Email letters, Feb. 21, 2012

Preserve the Monument, don’t monetize it

I am a frequent visitor to Colorado National Monument, and I keep abreast of the news surrounding one of my favorite places. Yes, I share the road, even though it is difficult at times. I personally wish that the organized bicycle folks would stop their onslaught on the Monument and the National Park Service. Those who promote these races and events, of course, have a special interest, a self-serving interest and one that involves making money.

Let the individual cyclists continue to travel on Rim Road, and enjoy the sport and the magnificent beauty of the area. Let’s keep the road open for all, regardless of their mode of transportation. I wonder what John Otto would think? He wanted to draw attention to the area, because he wanted to insure a designation that would preserve it. 100 plus years as a National Monument has indeed preserved an area of significance. The National Park Service has been a truly great steward of the area. They have balanced preservation with public use.

Now we have the question of whether or not to make Colorado National Monument a National Park.  A National Park status would not particularly alter the management of the area, and it might bring more visitors. It is my opinion that a lot of promoters of park status are mostly looking at money, in the form of stimulating the local economy.

The real concept to embrace is to insure the on-going preservation of a national asset. Grand Junction is fortunate to have Colorado National Monument in their backyard. Cherish this asset, share the recreational and spiritual experiences, and do so with regard to all visitors.

FRANK SWANCARA, JR.
Cedaredge

Editorial corrupts true meaning of intolerance

I have written only one previous letter to the editor, but the implications of the “Preaching intolerance to the choir” editorial are so disturbing that I am compelled to respond. My comments are not an attack on the editorial staff or anyone at District 51, they are a call for a calm and reasoned look at the facts.

My strong objection to the opinions in this piece is that they revolve around a dangerous, post-modern redefinition of intolerance. The new definition holds that, if I oppose someone else’s opinions (especially religious, political or philosophical opinions), I am intolerant. That immediately marginalizes all who are unafraid to defend strong religious, political or philosophical views — and it corrupts the true meaning of intolerance.

There is nothing intrinsically intolerant about telling you that I think your opinions are wrong. There is nothing fundamentally intolerant about explaining the reasons I cannot accept your opinions. It is only when I refuse to respect you and your right to hold those opinions that my views become intolerant in the correct sense of the word. Such intolerance typically comes with exaggerated personal attacks on those with whom we disagree. For example, if those who disagree with choir director Marcia Wieland resort to personal attacks and insults, that is intolerant and wrong.

Sadly, the op-ed staff seem totally oblivious to their own intolerance. It is intolerant to write that voicing honest concern over the choir director’s judgment is the moral equivalent of pronouncing a death sentence on Salman Rushdie. The same is true of writing that people who exercise their First Amendment rights by objecting to the District’s decision are more similar to fanatical imams than to the founding fathers — those who drafted and ratified the First Amendment.

Implying that tolerance extinguishes my right to criticize someone else’s decisions is illogical and counter-productive. Pretending that I have no objection to anyone else’s opinions is dishonest, disrespectful and patronizing. It is far more respectful to be honest with my Muslim friends and tell them why I could never accept their religious tenets. Why I could not join them in a song that proclaims “there is no truth except Allah.”

Perhaps the saddest thing about this editorial (and some of the related comments) is the underlying “What’s the big deal?” attitude. After all, don’t all religions worship the same God and teach essentially the same things? Aren’t the Allah of Islam and the Jehovah of Judaism and Christianity different faces of the same deity? One need not look very far to determine that Muslims absolutely do not believe that is true (and neither do most Christians and Jews).

Consider the examples of Youcef Nadarkhani in Iran and Asia Bibi in Pakistan. Both are Christians, who have spent the past several years on death row for their refusal to declare that there is no truth except Allah. An Iranian Ayatollah has directed prison personnel to take all necessary measures to induce Pastor Youcef to convert to Islam. And in Pakistan, both a regional governor and a minister in the national government have been assassinated for their opposition to the blasphemy laws, under which Asia Bibi was convicted. These are just two prominent examples of the thousands who have been imprisoned, tortured, mutilated or martyred because of their “intolerant” refusal to embrace Allah as the only truth.

Am I anti-Muslim? Absolutely not. Do I disagree with Islamic religious tenets? Absolutely. But my honest, respectful disagreement does not constitute intolerance, nor is it “hypocritical hooey.”

And, by the way, I do not infer that Ms. Wieland had sinister motives; it sounds as if she handled the situation pretty well by briefing parents in advance. That said, I do not think she understands that the Rahman lyrics are far more than just words to devout Muslims and that makes them more than just words to Christians who understand that fact.

BOB STEVENS
Grand Junction

Rejecting our Christian roots will be our undoing

Per The Daily Sentinel editorial on Feb. 19: Surely, no serious person believes the School District is a Western Slope Taliban. Neither should concerned people be considered paranoid. Muslims consider the song an expression of faith, not merely for its “rhythms and other qualities.” That should be respected. 

The editorial stated, “What sets this country apart from Islamic theocracies ... is that we allow free expression of ideas, regardless of one’s religious or ideological background.” Yet, ideologies acted out bear consequences. Sept. 11, 2001 was the uninhibited and overt expression of ideas. The nature of one’s free expression matters a great deal.


Multiculturalism is a mark of a free society. Yet, the term is a misnomer, because one “culture” will be the prevailing influence. We are not, nor have ever been, a Christian nation. Yet, from the American Revolution, when English kings cursed Presbyterian rebels, to the Civil Rights era, led by a Baptist minister, Christianity nurtured our society’s concept of human dignity and capacity for self-criticism. 


Europe staggers under rejection of its Christian roots, and embrace of multiculturalism run rampant. In Germany, the anemic faith of nominal Christianity is boxed between two extremes: rise of neo-nazism and, as Robert Carle writes in Touchstone Journal, Jan/Feb 2012, “the energetic faith of European Muslims, who see Germany as a place that is ripe for conversion and domination.”

Meanwhile, moral tepidity infects every level of American culture for whom freedom is entitlement, responsibility is anathema and morals are scorned. We glory in the outrageous and uninhibited as antidote for our boredom, and we crown each new high-tech gadget as our next messiah as we continue our march toward — as Neil Postman envisioned 25 years ago — “amusing ourselves to death.”

One wonders if our future will prove to be so amusing.



BILL FORBES
Whitewater

Simpson should not comment on candidates

I was disappointed to read the comments made by Alan Simpson at the Colorado Mesa University campus this week about some of the Republican candidates. As a former Republican U.S. senator he should not be in the business of name calling fellow Republicans.

To call a potential presidential candidate a homophobe because he does not believe in same-sex marriage is classless. Let’s not forget this country was founded on Christian principals and it’s those principles that once made this country great. “Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves ... will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). 

You can also read Romans 1:26-27, 1 Timothy 1:8:10, and Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13.

We don’t need any additional moderate Republicans, we need conservative leaders grounded in the teachings of Jesus Christ. 

BRANDON SIEGFRIED
Grand Junction



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