POSTED ON DECEMBER 24, 2008:
Love Letters/Hate Mail
The inconsistencies in Michael D. Bates's columns are puzzling. In the past, I have had occasion to write in and protest his wrong-headed ideas about public transportation. Then in the September 18-24 issue, Bates wrote a column for which I almost wrote in to thank him: a column about the PlaniTulsa meetings (in which I participated), about the importance for Tulsa of establishing compact neighborhoods in which necessities such as groceries are available within walking distance, about the importance of public transportation to get from one neighborhood to another when necessary, and about the foolishness of the fanatical right-wing organization OK-SAFE, which seems to think that city planning and urban transportation are a Communist plot.
The only reason why I didn't write in to thank Bates for his expose of OK-SAFE and his championing of PlaniTulsa and public transportation was that I was afraid it was a temporary aberration, and that he would soon be back to his offensive and obnoxious columns as before.
And I was right. In the October 23-29 issue, there Bates was, back to harping again about the glories of limited government, and defending the indefensible: Sally Bell and her John Birch Society membership. As if the John Birch Society is "merely" an anti-Communist organization with a goal of limiting government! Can Bates really be so ignorant that he doesn't realize racism and xenophobia are at the heart of the John Birch Society? And that even if John Birchers don't kill people as Ku Klux Klan members do, if John Birchers had their way every non-white person, every Jew, and every white who doesn't have an Anglo-Saxon surname, would be deported from America. The John Birchers are "nativists" (an ironic name, since they hate Native Americans and think America belongs only to those descended from British immigrants) much like the 19th-century Know Nothing society. The John Birchers' racist and xenophobic rhetoric fuels the hatred that sends the KKK on killing sprees.
Bates says it was "reprehensible" for the Tulsa World to link the John Birchers' beliefs with those of the Ku Klux Klan; I say it is reprehensible for Bates to deny there is a link between them.
Sally Bell has a lot of explaining to do to non-white and non-Anglo-Saxon residents of Tulsa County, for her long-time membership in an organization that despises them. And Michael D. Bates has a lot of explaining to do to thoughtful observers everywhere, for attacking fanatical right-wing organizations in September and then defending them in October.
Associate Professor of English
Oklahoma State University
205 Morrill Hall
Stillwater, OK 74078
It's good to see an administration that violated our Constitutional rights by suspending habeas corpus and partaking in illegal domestic wiretapping packing up and heading out. While we have high hopes for President-elect Obama's administration, Oklahomans must remain vigilant to protect their civil liberties.
In the near future, we have a bill that may be introduced to provide barriers for individuals to vote. There is also Senate Bill 1878, which restricts a woman's right to choose and promotes cruelty. This bill requires a woman to have an ultrasound and see the results before proceeding with the abortion. This is not medically necessary, nor will it stop abortions from happening. SB 1878 is unjust. Fortunately, a recent lawsuit has delayed it from going into effect.
Obama has said he will close Guantánamo, reject the Military Commissions Act, and adhere to the Geneva Conventions. We challenge him to keep his word as soon as he possibly can by restoring the values of the Constitution. Guantánamo should be closed the first day of office. Torture should be banned and America's moral leadership reestablished.
In Oklahoma, we encourage our conservative legislature to act similarly. A government we can believe in is the goal.
Katy Jones, Media/Communications Coordinator, and
Tamya Cox, Program Director American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma
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