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Public Eye



This week, let's talk about cowards and writers and enemies and students of history.

Some people were incensed over last week's Public Eye column, in which we reminded people why some people might not like the United States much. As a result, a couple of cowards among us chose to anonymously call local radio talk shows and demand that the Independent be relocated to, say, Afghanistan. Then, as quick as you can say Joseph McCarthy, they contacted a few of the newspaper's advertisers and threatened they would be listed on a "national Web site" as anti-American pro-terrorists.

A handful of others called the newspaper's office and anonymously accosted our receptionist with rants and raves.

Some readers were at least brave enough to put their names alongside their opinions.

Brett C. Lippencott wrote all the way from Hong Kong, to tell me that I'm "disgusting," "stupid" "loathsome" and a "moron."

And how about this charming offering, sent in by one G.J. Burcher: "Cara DeGette is as much of an idiot as her sister Dianna [sic]. I'll bet mommy and daddy are awfully proud of the fruit of their loins." (The reference to Diana is my politician sister who, by the way, has nothing to do with this.)

Tom Rice, stationed at the Osan Air Base in Korea advised that "if you're trying to become the next Jane Fonda, you're off to a good start."

I don't think Tom meant exercise videos.

Here's Scott Osterhaus, weighing in: "Your hatred of the American way of life is clear. Did you ever consider that Sadamm [sic] Hussein and his ilk are evil and not prone to changing their mind, because of a peace conference? They have to be eliminated, pure and simple."

Mike Dunlap, who I do not know, accused me of being spoiled, wealthy and living an "almost perfect existence."

"You are the ultimate example of cowardice. You couldn't possibly care any less about 'innocent' or 'poor' people. You just use your false appearance of concern as a facade for the utter wrath and hatred for America and Western Culture that lies so transparently beneath the surface of your lies.

"What a total hypocrite, liar, and coward you are. It's actually quite impressive."

And so it went.

Actually, the paper received many more accolades for the column than bombastic attacks. Here's just a sampling of the mail we received:

Rose Trigg wrote to thank us for being "brave, bold and uncompromising."

"I never thought I'd see such strong sentiments in a publication in this city, even the Independent. You have spoken for many of us, and I thank you! I am so fearful that our country will bomb Afghanistan, which is already suffering from famine and deprivation.

"You spoke in the true spirit of journalism!"

Esther L. Kisamore noted the horror of last Tuesday and called us courageous.

"Cara DeGette did an excellent piece reminding Americans of the terror that our government had done through bombings in various places, where thousands of innocent civilians have died -- especially Iraq -- ongoingly," Kisamore wrote. "Violence in response to violence only breeds more hate."

Lucy Bell wrote in to say the column expressed not only her thoughts and feelings, but many others as well.

"I don't know why church leaders, and especially those who are internationally visible don't speak up with a voice of moderation for all the Americans who feel they have no voice."

Finally, Walt Windholz pointed out that "we need so very much to find out why our American lifestyle generates such deep hate."

"We need to touch hearts more around the world so deep tragedies can be avoided. You can help us see in depth who we really are and why some others hate us so much."

Which brings us to another caller, who advised us to refer our more conservative readers to one of their favorite and most trusted organizations, the Cato Institute, whose Web site is There, they can find the institute's policy analysis #159, titled "Ancient History: U.S. Conduct in the Middle East Since World War II and the Folly of Intervention."

In the analysis (no fair just reading the executive summary), Cato Institute senior editor Sheldon L. Richman provides an extensive historical perspective of what we've been doing in the Middle East for the past five decades. He also debunks the notion that talking about the United States' involvement there -- with sometimes disastrous consequences -- is somehow unpatriotic.

"The stubborn and often self-serving notion that the historical record is irrelevant because political violence is inexcusable ensures that Americans will be caught in crises in the Middle East and elsewhere for many years to come," Richman wrote.

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