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Online Extra: Letters to the Editor on Iraq

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Editor's note: The Colorado Springs Independent has been inundated over the past several weeks with letters from readers responding to recent events involving the situation in Iraq. We do not have the space to run all of these letters in the newspaper, but have decided to make them available for review online:

Behaving like monsters

I have never seen anything more appalling than the horrific torture photos of the Iraqi prisoners. Perhaps the only message to be gleaned is that there are individuals in all countries and cultures that grow up and behave like monsters. Perhaps our war should be waged at home against abuse, illiteracy, poor education, lack of effective social and justice systems, unemployment, lack of health care, discrimination, poverty and war itself. For that is the only real liberation.

-- Patricia Higgins

Colorado Springs

On the bright side

The recent spate of Iraqi prisoner abuse at the hands of soldiers defending freedom has inspired me to reflect on the positive side of this issue.

As ambassadors of American values around the world, we have the obligation to force our cultural advances on those less fortunate, that is, anybody who does not believe in Judeo-Christianity, democracy as we practice it, and heterosexuality at all costs.

Seeing images of subjugated, emasculated Iraqis at the mercy of cigarette smoking, pregnant GIs is heartening.

Thank God that gays are not allowed in the military establishment of the United States! The women's panties worn over the head of one captive might have belonged to a man!

-- Joseph F. Pennock

Victor

Apologies all around

So, Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) is demanding the Arab world apologize and condemn the beheading of American Nick Berg, saying that "if such an apology is not forthcoming from the Arab world, their silence should be condemned by the civilized world."

As horrific an act as it was, perhaps Rep. Tancredo should also demand that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz apologize to the families and loved ones of the estimated 6,000 innocent Iraqis who have perished needlessly.

Ordinary people trying to live ordinary lives but were unfortunately in the wrong place at the wrong time when civilized people rained death upon them. I'm sure the Bush Regime would hold themselves responsible and do a superb job in issuing their shallow and empty apologies.

-- Gary Dean

Colorado Springs

The red zone

AAhhooooga, Aahhooooga ... Hypocrisy meter now in the red zone. If Saddam Hussein was responsible for the torture chambers and rape rooms, doesn't it stand to reason that Bush and Rummy are too? Just asking.

-- Brent Koleno

Colorado Springs

We are civilized

We cannot justify the atrocious acts that have been committed in Iraq by a few Americans because of what Iraqis did to some Americans. We are a civilized country and this is just not our way to retaliate and stoop down to their low level.

I remember World War II when my father, a German, was in a concentration camp for two year because he spoke out against Hitler's philosophy, and this happened in Austria during our vacation. The humiliation he went through during the two years was unbelievable and he could not talk about it until years later.

If countries like France and other nations criticize us for the acts of a few misguided Americans, we should remind them of Germany's and Austria's treatment of Jews and other nationalities when they were gassed and stripped of their clothing or digging their own graves and then shot. God have mercy, this will not go unpunished.

Our fighting young men in Iraq should not be thrown in that category of a few American brutals.

-- Elfriede Little

Colorado Springs

Time to grow up

Saddened to tears by the actions of human beings during wartime, I wonder to myself if any of us will take responsibility for the seeds of hatred and violence within ourselves.

The torture of prisoners in Abu Ghraib isn't really surprising considering how soldiers are taught that we are so much better than "them" and that "they" aren't really human. Without fostering this idea of separateness, a soldier may not have the will to kill the enemy.

The abhorrent beheading of Berg, and future actions by terrorists, is a direct result of our own atrocities. Like children, we point fingers saying how much worse "they" are than we are. The venerable Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn reminds us that "this is like this, because that is like that." Isn't it time we all just grew up and began to behave like adults?

-- Mark Shellhammer

Via the Internet

A few examples

President Bush says the abuse and torture by those U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere are not representative of the America he knows. Maybe he doesn't know about these American behaviors: Wounded Knee, Sand Creek, Ludlow, Attica, Vietnam, Ruby Ridge, Waco, Matthew Shepard, the black man dragged to death in Texas, the Philadelphia neighborhood torched by a police raid, blacks beaten by white police officers, the guard abuse at Big Max near Penrose, ad infinitum. There wasn't justice in those cases; what makes us think there will be now? Of course Bush would have to read a book or two or even a newspaper once in a while to know about that America.

