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Letters to the Editor 

Cleaning Up the Countryside; Beyond the Fringe; Elvis, Healing From the Grave; Close Encounters

Comments
Way out north: While Jeremy Mullman's portrait of conspiracy theorists in the far north of California is shocking, it's also quite sad ("Rural Cleansing," Oct. 3). Where exactly do these anti-environmental, U.N.-black-helicopter-fearing folks get their information? What feeds this profound disconnect from reality? Though probably not his intention, Mullman provides a strong argument for dramatically increasing spending on public schools, community colleges, and mental health facilities in rural California.

Brian Smith
Inner Sunset

National monument? Have you gone mad?: Thank you for your piece describing the state of the state of Jefferson for readers in the city. It's about time people back in civilization caught a glimpse of the genuine wackiness that goes on in Alta California. But you didn't get the whole picture. The main points you missed were: 1) the extreme viciousness of some of these people, and 2) that they are funded by resource extraction industries and right-wing ideologues.

As evidence of the viciousness, let me offer the experience of my own organization, the Siskiyou Regional Education Project. Last year, for merely proposing a national monument in the Siskiyou Mountains of southwest Oregon, we were inundated with hate letters threatening to burn down our rural office and do us bodily harm. A local opposition group gave out the names and addresses of our staff to its members, presumably so we could be harassed or attacked.

My second point, that the property rights types here are supported by corporate interests, has been documented many times. Also, many of the most vocal activists are not home-grown. There is a huge surge of "white flight" retirees looking for cheap land far from the urban multicultural scene. These folks are mostly from Southern California, and they are often extremely conservative. Formerly urban Republican ideologues are probably driving the state of Jefferson rebellion as much as any other factor.

Kelpie Wilson
Development Director
Siskiyou Regional Education Project
Cave Junction, Ore.

Agent Cheapshot is starting a new file. That's Klotz with a K?: In "The Need for More Intelligence" (Mecklin, Oct. 3), John Mecklin shares an amusing satirical piece that "came in the mail." My letter is addressed to the anonymous agent in that piece, an agent for the "Homeland Security Agency." It seems our agent, whom I will henceforth call Agent Cheapshot, found some irrational and contradictory opinions at Bay Area anti-war events.

Agent Cheapshot, your observations are hardly surprising. You needed no cover on this assignment because the events you infiltrated are part of an open, grass-roots response to the Bush administration's promise of a long, expensive war to "rid the world of evil." At such events, you will always encounter a wide range of ideas: Grass-roots movements don't offer the ominous conformity we hear now in the White House pressroom and mainstream media coverage.

Our leaders seem caught up in their own "dissociative response to [a] life-altering historical event," to use your words. Bush promises to annihilate not just those responsible, but all terrorist organizations "of global reach." Any useful definition of terrorism leads to the uncomfortable observation that many groups and nations have participated in it, the United States among them. Al Qaeda seems to be counting on just this sort of indiscriminate war to win fresh converts to its cause. Maybe we should apply a bit more intelligence to the situation before we follow al Qaeda's script.

Will you serve the "Homeland Security Agency" or the American people, Agent Cheapshot? At a time when irrationality blooms across the political spectrum, will you confront it in the places where it is likely to do real harm? You'll need more than your sardonic wit for this new assignment. To speak truth to power requires courage these days. You won't need as much courage as the police officers and firefighters who died saving others on Sept. 11, but you'll need more than you've shown so far.

David Klotz
Berkeley

That'll happen. By Tuesday at the latest: Bravo, kudos, and well done! Sept. 11 has, once and for all, destroyed any remaining relevance of 1960s-era New Left dogma. I stand humbled by your nimble observations, cleverly framed as an ersatz intelligence report.

Someday, hopefully soon, the fresh realities of the 21st century will synthesize new ideas, and a meaningful, intelligent, and fully engaged form of peace activism will nucleate. When that happens, people who seek alternatives to war can finally break away from the meaningless ideologies of a long-gone world.

Scott Christopherson
Ingleside Terrace

Easy targets: John Mecklin states that the "line" of the San Francisco left, as evidenced by recent protests, is illogical and lacks subtlety. I find this quite ironic in an article that uses vicious sarcasm and several classic fallacies of reasoning to prop up the non sequitur of his "new fact equation," which states that only a military response will prevent more Americans from being slaughtered like sheep.

Mr. Mecklin is using the conservative tactic of (erroneously) conflating the more radical leftist viewpoints with the completely rational belief that U.S. foreign policy bears part of the blame for this tragedy, that violence begets violence, and that future attacks may in part be prevented by worldwide social justice. One may disagree (as I did) with radicals like Riva Enteen, who endorses a blanket resistance to the FBI, but it is a guilt-by-association fallacy to conclude the entire leftist line is "contorted [and] nonlogical." If Mr. Mecklin really wanted to support his jingoistic line, he'd attempt to dent the well-thought-out positions of the intellectual left rather than the straw-man arguments of the radicals.

Now that would take logic and subtlety.

Michael Grafton
Outer Richmond

It may actually be closer to 100 percent, but we don't want to quibble: Regarding your article "Suspicious Behind" (Music, Sept. 26, on impersonator/performance artist eXtreme Elvis), Elvis Presley is the most imitated artist in the world today. Unfortunately, 99 percent of the people who impersonate him are ridiculous and do Elvis' legacy harm.

Elvis became the greatest entertainer of all time, but above all he was a kind and good man, giving away millions of dollars to charities. I would have preferred an article on Elvis himself and the fact that his record label, RCA/BMG, in conjunction with the Red Cross, is set to release a three-track charity single to aid the relatives and friends of those affected by the terrorist tragedy in America.

Brian Quinn
Bedfordshire, England

Understandable, though one shouldn't condemn the whole galaxy for the actions of a few space creatures: Ms. Crawler, very much enjoyed reading your alien article from Sept. 26 ("Alien Culture," Night Crawler, by Silke Tudor, on the UFO Expo and participants' stories of sightings and abductions). I now feel reluctant to say "I'm willing to do anything for the sake of humanity," however, as I do not want rapelike marks on my inner thighs as a result of alien impregnations and the like. Ugh. You're so cool!

Name Withheld
Noe Valley

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