Letters to the editor
Signs of endurance
An exchange of support in times that try men's souls
Editor, The Times:
We have all been saddened and shocked by the terrible tragedy that took place at the Jewish Federation offices. The King County Women's Advisory Board offers its condolences and would like to pay tribute to an agency that has contributed greatly to the entire community through its ongoing support of a broad network of health, human-service, educational and community-building agencies in the greater Seattle area, in Israel and around the world.
We know that they support the building of strong relationships, both inside and outside of the Jewish community. We want to offer them our support as well as our admiration for their strength in the face of this crisis.
— Susan Weeks, chair, Peggy Ann Leonard, Roberta Sherwood; King County Women's Advisory Board, Seattle
Crisis of faith
A sad passage in the struggle for understanding
It is a sad day for both the Jewish and Muslim communities in Seattle with the recent shooting inside [the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle] in which one Jewish woman was shot dead, and three seriously wounded.
Sad for the Jewish community at the senseless killing of one of their own. Sad for the Muslim community because they have to wear this one. They are the aggressors. They are the ones demonstrating their hatred of the Jewish community, and radical Muslims bear the responsibility of desiring to eradicate all and every vestige of Israel and all it represents.
The moderate Muslims in the world in general, and in Seattle in particular, must work extremely hard in the areas of gentleness, acts of kindness and charity toward both the Jewish community and other non-believing communities in order to repair their credibility.
If not, they risk not only the public's continued outrage at this heinous and cowardly act, but they risk a continuing cynicism and skepticism by a wary public, as they continue their spiral into the darkness of isolation within Seattle's community. Seattle's Muslims must do all they can to repair this egregious breach in breaking faith within their communities.
Likewise, it appears to me the Jewish community in Seattle has a weighty decision as to where they go with this atrocity perpetrated against them. Simple answers aren't so forthcoming.
— Brian Batke, Cloverdale, B.C., Canada
The unchanged mind
[Jewish Federation shooting suspect] Naveed Haq's story is tragic ["Decade of mental illness came to deadly climax," Local News, July 30].
Bipolar mental illness is a very serious illness that causes radical changes in personality and in perceptions of reality. Untreated, it progresses. Mentally ill persons are not required to take medication and to get treatment. Yet if a mother decides that her child will not get chemo for cancer, her parental rights are taken from her and the child is treated.
Untreated mental illness or inadequately treated mental illness can cause tragedies beyond the individual with the disease and the family. However, we only punish the individual and do not see the larger picture.
We need to change our thinking about mental illness. In most cases the only victims are the mentally ill individual and his family. In Haq's case, it went beyond the family.
We don't want to violate individual civil rights for the mentally ill, but instead we allow his or her illness to progress to the point where real harm is done that cannot be reversed.
The ones responsible for Haq's crime are all of us. When are we going to do something different?
— Sherye Hanson, Kent
I was shocked by "Hate or terrorism, it touches us all" [editorial, July 30]. In it, The Times used a tragic incident — the murder of an innocent and much-loved Jewish woman by a hate-filled Muslim nut — as a springboard to argue against America's support of Israel. How callous and unfeeling! Disgraceful.
You say we need to grieve for the dead and wounded. Yes, we do. In Lebanon, sure, but how about also in Israel? Who upbraids Hezbollah or Hamas when they deliberately target — without any warning — children and civilians? Israel takes pains to warn civilians to leave their targeted areas. Israel at least tries to avoid hitting civilians.
Israel has never historically been the aggressor, but has been in a position of defending itself since ... forever. It is obvious that Israel attacks strategic and military targets; its enemy attacks children and civilians. Israel values human life. The culture of Hezbollah values "honor."
But the world chastises Israel. The world insists it stop fighting to defend itself. When is the world going to insist the terrorists stop targeting and killing innocents?
— Barbara Extract, Issaquah
The ineffable named
Jewish Federation, Hezbollah, Mel Gibson, the war in Iraq, 9/11, Taliban, Northern Ireland, Aryan Nation, Bosnia, apartheid, Iran, the Mossad, the Six-Day War, the Holocaust, missionary abuse of indigenous people, Spanish Inquisition, Crusades, on and on and on.
The Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths all derive from worship of the God of Abraham. Taken together, these three religions have offered nothing but war, death and destruction for some 3,000 years.
Fear not the WMDs. Fear the people who claim to know God.
— Steven Black, Burien
Members of the wedding
The mother's gift
I've been thinking a lot about motherhood lately, from my own childhood to my potential future as a parent. I lost my mother a couple of weeks ago. She and my sister were shot while hiking the same trails we grew up on.
An AE2 parent approached me at the school memorial. After telling me how much her kids loved Mary, she pointed out her female partner across the crowd. She added that my mother had always made their family feel included in the library.
I feel especially proud to be Mary Cooper's daughter in moments like these. It was the love and justice that filled her shelves and curriculum that made her such a powerful educator. She always made everyone feel included.
Amidst these small celebrations and the pain of losing my mother and sister, I was devastated to learn that our Supreme Court upheld the ban on same-sex marriages ["State Supreme Court upholds gay marriage ban," Local News, July 26].