I'll be very interested in seeing how many blacks, Chicanos and other minorities participated and how many resisted or intervened. Those who did the deeds will go to prison. Those who expected and even ordered the deeds will get cranky letters in their files that will disappear when they hand carry those files to their next assignment.

Ayatollah Bush Doofus and his entire gang of more-than-four (Rumsfeld, Cheney, Powell, Wolfowitz, Rove, Rice) need to leave!

Nick Werle

Colorado Springs

Outraged by liberals

Are Kerry and the liberals traitors?

Ask yourself what the libs are saying about the commander-in-chief. Let me remind you. He knew about 9/11 before it happened and did nothing about it; he planned the Iraq "invasion" as soon as he took the oath of office.

Do these people (the Dis-Honorable Sen. Hillary Clinton, Howard "Scream" Dean, Dennis "What's-his-name" and Sen. Ted "Hiccup" Kennedy and Andy "Our Troops are not Heroes" Rooney) really think we are sheep in the flock and will believe anything they say?

There is a fine line between free speech and sedition; what should happen is, these elected officials should be arrested and charged with treason for giving aid and comfort to our enemies through their words and actions.

Every time these officers of the United States government speak out against the War on Terrorism and claim we are losing, they belittle and trivialize the job our troops are doing overseas.

As a Gulf War-era veteran I am outraged by the lack of support by our liberal left and especially the elected officials who forget that the military is sworn "to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States from enemies both foreign and domestic."

-- Thomas Roberts

Colorado Springs

We must speak out

Silence is the voice of complicity.

Haven't all of us been witness to the image of an America that has become more and more tarnished? The latest Pew Research Council poll finds that the unilateral actions of the Bush administration over the past three years have lowered opinions of us worldwide. Yet we are supposed to believe that we are safer now.

As images of physically tortured and humiliated prisoners fill TV screens and papers around the world, we are being told to believe this war is just, that it's about terrorism, and we are winning.

The real truth is that most people in Iraq, and the region, view our young American servicemen and women as occupiers, a role Rumsfeld and our current administration have thrust them in.

As the casualty toll rises daily, close to 800 Americans dead, more than 5,000 wounded, more than 10,000 Iraqis dead, and countless wounded, we are being encouraged to be cheerleaders. We should support Bush's war without question, proudly fly the American flag, and chant to the mantra, "We're fighting terrorism." If we speak out, we are called unpatriotic.

As people who love our country we must speak out. It is a duty in a democratic country whose leadership is pulling it down in so many areas: international relations, environmental quality, education and healthcare systems, civil rights and our overall sense of optimism.

Speaking out against injustices is truly democratic in nature. We have the opportunity on June 2, from 8:30 to 11 a.m. at the south gate of the Air Force Academy, to voice our disapproval of the direction our country is headed.

It is imperative for the voices of justice, peace, social equality and environmental health to be heard above the incessant rambling of fighting terrorism.

We need to have our voices heard. If we remain silent when we see terrible injustices being done we will be guilty of compliance. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Silence is betrayal." It's our time to speak out for humanity. Join us, and let your voice be heard.

--Jonathan Wuerth

Colorado Springs

The dark side

Everyone agrees that the atrocities inflicted on the prisoners in Iraq by Americans were brutal. There is enough blame to go around for these actions, which causes a lot of finger-pointing, a lot of buck passing, and much condemnation.

This brings me something that is very bothersome. If I were ordered or requested by implication to participate in any brutal attacks on these or any pensioners, I would refuse to commit to participate in doing so regardless of any or all consequences that would befall me for my decision.

