Be respectful of opposing views to war

It kind of goes without saying that the war on Iraq is a topic of much debate not just here in BG but all over the country and the world. And while I strongly disagree with this war, which is being conducted not only outside of the Geneva Convention but also without U.N. sanction, it is amazing that so many people with all different takes on the war are able to express their views on the war openly and honestly without fear of retribution from the government or other public figures.

I have, however, noticed something rather disturbing. People on either side of the debate seem to be completely close-minded to any other argument. I’m not saying that we should all agree, although that would be nice. What I’m saying is that, agree or disagree, we must respect one another’s opinions.

Perhaps the best example of this I can think of occurred on Monday. Some friends and I were enjoying the weather and talking outside of West Hall when we noticed a student walk up to one of the wooden kiosks on campus and begin tearing down a number of flyers. The flyers in question were a number of small posters containing anti-war sentiments like: “Do You Feel Safer Now?” Having torn down every flyer on the board the student proceeded to throw them all on the ground and walk off.

I was disgusted. Agree or disagree, nothing gives anyone the right to destroy a non-offensive flyer, for either side. And what made it worse was the littering. Having witnessed this, my friends and I walked over and helped a faculty member clean up the mess, salvaging the flyers that were not completely destroyed and re-stapling them to the kiosk. This action was tantamount to vandalism, to say nothing of the censorship issues at hand, and deeply disturbing. In these times of war, please, please remember that the First Amendment, which grants American citizens the freedom of speech so long as it does no specific harm to anyone nor is libel, is the first amendment because it is the most important.

One more thing while we’re on the topic. Please stop telling me that I’m un-American, not a patriot or that I don’t support the troops simply because I oppose the war. It’s a lie. Now let’s bring home our troops before any more are harmed.

Jon Meinhold STUDENT

Saddam had nothing to do with Sept. 11

According to studies, approximately 45 percent of Americans are convinced that Saddam Hussein and Iraq were personally involved in the attack on the World Trade Center. This opinion is factually inaccurate, but no-one ever let facts should get in the way of a good, solid opinion; those leftist liberals at Langley, the CIA, have confirmed this. Bush Jr. appears to be one of those convinced of this truism — at least if you believe his speeches are genuine and honest. Why so many people should be so utterly sure of something so utterly wrong is confusing for those who want to believe in the power of education, but really when you stop to consider it, its not too hard to posit why.

According to a recent Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting investigation, we, the people, might be on the receiving end of some less-than-accurate journalism. Between Jan. 30 and Feb. 12, the period of most intensive debate about the “potential” war with Iraq, they took note of every television station that covered the issue. I will quote from their findings:

Seventy-six percent of all sources were current or former officials, leaving little room for independent and grassroots views. Similarly, 75 percent of U.S. sources (199/267) were current or former officials.

At a time when 61 percent of U.S. respondents were telling pollsters that more time was needed for diplomacy and inspections (2/6), only 6 percent of U.S. sources on the four networks were skeptics regarding the need for war.

Sources affiliated with anti-war activism were nearly non-existent. On the four networks combined, just three of 393 sources were identified as being affiliated with anti-war activism — less than 1 percent. Just one of 267 U.S. sources was affiliated with anti-war activism — less than half a percent.

This degree of open-minded and broad-based reportage is a testament to freedom, democracy and the fourth estate. Is it really any wonder that 45 percent of Americans believe such an unsupportable chunk of war-mongering propaganda?

“But why,” I hear you ask, “would the press be so biased, when their very watchwords are truth, openness and impartiality?” Who can really say? Perhaps the public has honestly forgiven Oliver North, currently to be seen on Fox News, for channeling tax money to fund cocaine smuggling terrorists, then lying to congress about it. Maybe they have forgotten what went on all those many years ago, back in the dark mists of time, circa 1986. Maybe they just don’t care. These are difficult questions to answer, certainly far more difficult than putting the boot into Oliver North’s credibility as a purveyor of truth.

Perhaps, just perhaps, and call me paranoid, the media actually wants to see more wars. They might make for boring TV after all the blood, guts and screaming death have been edited from the raw footage, but they are still a ratings winner, the diplomatic equivalent of the Superbowl. Perhaps, and again, call me a deranged conspiracy theorist, the fact that the media giants are subsidiaries of weapons manufacturers might have something to do with their preoccupation with war and political conservatism. For instance, NBC is part of the megalithic General Electric corp., one of the worlds’ largest manufacturers and military jet engines and nuclear turbines.

Oh, forget it. I’m wrong. There is no “conspiracy”; the media have a liberal bias, obviously, and this war is all about stopping terrorism in its tracks. Go watch the latest explosions/tank races/flag waving on a channel of your choice, and pay no attention to the fact that people are dying under all that sexy ordinance.

Certainly, ignore the giant ideological leap you are required to make when swallowing all this patriotic, “support the troops” crap, while simultaneously swallowing budget cuts on everything worth anything in this country.

Eoin Howe