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Letters to the Editor

More Like Neighborhood Witch

ON SUNDAY afternoon, I pulled my Volkswagen Vanagon in front of a beautifully landscaped home in the Banana Belt to make a phone call and enjoy a few minutes of rest and shade. All the curtains were open and the sliding door partly opened. The woman from the home I parked in front of knocked on my open door and aggressively said, "What are you doing?" I said, "Uhhhh, just relaxing a bit and making a phone call, why?"  She said, "We have a Neighborhood Watch here and I want you to know that. There has been a lot of violence lately." I looked at her and said, "You feel threatened by me?" She said, "You are parked in front of my house." I said, "So?" There I was, a 50-year-old woman, dressed in a summer skirt, laughing to a phone conversation. I had only been there about 20 minutes.

Has her Neighborhood Watch turned into neighborhood paranoia? People now turning to "policing" everyone they don't know? Treating strangers as potential criminals?

A lot of good that will do! This is reminiscent of the "good Germans." Is this the new "good American?" If she really wants to help the community, she could consider turning her efforts to the struggle of social and economic justice. Period.

Debra Schaffer,

Santa Cruz

Kent State Article Hit Home

WHAT A powerful story ("America's Kids," Currents, April 28). I remember the news reports at the time, but to hear a firsthand account like this really brings it home. It's so appropriate to what's going on right now, with the anticipated protests of Arizona's new immigration law. Times change, the issues change, but people don't seem to. Excellent writing—very thought provoking!

Barbara Hauser,

Comment posted on

And Again

I WAS very moved by the account. I was born and raised in India, and I was not aware of the massacre until I arrived in the U.S. in the late '80s. I visited Kent State for a conference in the '90s, and as my to-be husband (a Canadian) filled me in on the details of what happened standing by the memorial, I kept repeating, I don't get it (the violence), I don't get it. I don't understand the choice to respond to violence (innocent or other) with violence.I wonder if there is a way to get the students, university administrators, the army officials involved, the public, to speak about it today. ...

I wish you peace and much success with the book. Your writing is powerful!

Sangeeta Dhawan,

Posted on

Throw the Scoundrels Out

LOCAL GOVERNMENT spent $900,000 in federal stimulus funds repaving the road to the wharf, instead of keeping 23 teachers in local high schools for a year. Like most people, I'd rather see a few cracks in the road than teens playing hooky because their class is overcrowded. At Santa Cruz High School, $1 million was spent flattening an already flat track surface, a $65,000 job. Another 23 teacher jobs would have been the priority to keep up.

Capitola spent their $900,000 repaving 41st Avenue instead of rebuilding Rispin, keeping more library hours or after-school programs going. One could argue that, in a town that made its own cement, a tiny million-dollar skate park was another severely overpriced waste of government spending.

New supervisor, new councilmembers.

Billy Quealy,

Santa Cruz

We Are the Huddled Masses

WE BREATHE across oceans. We stare across rivers. We peer over mountain tops that range our borders. We are surrounded by natural walls and yet they come. By raft, by run, they sneak as if crossing battle lines in the night, they come. They slip by mule, by horse, from both land and sea. They risk life. They risk limb. There are bullets and billy clubs. There are storms, hunger, disease and death and still they come. For life, for family and for theory, for hope they come. They come because they see lands of gold, hear of prosperity, they come for a sip at the nectar of milk and honey that is freedom. They come. They want a taste. They want what they see and believe. They want what we show and display for the world to see, they come.

We don't remember, but it happened in 1886. We forget to stand by it, as it has been and is still the symbol of what we believe, what we are, and what we have. We have and they see and they come. Slapped in the face they come. Beaten they come. Scorched and disheveled they come, because we asked and told and declared by a Lazarus at the foot of a Colossus. She stands looking far and wide. Not like the great ancient stone, wooden leviathans now past, this great she at our golden gates calling. Some of us hate and still they come. They come tentative, hopeful and frightened, hiding their faces they come. They come to chase the dream we all chase every day. We don't remember, but we came, by land and by sea. Some forced, some willing, but we came. We believed and we thrived. We don't remember, but we came.

We must remember who we are. We must remember we have opened our bosom to the world, for it is what made us. It is what we are. We are the children of the tired and the poor. We must remember that we are the children of the huddled masses who once hoped to be free. We are the children of the wretched refuse and today we still speak through silent lips, of blessings to God this land we inherited, your land and mine, from mountains to prairies, from sea to shining sea. We must remember that we say every day, "Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me." Our representative standing with her lamp raised beside the golden door. Our Lady, Liberty.

James Gabriel,

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