Letters to the editor
In and around Springfield
We welcome letters, but please include your full name, address and a daytime telephone number. We edit all letters for libel, length and clarity.
Send letters to: Letters, Illinois Times. P.O. Box 5256. Springfield, Illinois 62705. Fax: (217) 753-3958. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
STATE’S INDIFFERENCE SHOCKING
We were shocked and outraged to read of Lisa Weisser’s difficult journey toward justice [Bruce Rushton, “Victim of the state,” Oct. 13]. Back in the ’80s, it appeared that we were, as a nation, finally growing beyond the practices of protecting the offender and blaming the victim, particularly in the area of sexual assault. Ms. Weisser’s case would seem to be proof-positive that we are in fact carefully working our way backward while occasionally brandishing a few progressive catch phrases. We cannot believe that a known sex offender, with multiple priors, would be allowed to roam so freely from room to room of female in-patients. These women and their families had placed their trust in the state agency and health care professionals who were responsible for their safety and care. The state’s lack of compassion and interest in delaying justice is almost as appalling as their lack of responsibility in the first place. We’re reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King’s observation, in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.” Sexual assault, like racial prejudice, has been around for thousands of years. Unless we as a society consistently reject these behaviors through our responses to them, they can reestablish themselves as norms and not exceptions. The state’s indifference to the sexual assault that occurred literally under its own roof is in striking conflict with one of the state’s primary responsibilities, to see to the safety of its citizens. Is there a legal fund for Ms. Weisser where we could direct contributions? Chris and Debbie Smith Springfield
CRITICISM OF WASHINGTON WRONG
Fletcher Farrar is mistaken in several aspects of his criticism of “Washington Crossing the Delaware” [“Is this war really necessary?” Oct. 20]: First, the painting was rendered in Düsseldorf, Germany around 1851 by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, not Charles Wilson Peale. It is in fact Leutze’s conception of Washington crossing the Delaware on the night he attacked Trenton. While it is true that Peale was with Washington around this time, he did not render this famous painting. (James Madison, James Monroe, John Marshall, Aaron Burr, and Alexander Hamilton were also with Washington that night.) The crossing took the Hessians completely by surprise the next morning as they slept off their Christmas Eve hangovers. Washington captured a force that outnumbered his by more than 2-1, with the loss of only two men. He also captured stores of supplies and many cannons. The painting rendered by Leutze, while not as perfect as a photograph, is, in fact a depiction of Washington the morning preceding the battle. Trenton is regarded by most military historians as one of the history’s greatest feat of arms. Washington later described it as his Christmas present to the nation. For Mr. Farrar to write that this painting depicts Washington in retreat is incorrect. Neither is it a painting of “Washington triumphant.” It is a painting of how Leutze imagined Washington to be on the cusp of one of his greatest victories. As to the matter of Washington’s being in “full retreat,” Washington disengaged his force from Brooklyn and managed to ferry the men across the East River in the dead of night by deceiving the British into thinking he was about to attack the next morning. Next he withdrew his outmanned and outgunned force from Morningside Heights and once again gave the British the slip by crossing the Hudson to the Jersey shore. He denied the British the pitched battle that they desired and that would have meant the end of the Revolution. The British soon found themselves in control of cities, while Washington’s army, along with the forces in the south, waged a war of attrition against them. Mr. Farrar would be well advised to learn the difference between a withdrawal and a retreat. By avoiding the British and engaging them only at times and places of his own choosing, Washington pioneered what is today regarded as the art of guerrilla warfare. One must conclude that Mr. Farrar is either woefully ignorant of the history of this period or deliberately chooses to denigrate the accomplishments of Washington in that first miserable year. While he is derided for requesting others to address him as “His Excellency,” it must be remembered that he was the first military leader in history to voluntarily lay down his sword and hand power back to the civilian authority. He refused to become George I of America. And it was Washington who accepted the ordinary “Mr. President” as the proper title of address for his next office. As to Mr. Farrar’s assertion that American generals were “elected by their men,” generals were either appointed by Washington or commissioned by Congress, sometimes without his approval. Regimental commanders (colonels) and company commanders (captains) were usually chosen by election. Darryl E. Fox
Editor’s note: We regret attributing “Washington Crossing the Delaware” to the wrong painter and providing an incorrect description.
SOMETHING FROM NOTHING
The debate regarding creation vs. evolution is never-ending. Neither side will concede the slightest possibility of an iota of validity in the other’s position. What is interesting is the distinct possibility that both positions are valid. Evolutionists believe all life evolved from a single organism. Creationists believe all life was created by a supreme being. One question begs for an answer: Where did the single organism come from? No one can deny, on the basis of human intellect at this time, that something cannot be made out of nothing. If it can be held, seen, heard, smelled, or measured, it exists — and it came from somewhere. It did not suddenly appear out of nowhere. So from where did the single organism come? Consider for a moment that a single organism did give birth to all life. Is it not feasible a supreme being created the organism and as part of the intelligent-design evolution brought life to its present state? Something to think about.
John D. Kolaz
TIME FOR HUMILITY ABOUT IRAQ
At a certain point it seems to me that people have to choose between winning and acting tough. Clearly we are losing the war in Iraq. We are losing because there are and will be more deranged, young, true believing, hate-America men and women than the eye can see or the mind can imagine. Finally, now we must know that we cannot win militarily because they outnumber us, they have the tactical advantage with car and suicide bombs, and most importantly they have the staying power because it is their land and it will never be ours. Whatever excuses or rationales or distortions the Bush administration wants to provide or silly and irrelevant references to “typical insurgencies,” or even all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, the facts cannot be changed. We are not engaged in a war for land and treasure, we are engaged in a war for the hearts and minds of the world’s people. What would be helpful in such a war for hearts and minds? Credibility would be very helpful but Mr. Bush took that sword of truth and broke it in half when he sent poor old Colin Powell to the United Nations to “prove” that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. A good human rights record would be helpful but Mr. Bush destroyed our human rights record with the horrors in Abu Ghraib prison that he either initiated or allowed to happen. Some humility and outreach would be helpful, but he refused even to consult his own father regarding the Iraq invasion, refused to accept the support of other countries except on his terms, and to this day, like a modern day captain of the Titanic, refuses to consider any solution other than “stay the course.”
The American president should now go before the world, admit the terrible mistakes we have made and present the world with another great truth: The mess in Iraq is not just America’s problem. It is the world’s problem. The American president should humbly ask the world community for advice and admit that our presence is like waving a red flag in front of the bull of Arab nationalism. Humility always triumphs over arrogance and now it is the only solution. Frank Ross Springfield