The August issue showed The Waterbury Observer at its best and at its worst.
The best: "Darfur: Students Speak Out" was a wonderful example of The Waterbury Observer at its best, spotlighting what has been described as the worst human rights disaster in the world today, the genocide being perpetrated in Darfur.
The Connecticut Coalition to Save Darfur is bringing together interested activists in our state to do what we can to raise awareness and encourage our government to do its part in ending the genocide. It is currently planning to participate in the Dream for Darfur Olympic Torch Relay; the Connecticut relay is scheduled for Sunday, October 21, 2:00 pm at Minuteman Park in Hartford.
Information about the event is available at the Connecticut Coalition to Save Darfur web site at www.ctsavedarfur.org. Those interested in helping to plan this and future activities may attend the next meeting of The Coalition, scheduled for 9:30 am on Tuesday, September 11, at the Jewish Community Center on Bloomfield Avenue in West Hartford.
The worst: There's an abundance of sand in the Middle East and, with her rambling, uninformed, misleading, illogical and even hypocritical article "Ned Lamont-Where are you?," once again Marilyn Aligata has demonstrated that she has been hiding her head in it.
First the hypocrisy. On the one hand, Aligata complained "its (sic) offensive to me and the American people who oppose the war to be accused of being unpatriotic." On the other hand, she effectively made that very accusation about a United States senator from Connecticut.
As I wrote after a similar accusation was made in the Waterbury Republican-American, impugning the patriotism of that United States senator by asserting he acts "without thinking what is in the best interest of the American people" goes "beyond the line separating legitimate and illegitimate discourse. Abraham Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, one of our nation's oldest and most respected civil rights organizations, has pointed out the charge of dual loyalty is 'a classical canard of anti-Semitism.'"
The illogical: Aligata spends a good portion of her column on the danger of nuclear weapons, pointing out how Albert Einstein realized "nuclear weapons were a profound risk to humanity and could bring an end to civilization." She then castigates that same United States senator for his efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring those very weapons, whose acquisition would vastly increase that profound risk to humanity.
The head in the sand: Islamist fundamentalism in general and the particularly virulent strand being spread by the leaders in Iran in particular form a danger to the civilized world. I am not among those who believe there is a basic problem with Islam as a religion. From what I've studied, it appears Islam is far more similar to both Christianity and Judaism than it is different. Still, one has to have one's head in the sand to not recognize a significant number of fanatics, including the president of Iran and the mullahs who are really in charge there, have been perverting Islam to their own sick ends.
Indeed, almost every declared presidential candidate, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, has agreed on the critical nature of preventing the Iranian fanatics from getting their hands on nuclear weapons. They too have refused to take the option of using force off the table. Effectively, they have all agreed with the Connecticut senator Aligata has singled out for criticism, although, recognizing it is not an issue likely to win votes, none have been as outspoken.
I do not question Aligata's sincere desire for peace. I do question whether it is any more sincere than that of those she clearly believes are warmongers.
I cannot help but remember how popular Neville Chamberlain was right after appeasing Hitler at Munich and how unpopular Winston Churchill was for supposedly beating the drums for war. I cannot help but wonder how many millions of lives would have been saved had the British listened to Churchill rather than Chamberlain.
Only history, if civilization survives and we still have historians, will determine whether Aligata is a Chamberlain and Lieberman is a Churchill.
I do fear for the future and remember the warning from former CIA Director James Woolsey. He and others have pointed out that during the Cold War mutual assured destruction (MAD) worked because we were dealing with a regime which, ruthless though it was, ultimately wanted its people to live, while for the Iranian mullahs the threat of mutual assured destruction is an incentive rather than a deterrent.
I do fear that, if the Iranian mullahs get their hands on nuclear weapons, both September 11 and the genocide in Darfur will seem like the good old days.
I'd love to join Aligata and put my head in the sand with hers. Unfortunately, my conscience won't let me.
This was published by the Waterbury Observer as a letter to the editor in its September, 2007 issue.