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Monday April 23, 2001

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Letters to the editor

World not so simple

In response to Tom McDermott's column and Shane Dale's supportive letter stating that conservatives are right, I have but one thing to say: I'd like to quote Bertrand Russell, who said, "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." The world is not as simple as some people would like it to be.

Andreas Ekholm

Planetary sciences graduate student

Falun Gong not purely progressive

I am writing to clarify a few points in the April 18 Wildcat article on Falun Gong. First, it is not clear from what you wrote whether Falun Gong is a kind of exercise or a religion. While Miss Liu, your interviewee, claims that it is "not religious," followers of the practice do believe so. Second, Falun Gong is deeply involved in politics and not just "pure" exercise. Third, while the communist government is officially atheist, and the Chinese people are not religious in general, religion itself is never banned in China. Otherwise, it would be hard to explain the existence of millions of believers and the thousands of well-preserved temples and churches in the country.

People only get into trouble when their religious activities take an anti-government direction. I am not sure whether the Chinese government ever killed any participants of Falun Gong, but I have never heard of it "killing people for religious matters," as another interviewee, Castro, said in the report. I am not a communist, nor do I have any preconceived notion about Falun Gong, but judging from what the organization has done, it is anything but a progressive force.

One of its core tenets, for example, is that followers should not see a doctor when sick (its spokesman made that very clear during an interview with ABC's Ted Koppel). Moreover, Falun Gong instigates its followers to consider suicide as a way of reaching "perfection," not even excluding a 10-year-old girl (who was instructed by her mother to burn herself in Tiananmen Square and later died from it).

Similar incidents abound. I'll leave it to you to decide what Falun Gong really is. I only want to say one more thing: Just because the Chinese government bans it, it does not mean that Falun Gong is progressive or desirable. While I do have reservations about the way the Chinese government handled the cult, I do not have any sympathy whatsoever for that they believe or practice. Much of the sentiment expressed in your article is the residue of a Cold War mentality.

Liu Duan

Russian graduate student

U.S. should be less involved in Cuba

One of the main points in Cory Spiller's column was that Cuba has the greatest overall standard of living in all of Latin America. Let me put this into perspective. No other country in Latin America - not Mexico, not Argentina, not anywhere where our "yearning for democracy" has pillaged their lands and peoples - is there a standard of living like that of Cuba. Latin America, as you may or not know, is ruled by local elites who are subordinate to American interests. One may ask: Is there a connection between standard of living and U.S. involvement in their Latin American economies? Well, yes, and the less U.S. involvement, the better.

Also, hate to break it to you, but "communism does not work" does not cut it in Cuba. This government has survived since 1959 with a crippling embargo justified on the mere pretense that "commies are bad," as Peterson amply demonstrated in his largely propagandist letter. Yet it lives on, and every American attempt at destroying this government has failed.

And to end, how is the attempt (Bay of Pigs) of toppling of a new, populist government "justifiable and right?" Imagine every European empire in 1776 banding together to topple Washington and his cohorts. Now imagine the monarchs satisfying their conscious with a simple "Democracy just does not work."

Carlos Chiquete

Physics and astronomy freshman

Indian mascots stereotypical, inappropriate

I am a UA law student, and I respectfully submit the following in response to Tom McDermott's commentary, "Where are the Mascots?"

In his "Where are the Mascots?" commentary, Mr. McDermott truly has gotten to the heart of the controversy surrounding certain school mascots. But what is so surprising is how, even having stated the point himself, he has so completely missed it.

To begin, he asks, "What is a mascot anyway?" Quite simply, he answers, "A symbol of honor and pride, almost primal in nature." Had he stopped right there and thought for a moment, he should have realized just what is so wrong with "mighty and proud Redmen" (but let's leave discussion of the intellectual deficiencies of conservatism for another time).

The problem with Mr. McDermott's definition is that it is right on the mark. Mascots are usually meant to appeal to our basest, most savage, most primal impulses. To that end, we choose as our mascots the basest, most savage, most primal representations. My undergraduate school, the University of California, has as its mascot the California Golden Bear. Grrr. Fearsome, isn't it?

Choosing an "Indian" as a mascot is similarly designed to elicit fear in opponents. The "Indian" mascot inspires its fans to whoops, war paints and Tomahawk chops. (In another setting, the chant could go, "Kill the beast.")

Base, savage, primal. And that is exactly what is wrong with it. "Indian" mascots reduce Native American cultures to "Me Indian, you white man, we smoke peace pipe" and whatever other stereotypes of which you can shamefully think. If Mr. McDermott finds nothing wrong with collapsing an entire ethnicity into a convenient stereotype, then he may as well spell it I-N-J-U-N.

Well, no tribe need specifically elect anyone to raise that objection - it offends all sense of decency.

Kai Yu

UA law student