The Firings Down Below
Regarding Michael Roberts's article "Experience Not Needed" in the February 16 issue:
I attended Machebeuf Catholic High School from my freshman year (1991-1992) until second semester of this year, and I felt that Roberts's article finally showed people the real truth behind the firings of Dennis Powell and Francois de Vangel. After hearing of the firings when talking to classmates during the summer, and after returning to school in the fall of 1993, the immediate question that entered my mind was: "Why?" Rumors spread that the firings were instigated by the ages of the teachers and their illnesses. Every student at Machebeuf knew that Dr. Liz Mantelli (who for the years that I attended Machebeuf appeared to believe that Mr. Powell and Mr. de Vangel were blessings to the school and the students) had fired them especially for these reasons.
Other teachers besides those mentioned in the article were dismissed as well, and their dismissal caused the quality of education at Machebeuf to decrease, thus causing many students (including me) to withdraw after being in Catholic schools for years.
Roberts's statements concerning students' fear of being labeled as troublemakers weren't in the least bit an exaggeration. In a school where leaving campus to go out to lunch can land you a suspension from classes, there is no way that students can protest against the administration without fear of being reprimanded. We students had discussed the firings among ourselves during free times in classes and came under the scrutinizing stare of a teacher who did not want to hear us discuss matters we had not been involved with. The students knew what the real issues were in the firings. I am glad to know that someone has finally shed light on this outrageous situation.
The Secret Life of Transplants
Regarding Eric Dexheimer's "The Loneliness of a Long-Distance Transplant" in the February 9 issue:
Being both a liver-transplant recipient and a writer, I can't resist responding to your article. I, too, made that journey to Omaha for my surgery, and because of complications with the initial transplant, my family was in a state of flux between Omaha and Denver for six months. Yet my situation was somewhat different than the Fischers'. I chose to have my operation in Omaha after a thorough examination of the nation's transplant centers. My wife and I felt that the issue of being uprooted and cut off from extended family and friends was secondary to the issue of medicinal excellence. In my case, that meant leaving Denver as opposed to remaining here--a decision my family still stands by.
Yet as the Fischers reveal, everybody has his own criteria, his own factors--personal, financial or professional. As my wife and I did, the Fischers must have lost a lot of sleep trying to make the right choices, especially when they were dealing with a daughter's well-being. That they chose Denver and were ultimately unable to realize their choice is truly unfortunate. For as they must know by now, the transplant experience is a lesson in uncertainty and instability. If one enters into it without being as comfortable as one can be, then the inevitable setbacks and left turns will be all the more difficult to bear. I can only hope that this aspect of the article is the result of the writer's thirst for pathos and drama. It loads the Fischers with an unnecessary degree of regret and an errant sense of responsibility. When my first transplant ran into serious complications shortly after surgery, assigning responsibility was a frequent temptation. It would have brought causality and order to the situation. But I could never get away from one basic fact: Shit happens. Almost every patient has war stories. The Fischers certainly have theirs. Yet almost all patients live to tell the tale.
When all is said and done, the strong majority of liver-transplant recipients endure, survive and move on with their lives.
I have many things I could say about "The Loneliness of a Long-Distance Transplant." First, to the Fischer family: I wish the very best for you. Your family will never be the same, and not very many people will ever understand what you have already been through or what you will go through in the future. I do. My son, Bobby Wittman, was one of the world's longest surviving liver transplants until January 22, 1994, when he finally gave up his fight following his third transplant.
I can't remember how many surgeries my son had since 1982. I know there were sixteen the first year and twelve the last two and a half weeks of his life, with many more in between. Bobby was much stronger than his family. There were five times in the last twelve years when we were told there was no hope and nothing else they could do for him, and that he would soon die. But he wouldn't give up, so how could we?
We have been on an emotional roller-coaster for twelve years.
Financially, I had health insurance, but the first transplant was experimental and wasn't covered. I had to pay all my own travel expenses, and having no family in Pittsburgh, I stayed at the Ronald McDonald House for $5 a night. A lot, but not all, transplant families find it easier to just relocate. That is what I finally did with Bobby. After the first year, I moved him in with another transplant family I had become friends with so he could be close to the hospital.
Was it worth all this heartache and pain? Absolutely! I have a beautiful granddaughter and a wonderful daughter-in-law that I never would have had. But, you ask, would my son agree with me? I'll let him answer that. After he died, the hospital chaplain told my daughter-in-law about a picture Bobby had given her a year ago. It was a picture of Bobby's wife and daughter taken at E.B. Raines Park in Northglenn (I sent them plane tickets two summers ago when airfares were dirt cheap, for the only vacation they ever had). He told the chaplain, "If anybody ever asks you if it's worth it, just show them this picture and tell them to go for it."
