Letters Local art shows have strong messages

To the editor:

During the last five weeks, the W.H. Over Museum has had the privilege of one of the most moving art exhibits I have ever seen. "With Liberty and Justice for All" detailed in its 27 watercolor paintings many of the shortcomings that we as a free nation have practiced in our more than 225 years of existence.

In the overall scheme of things, that is not too long for a nation. We have risen to great heights and have had to overcome many problems, slavery being probably the most terrible.

Yet many of our problems remain, hidden under our life style, our greed that allows us as a nation to grab at any excuse to take over others' property, our way of covering up glaring problems by passing the problem on to the victims.

Poverty is ever present in all factions of our society, but to me most troublesome is the poverty among the first Americans. We do have self-help programs, but most people know in their hearts that poverty is more than a lack of food and shelter.

It becomes a way of life when hope for the young is replaced by disappointment, despair of getting ahead, discrimination that breeds in hidden ways in families, schools and work sites.

Our new show, Robert Penn Remembered, is the work of one talented First American who died young leaving a wonderful legacy of art, telling the story of his people in many media, acrylic, watercolor, pastels, etchings. If it weren't for his lifelong struggle with alcohol, he may be with us still.

Alcohol and drugs have been the death sentence for many who grew up seeing parents and other members of the family struggle with despair, poverty and discrimination. Some win out with adequate help from compassionate friends and medical staff, but many do too much damage to their bodies before help is given.

I hope that you and all the readers can take time to visit the Sletwold Hall and see Bob's work. A reception is being held for the show this Friday, Feb. 7, from 7 to 9 p.m.

We will be privileged to view two videos which feature him in addition to having a sharing time. The show and the reception are co-sponsored by the College of Fine Arts and the Friends of the W.H. Over Museum.

Dorothy Neuhaus


We must provide stability in Middle East

To the editor:

"Iraq is a terrible place to live ? about 15 percent of the population have fled their homeland rather than live under Saddam Hussein's regime." This is an opening statement from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the Government of Britain's report titled "Saddam Hussein, Crimes and Human Rights Abuses," published November 2002 (htt://www.fco.gov.uk/F iles/kfile/hrdossier.pdf).

The masses of Amnesty International's files on Iraq are filled with horror stories of human rights violations. These documents and many available from the United Nations and other human rights organizations detail the horrible life one must live if choosing to remain in Iraq.

It is common policy to have tortuous punishments for speaking out against the government in Iraq. Saddam Hussein's and his son Uday's method of choice is tongue amputation. Men and boys are repeatedly kidnapped and forced into military service. This we witnessed first hand from the Gulf War.

Entire families are tortured and killed for speaking out or even being accused of speaking out against the Iraqi government. The Army of Iraq employs professional rapists that are in place solely to "remove the honor of the woman." Lest we forget this is the same despot who gassed the Kurds and ruthlessly began a policy of genocide before the United States intervened. Now, through our protection and assistance the Kurds have Kurdistan, a protected area of Northern Iraq where an independent government provides for the Kurds with minimal interference from Saddam Hussein.

Overall, most of the freedom, liberties and privileges we enjoy in the United States are either prohibited, punishable by law within Iraq or reserved for Saddam Hussien's supporters. There is no more brutal dictator in power right now than Saddam Hussein.

Kuwait is an example of how Saddam Hussein operates. Iraq had been horizontally boring into the Kuwaiti oilfields for years, tapping and stealing from their economic lifeline. When Kuwait said enough, Iraq invaded; setting up a scene of outright torture and carnage that lasted until Iraq was forced out in 1991.

Under orders from Saddam Hussein, hospital operating rooms were used for "surgical punishment." This is a process where his loyal military personnel conducted debilitating procedures on those suspected of defying the regime. There are still missing Kuwaitis who were last seen being herded into Iraq under armed guard. How about asking the Iraqi government about the status of the missing Kuwaitis as a part of the negotiations?

I recently had this discussion about our foreign policy with a highly educated professional. He was aghast when discussing how this Administration's foreign policy was about oil and nothing more. I asked him what type of vehicle he owned. He flushed and stated that it wasn't pertinent. It is all too pertinent.