So, what is very difficult for me to comprehend is why those Americans inflicting these atrocities didn't have an attitude similar to mine. The only rationale that I could come up with is that each one of us has a dark side (the enemy within). In some people their dark side becomes demented. Then in a situation such as war it gives that dark side the opportunity to express itself in a destructive way because the perceived chances of being discovered or even admonished for their acts are very slim.

This is probably why wars are so devastating to the human soul. They only possible solution will be a process of physiological screening for tendencies to exhibit ones clouded dark side when entering the military services.

-- Bob Bock

Colorado Springs

Censorship, plain and simple

I recently observed how Republican supporter, Sinclair Broadcast Group, would not allow its ABC affiliates to broadcast the Nightline episode paying tribute to the fallen U.S. soldiers in Iraq. Their rationale? That the program is political fodder.

No, it is Sinclair's reaction that turns it into a political football. It's censorship, plain and simple. The Bush administration started this war, and yet, they fear that the actual acknowledgement of the dead will provoke an undesired reaction from the public. Hence a ban on the photography of the soldiers coffins.

Why that fear? There are no state secrets being revealed. They fear that their war cannot stand the light of day. They fear that the will of the public will be sapped, and Bush will lose popular support for his war, if we hear any tune other than one of their own making. The tail wagging the dog?

-- Dan Marvin

Colorado Springs

Patronized by the powerful

Sinclair Broadcasting, acting as "Big Brother," did not allow its affiliates to air Ted Koppel's Nightline broadcast honoring American troops killed in combat in Iraq.

While this did not affect all markets, it is chilling to realize that we are increasingly patronized by the powerful and provided only what they want us to know.

This fact alone is a compelling argument against allowing consolidation of media ownership. Sinclair has the right to determine what it wants aired due to the empowering decision made by Chairman Powell and the FCC Board, acting on behalf of the American people.

Not so much as a nod to the conservative mantra that competition in the free market provides the most favorable results. The chairman and his co-conspirators, who made the decision handing the public broadcast channels to a few conglomerates, apparently do not trust free-market competition to provide the American public with politically correct information.

Is it unpatriotic and lacking in civility to notice that our government is looking less like a democracy and more like a fascist dictatorship?

-- Patricia A. Poos

Colorado Springs

Many different views

I tried very hard to watch the roll call of the soldiers and sailors killed in Iraq with an objective view... but came away feeling that "Ted Copout" had just exploited our children for his own aims.

My own son, Tom, who went to Cheyenne Mountain High School, is in Iraq, one of the kids extended for at least three more months. He is somewhere between Baghdad and Najaf; we haven't heard from him for weeks now.

I know I would not feel he was honored if he were ever to be on such a show. I would feel better about what Ted did if he contacted each family and asked them if they wanted their son or daughter included in the roll call. When I was a survival assistance officer and had to help a family who had a husband and father who passed away, I did not go there and say, "I am the Army, here is how we are going to honor him." We presented the options of what could be done and did exactly, exactly, as the family wished.

Presenting a flag to a widow is a hard task, as my peers will testify, but the family was the focus. Maybe Ted had a few e-mails from someone saying they liked the idea. There are so many different views about every aspect of war. If the families don't feel honored, it was not an honor. This is about the living too.

We who served, continue to serve, or just vote for leaders who make these awesome decisions, need to know our efforts will be honored appropriately. I don't ever want to be a picture on Ted's show for whatever reasons he must have. May God bless our young people still in harm's way.

-- Thomas "Skip" House

Colorado Springs

Bring them home

The war in Iraq is not a war on terrorism and it's not about freedom, ours or theirs. It's about our grabbing Iraqi natural resources and covering them so Israel will feel more secure and more unconstrained in persecuting Palestinians.

Iraq has not been "a main target of administration policy for the last 16 years." Iraq has been an obsession of Wolfowitz since the '70s and Israel since the country was founded.

This war is a mistake and we should bring our troops home. According to the military who were experts on the Middle East, Iraq was not a threat to us.

I am angry about the loss of lives and treasure. And I am angry at the Bush administration and the Israeli lobby for starting this war.

-- Theresa M. Steingart

Woodland Park

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