Public Comment

Additional Letters to the Editor

Friday March 03, 2006

EDITOR’S NOTE: We have recently received more than letters than we can possible print. Therefore the following letters appear only on our website. 


Out of Context at  

Berkeley High 

Editors, Daily Planet:  

With all the hoopla and hand-wringing over Muslim response to the Danish cartoons, I wonder if it would bother the Berkeley High School faculty and administration if their students were being encouraged to take Mohammad and the Quran out of context. My guess is that the educators at Berkeley High are very concerned that their students learn NOT to take anything Islamic out of context (as well they should). Yet literally carved into the very building of Berkeley High School is a statement taken greatly out of context and this is, I assume, perfectly OK with the faculty and staff.  

Emblazoned on one of Berkeley High School’s main buildings is the statement: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” It might interest the educators there to know that this statement is originally found in the Bible on the lips of Jesus Christ. And if any of them bothered to check the context of this statement by Jesus, I doubt they would want the statement on their building any longer. The proper context is thus: “Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you remain in My word, then you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free…If therefore the Son (i.e., Jesus Christ) shall make you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:32, 36). I wonder if Berkeley High School students are taught that the “truth” being referred to in the statement carved into their building is the truth of Jesus Christ’s words in the Bible, not general sociological, anthropological, psychological, chemical, or any other truth? The context makes this clear. I’m sure students are NOT being taught this. So, I guess the Bible can be quoted out of context for whatever educational purpose Berkeley High wants, and who cares if the students don’t know, right? But can anyone imagine a school having a Quranic verse carved into it’s building so blatantly distorted and out of context? I think not. That’s all right, Christians will ‘take it,’ right? So what’s the lesson being taught to Berkeley High students? Precisely this: You may take the Bible and Jesus Christ, who is worshipped by billions of people on this planet, out of context, but don’t dare take other writings (Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu, you name it) out of context. Bad example, Berkeley High School!  

Michael Duenes 

Berkeley and Beyond Institute 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Theodore Roszak got his only laugh at a January reading from this book at Cody’s when he referred to a New Yorker cartoon in which one bearded hippy assures another that he speaks for the whole human race. Roszak knows that he speaks for a very small number of people and it is no laughing matter. What makes him angry is not just any one of the policies or activities of the Bush administration but their underlying thrust: the extension of an American empire into global dominance that he calls Triumphalism. 

While loaded with wit and topical references what sets this book apart from most other critiques of the Bush administration is the author’s penetration into the underlying presuppositions, policies and people that give that viewpoint such force. Roszak sees three factors that combine for a “perfect storm” historically: Corporations, Neo-con intellectuals and Religious fundamentalists. He shows how they developed, gained power and continue in control of American politics through money and guns and belief.  

There is no easy way out of this storm and Roszak does not forecast any lessening of its force any time soon. But all is not lost. There are soft spots in the Imperial movement and tough resources in its small but growing opposition. Roszak appeals to an international audience to limit and correct American policy through intellectual, diplomatic and economic means. This same appeal is made to Americans with the addition of stress on the religious element in which progressive churches are urged to mount a full-scale critique to the fundamentalist right wing and its politics. While not itself a program the book offers the basis for a systematic alternative. 

Roszak’s work reminds me of Augustine amid the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. Both have an historical sense that allows them to participate in their own time and to some extent transcend it while giving directions to it. Augustine wrote from the perspective of faith that saw the City of God enduring even as the City of Man declined. Having Augustine, we need not require Roszak to pass some doctrinal test. We only need him to keep telling the truth as he sees it. However, the fact that he closes the book by quoting Jesus and sees connections between the Jesus People and the Counter Culture that has relevance today should hearten religious leaders. The same week in which he read from his book at Cody‚s the Pacific School of Religion launched a progressive Christian website to add to the existing 

In the Doonesbury cartoon of Sunday Jan. 29 Garry Trudeau pictures a small group of soldiers in Iraq questioning those who put them there. One replies that the neo-con architects of this war—Perle, Rice, Wolfowitz—can’t ignore the consequences of their action and in time some will become tragic figures haunted by the bloody history they helped author. He concludes, “Every outfit has someone like me. We’re usually called ‘professor.’” In our case, that includes Professor Roszak. 

