Image by Orin Zebest via Flickr Creative Commons

Letters to the Editor

 Parks Near Freeways Are Disgusting

By Barbara Christl

(Editor’s note: This comment is in reference to “More Poison Parks Planned” in the February 2015 issue.)

Thank you Kevin Hall for continuing to speak out on issues related to clean air, transportation and smart growth. My daughter has a new baby (now six months of age). I have been concerned about the Valley air for the past 40 years, but I am even more horrified seeing our young baby growing in such an unhealthy environment.

There is a darling photo from last November. My daughter walked with the baby in her stroller to cast her vote so the picture of the baby has a little “I voted” sticker on her shirt. Unseen in the picture is the unhealthy air that day. I was visiting just before they left to go vote so I felt saddened to see the baby, who should be out getting fresh air, strolling in pollution. In my mind’s eye, I envisioned a political cartoon showing a mother strolling her baby to the voting booth—both wearing surgical masks.

Please count on me to work for clean air. I am disgusted by the recent City [of Fresno] general plan. Parks near freeways—really?

 

Charlie Hebdo: Abuse of Influence

By Stuart Coulter Woolf 

(Editor’s note: This comment is in response to Hannah Brandt’s article, “Why I Am Not Charlie Hebdo,” in the February 2015 issue.)

Personally, I don’t buy the argument that Charlie Hebdo was fundamentally “an abuse of power by elite, White men of Christian heritage picking on the most marginalized in society.” Charlie Hebdo ridiculed Islam because Islam is regularly used by powerful people in the Muslim world to channel the anger of the masses against each other and the West, just as religious leaders in our country routinely abuse their influence for all sorts of reasons. (Charlie Hebdo ridicules them too.) The geopolitical version of Islam that affects those of us who do not practice the religion in our private lives (and many of those who do) is far from a positive force in the world, so why portray it as a beautiful thing?

 

Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie!

By Cherylyn Smith

Hannah Brandt’s cogent article on the issue of Charlie Hebdo cartoons inspired me to examine the right to free speech. It is dismaying to assume that anyone’s right to free speech automatically entails a validation of the content put forth. I want to untangle that assumption.

Free speech is not an “end all and be all,” though it is an irrefutable right for every person in a free society to exercise. It is a gateway by which ideas are placed in the public domain for all to consider. Free speech thereby generates multiple perspectives on any issue. Accordingly, Charlie Hebdo cartoons are now on the table and subject to scrutiny.

My criterion for viewing the cartoons in which Muhammad was desecrated is that they must have a redeeming sociopolitical message. I did not find one. I found dehumanized caricatures, reflecting propaganda.

The cartoons reveal an ethnocentric worldview. In its effort to cement its anti-religion position, Charlie Hebdo seems to be oblivious that humor is a highly culturally determined aspect of human behavior. What makes one group of people laugh, another frequently does not recognize. Multicultural sensitivity was burned at the altar of a hegemonic, Western cartoon mentality.

The cartoons exhibit an even more disturbing disregard for the psychological torture methods implemented in Abu Ghraib and how they continue to resonate throughout the world. One method was to desecrate Muhammad and to burn the Qur’an; another was to expose victims’ genitals, accompanied by flagrant laughter, which bears a strong resemblance to the gratuitous pornographic treatment that Hebdo gave to Muhammad, as if humorous.

I praise the French government for recognizing the Palestinian State, just weeks before the attack on Charlie Hebdo’s office. The international community needs to move forward, not backward from there, with inclusive solutions, not divisiveness. Charlie Hebdo cartoons unfortunately exacerbate divisiveness.

 

How Ironic

By Norman Lambert

I find it ironic, living in Fresno, where Spanish speakers are the majority, that the Community Alliance newspaper comes with two editions, one English, one Spanish. However, the Spanish edition is at the “back of the bus,” so to speak, and upside down. So is the message, “if you speak Spanish only please move to the back of the bus and stand on your head so that you can read your upside down part of the paper?” Just wondering. What would happen if the Spanish edition was in front and the English section was in the back, upside down? Would that offend us Anglo subscribers? Again, just wondering.

  • The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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