Face the Nation
Steve Jackson's "Civil Wars" in the February 9 issue was the most honest article I have seen in a long time. I wish the public to understand that some of us have all the right stuff that it takes to stand up to the dysfunctionality of the present American Indian Movement leadership. It's been a decade of nonsense and self-promotion. Often forgetting the people. Never asking the complete community its thoughts, yet the leadership always states that it represents the entire community. The movement has been compromised, often by the egotistical behavior of these leaders. Let them find another way to feed their egos. We've suffered enough. I believe you're only the same as the people you serve, all on the same level. The spirituality is missing within them. Also, you do not belong to the Nation nor the people unless you know of their ways or your spirituality. Not by adoption! Being adopted by Joe Locust Sr. does not make you a member of the "Red Nation." Glenn Morris still has no enrollment--that makes him white. Now, on to the matter of how he got his leadership. Well, that's quastionable, also. He has never served nor earned his right to be in office. This is a position held by full-bloods who've usually served as warriors. I don't ever remember serving with Morris during my 25 years in the movement. Nor would I. I believe in self-determination and solidarity. We can't practice this if we have a non-native in the AIM office. Mr. Peltier and I feel this is wrong. Come stand in solidarity with us--remove Glenn Morris.
Mrs. Leonard Peltier (belonging to the Mic-Mac Nation)
World Without End I read Alan Prendergast's piece "The End of the Affair" in the January 26 issue with some bemusement and not a little sorrow. I admit to bias: I have been a participant in the Conference on World Affairs on several occasions, and I nod to the comments of CWA detractors.
Howard Higman is indeed an unreconstructed Roosevelt liberal with a tyrannical bent. He is not a perfect human being and is certainly not contemporary. He is, however, intent upon challenging contemporary thinking--not with anachronistic dogma but via an event that is at once intellectual and challenging.
Dr. Higman and I do not share many common values. I am unapologetically conservative. He regards my species as a lower life form. Nevertheless, he has, for almost a half-century, not only incorporated representatives of my ilk into the CWA, but has rebuffed those who would make the conference more "relevant" by dismissing white males as mere oppressors.
If, as your story presumes, the CWA is soon to return to room temperature unless it is dominated by speakers more attuned to the prevailing ethos of the Boulder campus, it will be a tragedy. The concepts that reasonable people can disagree and that open forums are the best crucibles of thought will have been dealt a blow in Colorado.
Despite myself, and despite himself, I actually like Howard Higman. Boor though he may be, he has redeeming values, chief among them intellectual curiosity and tolerance. Some of the folks on the Boulder campus might consider this as they drive a stake through his heart.
Donald E. deKieffer
After reading Andrea Barnett's article "Frontier Injustice" in the February 2 issue, I felt I needed to respond. Prior to moving to Bailey last August, I worked for a large sheriff's department in southern Wisconsin. Although I have never met Sheriff Harrison, I have had the pleasure of meeting several of his deputies, including Sergeant Wegener and officers Marinaro and Swanson. I am very impressed by their appearance, attitude and air of professionalism. I have also seen firsthand their commitment and accessibility to this community.
It would seem that if there are problems with this department, they lie in a lack of community education and communication. If Sheriff Harrison has found viable ways of handling traffic and other nonviolent, victimless crimes without jailing people, more power to him. The average cost of maintaining a prisoner in county jails in the country is currently in excess of $160 per day. This does not include the cost of transport. Do you want to expand your tax base to cover this cost? I'd rather see my taxes go to an increase in the number of available officers and pay increases for our deputies. Their starting pay is extremely low, considering that every time they put on their uniform they are taking a risk.
In my former position, I had been threatened with semiautomatic weapons, attacked by kids who were "iced" or "dusted," and done CPR on a fourteen-year-old who went into cardiac arrest because he got too much Scotchgard in his Baggie when he was huffing. Some days I could almost feel my own heart breaking. Thanks to the DARE program and the accessibility of the fine officers in Park County, there is only limited involvement in these problems. If I could, I would place an "Atta boy" in every deputy's file.
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I would say that if this community would write down its concerns and work with Sheriff Harrison or a liaison officer in a positive way, all these grievances could be resolved in a timely manner. I'm sure the sheriff would be happy to see this community and his department working together for the good of all concerned.
Better Ed Than Read
It really amazes me that you could print an entire issue of Westword on February 9 with no mention of the thirtieth anniversary of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. I guess the staff of Westword doesn't relate to their music, isn't over the age of 25 or is unable to comprehend the impact of the Beatles' music. Or this paper is written for people who read Teen Beat magazine.