A reader with questions
I have long valued the Arkansas Times as a source of trenchant analysis and a more progressive slant on Arkansas people and events than I get from the Dem-Gaz. I was puzzled, though, by your Jan. 27 editorial, "Austin Learning Limits." It seemed more like a wild parody of journalism than anything else, but had no disclaimers to indicate that you were only funnin' us. So what gives? What were you trying to do?
The news of a deal for C-130s from our air base to land at Fayetteville's old Drake Field airport could be a boon for Air Force morale, recruitment and training.
Basically, the old city field is surrounded by hills and will provide our pilots with a local simulation of Afghanistan-type landing approaches.
But think of all the good public relations and morale this could generate among our service members, our local Junior ROTC cadets, and University of Arkansas ROTC cadets.
Imagine in your mind's eye all the Hog fans locally volunteering for Operation Hogs. As two A-10s from Fort Smith's Air Guard unit circle overhead, two of our C-130s drop out of the sky and rapidly unload two loads of security forces to "secure" the airfield in Operation Hogs' invasion phase. After "securing" the field and local bus transportation, they radio the "invasion task force" to land.
After simulating under fire the unloading of their "gear (an overnight bag), their units and "command ground transportation," the task force with its "borrowed" buses heads to the University of Arkansas to "rescue" ROTC, Junior ROTC cadets and local officials being "held hostage" the night before or the morning of a big Hog game at Razorbacks Stadium!
After securing the hostages, the exercise would "pause" so our airmen could be the guests of the University of Arkansas at the game in the student section and on Fayetteville's Dickson Street. On Sunday afternoon, the exercise would resume with the evacuation from Drake Field and back to Little Rock Air Force Base.
When the Hogs are playing in Little Rock, the exercise could be staged to "rescue" units at War Memorial Stadium.
Imagine the number of Hog fans among the local airmen and officers who would volunteer for this exercise. And the amount of good TV coverage, the amount of morale boosting and recruitment efforts this would provide.
A year without guns
Another MLK day has come and gone and we almost missed it. The shooting rampage at a Safeway store in Arizona pre-empted much of the media attention Martin Luther King Day would normally have gotten. One must wonder what Dr. King would say if he were alive today. King would probably say that the gun is not the answer. After all, James Earl Ray's gun did not stop King's influence.
Dr. King was a fighter, but King's weapons were imagination, creativity and gumption. Even Malcolm X had to admit that King's methods were more effective. There was much in the world worth fighting for, but to kill each other was to lose the fight. King's lesson is important today because too many people lack the imagination and creativity to think of better answers than the gun.
2011 is a new year. Let us try to do better this year, and do it without a gun.
Build the mosque
America is the greatest Country on the Planet. It is our Constitution and the principles stated therein, that make us what we are. Everybody says they know and understand this. But in practice, few do.
I say the mosque near Ground Zero should be built because we are a nation that believes in Freedom of Religion. America was not attacked on 9-11 by Islam. We were attacked by Al Qaeda. Those people responsible for 9-11 killed women and children, non-combatants. This is forbidden by the Quran.
America should send the message to the followers of Islam that we are what we say we are. If we let the right wing, so-called religious nuts control this debate and prevent the mosque from being built, we send a message to the followers of Islam that we blame their religion and all who believe, for the actions of Al Qaeda. That is morally wrong.
Do we allow the argument against building this house of worship carry over and not allow Jewish synagogues near Christian churches because the Jews murdered Jesus, and do not believe he is the son of God?
Do we not allow a Catholic church to be built near, well any living thing, because of the Inquisition?
No, that would be insane. If we think we are protecting our rights by denying others theirs, we have already lost what is great about America.
Build the mosque.
For healthier kids
President Obama recently signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act — first major bipartisan bill enacted since the election by a deeply polarized Congress. The act will replace junk food in school lunches and vending machines with more healthful options.
Several jurisdictions have taken similar action. The Hawaii, California, New York, and Florida legislatures passed resolutions recommending vegan school options. Last year, the Baltimore public school system became the first in the nation to offer its 80,000 students a weekly meat-free lunch. According to the School Nutrition Association, 65 percent of U.S. schools now offer vegetarian lunch options.
In the past, USDA has used the National School Lunch Program as a dumping ground for surplus meat and dairy commodities. Not surprisingly, 90 percent of American children consume excessive amounts of fat, and only 15 percent eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. These early dietary flaws become lifelong addictions, raising the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Those who care about our children's health should demand healthful plant-based school meals, snacks, and vending machine items.