To the Editor:
Thank you for Mary Cashiola's article about the dismal state of funding for the University of Memphis and higher education in general in Tennessee ("Money For Nothing, Leaks For Free," January 31st issue). Having recently moved here, I am stunned by the incredible lack of investment in the future of this state's young people. A well-funded university is critical in shaping not only a well-educated and thus higher-paid work force but also civic pride.
Having lived in Boulder, Colorado, Minneapolis, and Providence, Rhode Island, I know that great universities make great cities. Faculty at the University of Memphis are paid ridiculously low salaries, especially when compared to national averages. The general lack of respect by state congressional leaders for public education makes it clear why so many talented thinkers and educators are leaving the state. Perhaps it all boils down to the honkers at the capitol declaiming a would-be income tax. However, such a tax would be but a minute investment compared to the benefits reaped by a stronger, smarter, better-paid public in Tennessee.
To the Editor:
I wonder if William W. Wood read the same article that I read (Letters, January 31st issue). I found no attack on the "American founding and Christianity" in Chris Davis' story. But I was curious about Mr. Wood's comments regarding the "When the Missionaries came to Africa ... " quote. He claims "no other quotes attack a religion other than this attack on the work of Christian missionaries."
After a quick Internet search I found the quote attributed to Desmond Tutu. The Emory International Law Review excerpts an article by Tutu in which he uses the quote and follows it with these lines: "It would, on the surface, appear as if we had struck a bad bargain, but the fact of the matter is that we came out of that transaction a great deal better off than when we started. The point is that we were given a priceless gift in the word of God: the gospel of salvation, the good news of God's love ... But even more wonderful is the fact that we were given the most subversive, most revolutionary thing around. Those who may have wanted to exploit us and to subject us to injustice and oppression should really not have given us the Bible, because that placed dynamite under their nefarious schemes."
An attack on a religion? No, it is an attack on oppressors. Many people who lived under the oppressive, communist Soviet Union might agree with this statement. I am a Christian and an anti-communist. I saw the controversial library artwork only once, but I remember quotes from many sources and remember liking some and not liking others. I even remember a large picture of Jesus Christ.
Some people spend a lot of effort and time attacking inconsequential issues because they lack something in themselves to deal with matters of real importance. It reminds me of the Cowardly Lion who went after Toto when he found that he couldn't deal with the bigger folks. "I'll get you anyway, peewee," he said.
There's a quote for you.
To the Editor:
Who is this modern-day John of Arc crusading to rule the artistic and intellectual thought surrounding our new public library? William Wood propounds his personal viewpoint as representative of the world of Christian belief. Further, he bases his current campaign on the popular myth that our nation was founded on some pure Christian doctrine.
I think Mr. Wood would be shocked to read the personal theologies of our principal Founding Fathers. Many, like George Washington, professed deism, agnosticism, and even, a few, atheism. Thomas Jefferson openly questioned the divinity of Jesus. Many of our other revolutionary heroes, including James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Paine, were deists and were openly critical of Christianity and other "revealed religions."
Most of the early European settlers on our shores were refugees from religious oppression imposed by just such self-appointed guardians of public morals and faith as Wood. He does not represent the beliefs of our nation's settlers; rather he resembles their persecutors. Wood and his coalition would do well to remember that our American reverence, expressed by the phrase "In God We Trust," is not an exclusively Christian concept.
Wood speaks of First Amendment rights being violated by the ideas and slogans inscribed at the library entrance. In fact, it is Wood who seeks to turn the First Amendment on its ear by censoring our ideas, by attempting to dictate and to limit how we may think.
David Ginsberg, Lt. Colonel, U.S. Army (Retired)
Correction: In this week's "We Recommend" column (page 24) it is incorrectly reported that Andy Grooms is playing at the Lounge on Tuesday, February 12th. Grooms is playing at the Hi-Tone on that date.
The Memphis Flyer encourages reader response. Send mail to: Letters to the Editor, POB 1738, Memphis, TN 38101. Or call Back Talk at 575-9405. Or send us e-mail at email@example.com. All responses must include name, address, and daytime phone number.