That my future family would be seen as a threat to anyone, rather than a celebration of everything beautiful that's been passed on to me, is heartbreaking.
Before she moved to Seattle, my mother was ostracized for choosing a person of color as her partner. I look back in disbelief at the racism they faced, knowing that my children will look back in disbelief at the discrimination that same-sex couples face today.
The 1,500 people who attended the memorial for my mom and Susanna all had stories that are testament to the power that one human being has to affect the world.
As I follow my mom's courageous example, I will not let fear dictate who I am or who I love. But creating change of this magnitude takes many acts of courage.
— Elisa Stodden, Seattle
The state Supreme Court recently decided that it was rational for the Legislature "to believe that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples ... furthers the well-being of children by encouraging families where children are reared in homes headed by the children's biological parents."
Currently there are tens of thousands of children living in Washington state in households headed by same-sex parents. What the Legislature and court have in fact enacted is a system whereby they are promoting children of opposite-sex parents living in "married" households, while at the same time ensuring that children of same-sex parents cannot live in "married" households. How rational is that?
All the Defense of Marriage Act accomplishes is limiting the number of children living in Washington whose parents can be legally married.
I agree that society benefits from strengthened family relationships. In order to best serve our children, we need to promote strong foundations for all families, not just those that we approve of.
— Squire Dahl, Seattle
The bride's anxiety
My husband and I have chosen not to have children.
Is the state going to revoke our marriage license, or do we have to apply for an annulment?
Does the Supreme Court ruling mean that infertile people and people over child-bearing age will be unable to obtain marriage licenses?
Please let me know soon, so that we can draw up the powers of attorney, so that we might visit each other in the hospital, rewrite our will, so that we may inherit from each other, and give back the wedding gifts, if we can remember who they came from 13 years later.
— Robin Shapiro, Seattle
The couple's best friends
"A missed opportunity on state Supreme Court" [editorial, July 27] is off the mark. DOMA protects marriage as a word, as a mind-set, and as a foundation of our society. The gay and lesbian community should have all the benefits accorded to married couples, but the idea of marriage should remain a union between a man and a woman.
I am not against gays and lesbians, but the majority of American people don't want to allow the term "married" to be used for gay unions. What makes the fact that gays (a very, very small minority) want to be married more important than that non-gays (a large majority) don't want them to be?
Although some consider what they do immoral, what they do should not be illegal, but it should also not be considered the norm.
— Wade Schmidt, Olalla
An empty chair
As a longtime fan of your state, and not infrequent visitor to Seattle, I was more than disappointed to see that the Supreme Court has decided to impose second-class status on gays and lesbians seeking to marry. Anyone with intellectual integrity knows that such laws are a gross violation of the civil liberties of gay Americans.
I will add the state of Washington to the list of states whose businesses I will not patronize (that includes via eBay, and catalogue sales). I also will never visit the state as a tourist while this law remains in effect, nor will I participate in any business events hosted in Washington.
I will also urge anyone and everyone I know to conduct an economic boycott of the state, and to the extent any organization to which I belong has an event planned in your state, I will exert pressure on it to cancel the event and reschedule it in a state whose laws do not discriminate against homosexuals.
I realize not all voters in Washington are intolerant. Nevertheless, an economic boycott is the only means I have, as a citizen of another state, to stand up for my own civil rights.
— Lindsey Nayduch, Chico, Calif.
Source of resilience
As a 34-year resident of Skagway, Alaska, and with a son who lives in Redmond, I have a foot in both the worlds of Seattle and Alaska, as do thousands of others [see "Alaska: a climate of change," Editorial Page Editor James Vesely column, July 30].
We are coming up on 50 years of statehood in 2009. The basic issue facing Alaska over the next 50 years will be whether we can direct our own destiny (continuing to be "the Last Frontier," as in our nickname), or whether we will be forced into becoming "the Last Wilderness," a place where the opportunities offered to any state through resource development are no longer available to us because of an ill-conceived national view of Alaska as a huge park.
In 1867, Alaska was incorrectly viewed by the United States as "Seward's Icebox," called "Icebergia" in the newspapers, and generally viewed by the public as a bleak and sterile land made up only of ice and snow. That has been changed by the powerful marketing engines behind Alaska tourism that have brought millions of visitors to Alaska.
That industry has benefited Alaska greatly, but in the process of changing America's concept of the 49th state, another incorrect perception has emerged: Alaska as a pristine wilderness, and thus as a giant preserve to be locked up tight, where nothing should be allowed to happen.
No other state has its economic hands tied behind its back that way. It's not good for Alaska, it's not good for Seattle/Tacoma (our major point of supply), and in the end, it's not good for the United States, a country that needs the resources and energy that Alaska can provide in the 21st century.
— Steve Hites, Skagway, Alaska
Hot time in the old town
Woke up later in the wrong dread
Forty-nine years ago this week, my wife (female) and I (male) were married in Hartford, Conn. The temperature was 102. Thursday's temperature [there] was 97.
Global-warming wacks, go figure!
— Welland Scott, Kirkland
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company