Email letters, Jan. 19, 2012

Marines should not be judged by civilian standards

I have been intrigued by the variety of reactions to the incident of the Marines urinating on dead Taliban. I am retired from the Army. During my 20 year career, I served two tours in Vietnam. One strong memory that I have of my Vietnam experience is the effect that combat has of stripping away the veneer of civilization from its participants. We take young men from all walks of life, and train them to kill. This, and the experience of being shot at by various weapons, and, for some, being injured by or seeing their friends and fellow soldiers wounded or killed by the enemy, changes them from the nice young men that you thought that you knew.

In the combat zone, language coarsens drastically. The f-word is freely used, often several times in one sentence. A successful ambush, artillery strike or air strike on the enemy is cheered like a win on the athletic field.

Our society placed those young men in the position to be changed from their civilian selves. Please do not judge them like you would someone who commits a crime in our safe civilian society. Yes, what they did was wrong, but they should be judged in the context of their location on a battlefield. They are not criminals. They are young men, serving their country, reacting to their environment, which by civilian standards, is quite unpleasant.

Grand Junction

Reading is essential to getting best information

Thanks to Bill Grant for his Dec. 28 column on the Occupy movement. It gave credibility to the movement, which is sweeping America.

The Occupy movement is assuming different forms in different locations. In Grand Junction, the emphasis has been on foreclosed mortgages; in other locales the emphasis would have to be different because of unique problems facing each area. The Occupiers have yet to define what affects them most in each location.

A number of false assumptions surround the movement. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with being rich. Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey support some excellent charities with their vast wealth. Both have life stories of a tremendous will to succeed against all obstacles.

One must separate the legitimately wealthy from the malefactors. The case against five major banks has been well documented.

Stereotypes abound regarding the protesters, as well. The “get a bath, get a job” epithet is false. The occupiers in Ziccotti Park had collected 5,000 books before police marched in and destroyed them all. There were indications they would be quickly replaced. Many among the protesters in Oakland were college professors; one was a Wordsworth scholar, and one was a Nobel Prize winner.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) is the Senate’s foremost advocate for justice to the middle class. He is up for re-election and faces tough opposition from super PACs, bankrolled by such wealthy corporations as those headed by the Koch brothers Charles and David, the deVos family, founders of Amway and the four Walton sisters, among others. Sanders’ advice to voters: “Turn off your TV sets and read. There are many publications that speak to and for the middle class.”

Read, read, read. Drink deep and learn to separate the spurious from the obvious. And let the conversation begin.

Grand Junction

Wealth makes a difference

A Jan. 18 editorial in The Daily Sentinel, explaining why wealthier people pursue higher education while the less wealthy do not, stated that “the problem is cultural.” This is a misuse of the word “cultural,” and a misrepresentation of the overall situation.

People do not make culture in a vacuum. They make culture in response to their circumstances, as a means both of understanding and coping with them. Culture changes when circumstances change. The thing is that right now circumstances are not changing, except in the sense of getting worse.
It can hardly be the case that less-wealthy people do not recognize the value of education — in this country, we are chronically reminded that education is the pathway to opportunity. But less-wealthy people may not recognize the value of education — for them — and they have good reason. They have to consider whether tuition costs, which will take up proportionately far more of their income that that of a wealthier person, will be worth the uncertain benefit. They lack the type of social networks that can ensure a degree becomes a lucrative career, and they lack fall-back positions if it does not. Their minds are not clouded by “culture”; a rational assessment of their situation quickly yields the sensible conclusion that investment in education simply may not be worth the risk.
Similarly, the wealthy do not succeed because of their culture; they succeed because they are wealthy. What really makes the difference generation after not the values that are passed down, but the money.
Grand Junction

Corporations give people jobs

I find it ironic that Penni Palthe attacks corporations for destroying lives of millions when they are the ones who give people jobs while she ignores people like Barney Frank, Chris Dodd and Maxine Waters that forced banks to make loans to people that really couldn’t afford a home. She needs a big dose of reality.

Grand Junction

Religion was not the problem for high-school football player

In response to the letter “Religion should not be a factor in sports:” “If a man cannot be a Christian in the place where he is, he cannot be a Christian anywhere.” —Henry Ward Beecher.

I worry that the man who wrote that there is no place for religion in sports is not guilty of the same offense many non-Catholics are guilty of when they confuse the one who has trespassed with his religion. i.e. those who suppose the Catholic faith is the problem with priests who have abused children? I worry he is guilty of the same Mikey Weinstein offense who blames Christianity for the real or imagined abuses he said were common at the USAF Academy.

If a man is sincere in his religious practice then — as our Bill of Rights recognized — he ought be allowed free exercise of his religion, regardless of the environment. If the
religion is put on for show and is not sincere such a one will be exposed as a fraud.

I cannot agree with the secularist letter writer. If he has valid evidence of having been denied what was rightfully his, let his put it forward. But religion ought be left out of his complaint.



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Don - Your point is honestly well-taken, but the fact remains that not only was what those Marines did wrong, it was criminal according to the UCMJ, the Rules of Combat as set forth by the Joint Chiefs,  the Geneva Convention, and a host of other international treaties. The Commandant of the Marine Corps has publicly stated that he intends to make sure they are punished to the full extent of military law - and I agree with him.

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