To the Editor:
Before celebrating the RDC's round one win (City Beat, May 27th issue), Memphians need to be aware of Riverfront Development Corporation's agenda. Because of RDC's wish to have a plan with a grand vision, it is vital that it comes up with land that can be developed. Thus its effort to privatize the promenade, its desire to add a 50- to 75-acre land bridge, and its plan to remove the I-40 off-ramps and possibly The Pyramid.
Then there is the planned riverboat landing, originally estimated to cost $10 million and now projected at $20 million. This project, which is to provide a place for the privately operated tourist boats to dock, is necessary because the land bridge will close the current landing site. RDC has never explained why a $20 million facility needs to be built. How can they spend public money without accountability? Certainly the riverboats aren't going to fund the cost.
The RDC's grand vision will ultimately cost in excess of $680 million, which is out of scale with what Memphis should be committing to this limited area.
To the Editor:
With the death of Ronald Reagan, the revision of history is well underway to portray the former president as a saint. He was not. There are things to respect about Reagan, but there are facts about him that cannot be ignored.
Foremost, Reagan is largely responsible for the right-wing takeover of the Republican Party. While Reagan is now being credited with single-handedly bringing down the communist Soviet Union, most of that credit should go to Mikhail Gorbachev and internal problems in the Eastern bloc, including militant Muslims whom Reagan armed and called "freedom fighters." He increased military spending so much that he economically crippled both superpowers and left the legacy of a $3 trillion debt.
Reagan joined together the rich corporate elite and working-class religious conservatives. Reagan was a close ally of the Moral Majority and Rev. Jerry Falwell, and his views about homosexuality and gays mirrored those of the Christian Right. Reagan should be remembered as the bigot who saw AIDS as God's plague upon sinful behavior. He should be remembered as the man who undermined the Constitution and international law by selling weapons to Iranian terrorists and illegally funneling the profits to terrorists in Central America to overthrow a democratically elected government in Nicaragua.
If there are any doubts about Reagan's antigay bigotry, just read the collection of his recently published letters, in which he attacks the Democratic Party's 1984 platform supporting gay rights as "political pandering" and compared the gay rights movement to "hedonistic humanism." Reagan was no friend of gay people, "welfare queens," labor, the environment, or poor people. That also should be part of his legacy.
To the Editor:
Paula Byrnes' letter (June 3rd issue) is appalling. She cries "enough already" and calls the attention given to the prison abuse scandals "misplaced outrage."
We have a right to be outraged. Our military completely disregarded the Geneva Conventions in its inhumane treatment and imprisonment of Iraqi citizens. The Army now admits that most of the detainees were never even charged with a crime, much less murder or terrorism, as Byrnes wrote. If the tables were turned and the victims were American citizens, I doubt she would consider our outrage misplaced.
"How about remembering September 11th?" she asks. How about remembering Osama bin Laden and Afghanistan? How about remembering that none of the 9/11 hijackers were from Iraq? We have been misled by a president who is abusing his powers to fulfill a family vendetta. We were led into preemptive war by a manipulative administration that apparently has no qualms about lying to the American people and the UN. I am happy for the Iraqi children who have new schools and the sick who now have medicine -- if only all American citizens were guaranteed such luxuries.
And, finally, I am aghast at Byrnes' referral to Saddam Hussein as "the most dangerous enemy the world has ever known." I hope she is not seriously trying to imply that Saddam's regime was worse than that of Adolph Hitler's Nazi Germany.
God bless President Bush? God bless the people whose lives and homes we have destroyed. Our "war on terrorism" is only creating more terrorists and a perpetual cycle of war. Violence begets violence. Byrnes' blind faith scares me and her arrogance shames me.
This week it starts in earnest — the questioning. You can't escape it. It comes from your spouse, your kids, your parents — at the breakfast table, in the car, on the phone, via email: "What do you want for Christmas?" ...