I watched as he left the small airport with his family in one of the larger SUV's you can buy. Here he was, unafraid to burn the oil while all the time condemning the government that is defending his freedom to make that choice to buy the fuel. When one brings up the argument that this war is about oil, examine your lifestyle before condemning the government.

I am by no means an idealist. Business is as much a precursor for war as is religion or politics. Here we have a clash of ideologies combined with a demand product held by a rogue regime. France and Germany are major trading partners with Iraq. The population of Iraq needs stable, dependable foreign trade to grow, prosper and become independent, functional members of any civilization. Oil is a prominent asset and important to protect for the world as is peaceful control of the shipping lanes serving the Middle East.

The Middle East consumes a large portion of American and European made products. Until each nation is able to become completely self sustaining with no import or export products, instability will be a factor of international business. In order to protect the interests of the United States and those nations allied with us in the War on Terrorism, we must provide stability in the Middle East. Only then can we develop positive, far reaching partnerships in trade, economic development and cultural exchanges designed to educate and enhance a mutual understanding.

Religion is a personal choice. So long as it does not condemn another to negative actions, we as Americans believe it is an inalienable right to worship as you please. When you begin using your beliefs, religious or other, to persecute, someone must step in. We have no option but to protect the downtrodden just as we did when the Allies liberated France in World War II.

Al-Qaeda is absolutely committed to destroying the Westerners because of our prominent Judeo-Christian heritage. It is not that long ago we saw the Taliban using religion as a front to oppress women, children and anyone who crossed them.

Consider this. If we left Iraq alone, we would be leaving a nation alone that has made clear its intent to rain death and destruction on those who oppose it or possess an item of interest or desire. That he possesses chemical weapons is evident by his brash use of them against innocent civilians. One only needs to look at the famed photo of a dead father in a Kurdish village sheltering his dead infant child against the fumes with his body to know the level of evil of Hussein will stoop.

We have yet to see that photo published as of recently. This from the same media who took great pains to ensure all Americans saw the lifeless body of an American serviceman being drug through the streets of Mogadishu in 1993; who happened to be a very good friend of mine, father, husband and fellow platoon member.

How then, does this dovetail into the war on terrorism? Many would have you believe that this is merely "revenge" for President Bush and his father from not having displaced Hussein in the Gulf War. Many want you to believe it is about oil. What happened to the American ideal of protecting human rights? Where are the people who were so adamant about having then President Clinton stop the "horrible human rights" situation in Somalia?

Former President Bush began a strong process to rebuild Somalia, only to see the Clinton Administration mismanage a theatre of operations into the senseless death of fine young Americans by groups of clansmen only recently discovered to have a link with Al-Qaeda.

Saddam Hussein is a terrorist. He is a terrorist who uses weapons of terror and mass destruction on his own people to retain control of his power and finances. His activities within the nation of Iraq are heinous and intolerable The instability he generates in the Middle East reverberates throughout the area whenever he positions Scud missiles with unknown warheads on them. Stabilize Iraq and you begin a process to stabilize the entire Middle East, something that has been needed for years.

We will be fighting terrorism for a long time. Not just Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives, but Americans as a whole. Terrorism takes many faces and shapes. Terrorism is not selective in its victims. This we saw during the attacks starting in Kenya, with the most despicable ones occurring on Sept. 11. Innocent American men, women and children; families, were used as hostages, then murdered in the name of terrorism.

Every opportunity to crush terrorism needs to be exploited. There is no such thing as a palatable war. War is horrible, scars a nation and creates heavy burdens upon those fighting, those supporting ana those being "caught in the middle." Those who oppose the action fight with fury to prevent the war and everyone mourns those who give their lives on either side. The beauty of America is that we can exercise our choices in public, without fear of retaliation. Iraqis deserve the same.

Every person deserves the same rights and privileges that our forefathers were so brilliant as to pen for us in a living document; our Constitution. Every military member takes an oath to support and defend this document because of our beliefs in individual freedoms and the inalienable right to be free.

In failing to support the people of Iraq to realize this life of freedom, we may as well concemn those who don't have a choice in Iraq to a life of fear, repression and quite possibly death for what they believe.

Jim Larsen


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