Thursday, May 03, 2007

MUHS Letter to the Editor

I wrote this letter to the school newspaper in response to a highly conservative and misleading article that it published. I posted the story here in order to include my electronic sources...


Dear Flambeau,
For the third year now, I find myself putting together a response discussing Nik Nelson's unfair and factually incorrect "Year in Review" article. Although this year's article was the most interesting edition and the added quotes and pictures were very appealing, this article was full of misleading and inflammatory statements. Since my call for an end to these irresponsible statements has been completely ignored, I merely wish for the Marquette High community to look at the basic facts of these political issues.
Mr. Nelson brings up the issue of wiretapping several times through the article. In "May", he mentions that the NSA has a huge database of every phone call placed through three major telephone providers, Mr. Nelson then asks, "If this means helping to end terrorism, what's with all the objections?". Wiretapping has not helped bring an end to terrorism. It has merely violated our civil liberties, with little to show for it. In "August", Nelson points out that British intelligence prevented a terrorist plot from occurring. He then asks, "Will someone please remind me why we can't tap these people's phones?" My answer to him is simply, since when does the United States tap British phones? Also, wiretapping did not prevent this potential disaster; it was a British agent that infiltrated the group. Mr. Nelson hits on wiretapping again in "December", when he discusses AT&T's purchase of BellSouth. He states, "Just think of all of the terrorists we can spy on now!" I guess I don't understand the logic behind that comment; however my concern over this purchase is one to consider. With these telephone giants merging, I think to myself, "Just think of the corporate domination that we will be subject to now!"
Another issue that Mr. Nelson does not relent on is global warming. In "February", he asks if a "hurricane-like snowstorm" is "part of the global warming Al Gore was warning us about?" I would say, possibly yes. The common misconception about global warming is that all it does in make the Earth hotter. This is not true. The true climate threat of global warming is that it will cause severe, deadly weather. Hurricane Katrina and other intense storms (like the "hurricane-like snowstorm) that have increased alarmingly (the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes has almost doubled in the last 30 years) in recent years are evidence of this. In "March", Mr. Nelson suggest that Al Gore "rejoice[d]" at the news of Tropical Cyclone Larry for it would raise An Inconvenient Truth DVD sales. This is a preposterous smear that is a perfect example of the global warming skeptics' crowd: attack the messenger; ignore the message. In "July", Mr. Nelson refers to Al Gore as "Internet Inventor Al Gore". Another ridiculous smear; Al Gore never claimed to invent the internet. When he stated "During my service in the United States Congress I took the initiative in creating the Internet," all he meant was that he did the most of any elected official to support the growth of internet ever since the 1970's. This is true. According to Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf (the guys who actually did invent the internet), Gore "was the first political leader to recognize the importance of the Internet and to promote and support its development".
Perhaps the most damning of Mr. Nelson's article is the fact that he leaves out some very important aspects of stories he mentions. In "February", he discusses Vice President Cheney shooting his friend in the face. Mr. Nelson fails to mention that there were questions regarding how Vice President Cheney reacted and why the media was not informed earlier. Instead he states something about how "no one likes lawyers". In "February", Mr. Nelson suggests drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in response to Hugo Chavez threatening to cut off the supply of oil to the United States. I can see his logic here, but, perhaps a better suggestion is alternative fuels, for that would end the problem of oil dependency forever. In "May", Nelson mentions the news of the Enron executives Jeff Skilling and Ken Lay being found guilty of their corporate crimes; however Mr. Nelson fails to note the close relationship between Lay and President Bush. For instance, Lay and Enron were once President Bush's number one campaign donors. Lay gave Bush a documented $736,800 (a staggering sum on its own), however, through campaign contributions, consultancies, joint investments, deals, presidential library and inaugural contributions, speech fees and the like, the real amount of contributions could be anywhere from $8 million to as high as $25 million. In “June”, Mr. Nelson declared that “Liberals flee in terror” from Ann Coulter’s Godless: The Church of Liberalism. This is not true. I read Coulter’s book, and I was thoroughly dissappointed. It was full of inflammatory statements, blatant distortions, poor grammar, plagarism, strange misconceptions, and (seriously) a talking-point from humor columnist Dave Barry. The website did an effective job of debunking of the book’s false statements. Also, in “June”, Mr. Nelson accused the New York Times of