David Randolph 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

There is a simple way out of our current national nightmare of being ruled by the illegitimate Bush-Cheney regime. Instead of going through the inevitable coming impeachment, trial, conviction and removal of Cheney and Bush, with all its partisan unpleasantries, it would be much better for all, if they simply resigned and allowed Al Gore and John Edwards to replace them. These changes would restore legitimacy to our federal government.  

First, Bush would pardon himself, Cheney and their administration staff members for all of their thousands of felonies, high crimes and misdemeanors that they have committed since stealing the presidential election in 2000 with the connivance of five partisan Supreme Court justices.  

Second, Bush would ask Vice President Dick Cheney to resign and he would do so. Then Bush would appoint Al Gore as the new vice president and the Senate would then confirm him. Next Bush would resign and return to his horseless and cattleless ranch in Crawford, Texas and resume cutting brush. Then President Al Gore would appoint John Edwards as vice president and he would be confirmed by the Senate. This transition will allow Bush, Cheney, et al to avoid serving long prison terms for their many criminal acts. Letting them all off the legal hook for their crimes is the tradeoff necessary for us to get our democracy back. 

With our American democracy restored, we, the people, and the new Gore-Edwards administration could get on with the enormous task of cleaning up the messes, quagmires, morasses and other assorted problems created over the past five years of the illegitimate, corrupt and incompetent Bush regime.  

First, we will immediately and unconditionally withdraw all of our troops, mercenaries and officials out of Iraq and Afghanistan. We need to let the Iraqis and Afghanis determine their own destinies without any further American interference. We need to end our war on the poor people of the third world and let them live their own lives without American interference. 

Second, we will rescind all of the absurd tax cuts for the rich enacted by the GOP and Bush in the last five years. We need to get a grip on our federal budget deficits and reduce them to zero as President Clinton did in the 1990s.  

Third, we will create a single-payer federal universal health insurance system that will cover all Americans. It will include health care, dental care, vision care, nursing home care and pharmaceutical drugs for all Americans. This bold and long overdue step will probably immediately cut health care costs by about a third and will also greatly slow down future health care cost increases.  

Fourth, we will immediately return to time-tested traditional hand-counted paper ballots in all of our elections. We will dump all of the electronic computerized voting machines and electronic computerized vote tabulating machines into the nearest bodies of water. Actually, a few of them should be saved as exhibits in Museums of Corporate Greed, which will be established in towns and cities across this great land, to educate present and future generations. These actions will end the practice of the GOP electronically hacking, rigging and stealing of computerized elections in 2002, 2004 and 2005. 

Fifth, all elections will be 100 percent publicly funded. There will be plenty of time for extended debates and discussions made available on our publicly owned airwaves (television and radio). All in person lobbying by special interest groups with campaign donations and gifts will be outlawed. They can write letters to government representatives, just like the rest of us. 

Sixth, we will end all illegal spying and wiretapping and eavesdropping by the NSA, the CIA, the Pentagon and other government organizations. All such wiretaps and surveillance will need to be approved by the FISA court or other courts before being undertaken.  

Seventh, we will break the monopoly grip of a few major corporations on our public airwaves (radio and television) and return the public airwaves to broadcasting by non-profit public interest groups. 

Eighth, we will rewrite our NAFTA, WTO and other international trade agreements to protect our traditional American manufacturing jobs and our new technology jobs from being exported around the world. We will take our manufacturing jobs back from China and we will take our technology jobs back from India. The label, “Made in the USA” used to a point of pride. We can make American shoes for American feet in factories located here in the USA. 

Ninth, we can raise federal corporate tax levels to the traditional rates imposed back in the 1950s. Corporations need to pay their fair share of taxes since they greatly benefit from the sound and secure functioning of our complicated infrastructure. Multinational corporations that sell products to us need to pay taxes that they are currently evading and avoiding by offshoring their headquarters in little Caribbean island nations. Oil companies, pharmaceutical manufacturing companies, HMOs and credit card banks are all making obscene and growing profits. Credit cards need to have an interest ceiling equal to the current prime interest rate, about 6 percent, not at 12 percent, 18 percent or 27 percent interest rates now being charged. Traditional Muslim culture does not permit the charging of any interest on loans; this may help explain some of the Bush-Cheney Administration’s extreme hostility to Muslim cultures. 

Tenth, we need to establish a federal minimum wage of ten dollars per hour plus an annual four week paid vacation for all workers. This will help allow all Americans to enjoy the American dream. 

James K. Sayre