treason for reporting a leaked story regarding “an international program to monitor money transactions of terrorist organizations”. However, he left out the fact that President Bush and his staff have been quite open about this program. In a September 24, 2001 speech, Bush announced the establishment of a "foreign terrorist asset tracking center at the Department of the Treasury to identify and investigate the financial infrastructure of the international terrorist networks." He added, "It will bring together representatives of the intelligence, law enforcement and financial regulatory agencies to accomplish two goals: to follow the money as a trail to the terrorists, to follow their money so we can find out where they are; and to freeze the money to disrupt their actions." Is this treason as well? Perhaps a better example of treason is leaking the name of a CIA operative to a conservative columnist who publishes her name, thereby destroying her lifetime career, all with the intention to strike revenge at the operative’s husband (who proved the administration wrong about an argument promoting the invasion of Iraq).
In “August”, Mr. Nelson jokes about how Mahmoud Ahmadenijad ordered “advanced tickets to Apocalypto” in response to Mel Gibson’s drunken, anti-Semitic tirade. My question is, did FOX News’ Sean Hannity also order advanced tickets? Hannity proved to be Gibson’s most vocal apologist, stating that, "people deserve compassion when they are in this kind of trouble." That is, unless that “people” is Alec Baldwin (someone Hannity has no compassion for). In “December”, when referring to Iran’s Holocaust Conference, Mr. Nelson jokes about how Mel Gibson was “strangely absent”. Mr. Nelson forgot to mention someone who was present: former Republican Louisianan State Representative and notorious white supremacist David Duke.
Mr. Nelson’s inflammatory statements continue in “September”, when he criticizes Bill Clinton for “throw[ing] down” Chris Wallace after Wallace conducted a “real” interview with “tough questions, not the softball lobs that everyone else throws...” However, during the interview, Clinton accused Chris Wallace of not asking the Bush administration similar questions, to which Wallace replied, “Have you ever watched Fox News Sunday, sir? ... We ask plenty of questions.” The weblogs Think Progress and Media Matters later found President Clinton’s accusations to be true. Chris Wallace has not conducted "real" interviews with several members in the Bush Administration.
In “October”, Mr. Nelson mentions the horribly offensive comments Rush Limbaugh made about stem cell research proponent Michael J. Fox. Mr. Nelson then accuses Fox of appealing in “propaganda ads for Democratic candidates”. This is an appallingly irresponsible statement. Michael J. Fox is a staunch supporter of stem cell research, but he does not blindly support Democrats. “Arlen Specter is my guy” is what he said of one of the Republicans he supported. I saw Michael J. Fox give a speech in November of 2006, and all he did was simply ask the American people to support a line of research that can help bring an end to the pain people suffer like he does. To attack a courageous man such as he, is truly cowardly. The other is issue with “October” is a glaring omission of an incredibly important event in the political realm. Mr. Nelson did not mention the Mark Foley scandal. He also did not mention that Speaker Denny Hastert and other leading Republicans were well aware of Foley’s inappropriate behavior regarding the congressional page program. Mr. Nelson also made no mention of Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, and the continuing lobbying scandal that brought down several Republican lawmakers. To ignore such significant stories is truly evidence of a problem of blatant bias, and it is the fundamental flaw of having articles such as these printed in a student newspaper.
Now, Mr. Nelson did not completely ignore the 2006 elections. In “November”, he states that in response to the Democratic Congressional victories, “Enrollment in support groups around the country skyrockets”. Also, in “March”, Mr. Nelson wonders “how extraterrestrial life got elected Speaker of the House”. Never mind that Denny Hastert was Speaker of the House in March 2006, Mr. Nelson’s attacks are immature and unnecessary. It is more relevant to discuss why the Democrats had such resounding victories in the 2006 elections. The 2006 elections was a mandate to change course in the disaster that Iraq has become and to reflect this country’s outright dissatisfaction with President Bush (who currently enjoys a 28% approval rating).
All in all, Mr. Nelson’s article is disappointing. In a time when our country is so harshly divided, the MUHS community does not need to read partisan pot-shots. We here at Marquette are supposed to be intellectually competent and open to growth. This article simply rehashes careless partisanship and makes a mockery of what political discussion is supposed to be. Since this is Nik Nelson’s and my final year here at Marquette, I bring a message of hope: bring an end to careless partisanship and may the Marquette community have some decent dialogue.

Most sincerely,
Joseph G. Kay, 2007

PS In order to cite every source I used in this article, I posted the full article online with all my sources at


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