Letters to the Editor
A joyful occasion with Mary Hayes
I had the privilege of knowing Mary Hayes while I was owner of my bookstore in Redstone. I had a list of authors I wanted to have for book signings and Mary was on the top of that list.Learn more »
Does Aspen need a beat down?
I wish the authors of the “Keep Aspen, Aspen” and the City Council had met Bubbles.Learn more »
Variance play may be moot
If voters approve a change to the Aspen city charter as a means to stop variances on development approvals they don’t like, can’t the City Council just change the land-use code whenever they want so that no variances will be necessary?Learn more »
The first time Mary Hayes mentioned me in one of her columns, I couldn’t imagine why. I was young and had written something lame that had been published somewhere small, and she had seen it. I thought she only wrote about parties and people who’d been in the valley since the invention of fire. I didn’t realize she regularly shined a light on local writers and artists and athletes and anyone who did something that she thought deserved a mention. It was a very rare and caring gesture for those who can live or die by getting noticed. And I had no idea how many people read her words before then. Very few ever read mine, but they would read about them in her columns and stories and let me know it.
To call Mary singular would be to debase the word. The sweet little lady who wrote all those pleasant columns was incredibly bright and engaging and the only real chronicler of importance for Aspen during some of its most glorious and troubled years for a period spanning more than half a century following World War II. And she did it with originality, a sharp eye and a fascination for those people who were the real nuts and bolts of the community. Her books, her columns, her many bylined stories and her years of reporting and editing produced an unequaled catalog of local material that will be studied and mined for years. It’s no wonder the Aspen Historical Society declared her a living treasure.Learn more »
Isn’t it ironic that the biggest cheerleader for Bert Myrin’s ill-conceived ballot initiative is our former mayor? Yep, the same guy who strong-armed and proudly put his stamp of approval on the Aspen Art Museum, among other skyline-altering projects, now wants to neuter the council’s authority and put the brakes on all development.
Make no mistake — this is every bit as much of a power play as if the former mayor still had the gavel in his hand. But however meritorious the issue, the battle is being waged on the wrong terrain. The Home Rule Charter is no place for the bile and whims of those distrustful of elected officials (past and present, according to Myrin) to spill out. Rather, it is the land-use code itself that needs to be revised so that reasonable development can proceed apace without the requirement for wholesale variances project after project.Learn more »
It is a bit disturbing to me that a person can get five DUIs and be looking at only a minimum of 60 days in jail (“Aspen woman gets 90-day jail sentence for fifth DUI,” Jan. 28, The Aspen Times). Pitkin County Jail, too!
It is equally disturbing that Colorado allows immigrants in the country illegally (undocumented as they like to be called) to obtain a Colorado driver’s license! If one is somewhere they are not authorized to be, they should be denied certain privileges allowed to taxpaying citizens.Learn more »
Mayor and Aspen City Council,
I am writing in regard to the recent decision to conduct an all-mail-in-ballot election, have one voting center and forgo the other two Election Day polling places.Learn more »
The question of whether Rob Stein is remaining with the Roaring Fork School District continues to loom large for many of us. We are at a critical point right now, as the school board is reviewing Rob and Diana Sirko’s contracts at this week’s school board meeting. We are wondering: What is the board’s process for negotiating the contracts? Would the board sign with Diana without having things worked out with Rob? Are they willing to get creative about Rob’s and Diana’s roles, and would they consider limiting Diana’s contract to one year?
We believe that it makes strategic and financial sense to retain Rob and move him into the superintendent position as soon as possible. We agree with Rob that our district should be in the top 5 percent of our state’s schools, and we think he can get us there.Learn more »
Through the years, Aspen has responded to numerous problems with solutions that have had national impacts. From a hydroelectric plant in the early mining years to billboard elimination, growth control and smoking bans in the resort years, and now programs such as “Huts for Vets” and “Bridging Bionics,” Aspen has provided creative ideas that have stimulated opportunities and change far beyond our own valley.
The airport could be such an example. As it is situated just about equally between Aspen and Snowmass (3 miles to Aspen and 3.3 miles to Two Creeks at Snowmass), it is possible to develop transit systems to both resorts. This would be totally unique in the ski world.Learn more »
Mark Hunt, the Chicago transplant and frontman for a consortium of out-of-town billionaires who recently bought up 40 downtown properties, wants to reserve several spots in the “underutilized” public parking garage for his hotel guests’ cars so he won’t have to comply with city regulations. The times his proposed hotels will be full will be when the entire town is full. So where are people supposed to park?
He wants to be excused from contributing toward employee housing so he can accommodate our alleged need for more visitor beds for the “next gen.” Where are the employees who will be needed to serve these guests supposed to live while eating cake?Learn more »
Letter: Something about MaryJanuary 28, 2015 —
On Thursday, my dear pal Mary Hayes passed on. Mary was writing the society column for The Aspen Times the day I rolled into town and was still writing it the day I rolled out 40-something years later.
In the early years, there was no “society” in Aspen. The rich were there, and the famous were there, but it was Times editor and publisher Bil Dunaway’s policy to leave them alone and let them have their privacy. The entire community reflected that policy, and people didn’t make a fuss over them.
In return, they treated everyone as equals; waiters and lift loaders were treated with courtesy and respect and rubbed shoulders with the celebrities in the saloons and at private parties without giving it a second thought. This made for an odd “society” column — it was more of a parody of a society column.
Mary left the celebrities alone and took pictures of the regular folk. If you threw a few burgers on the grill for your friends and invited Mary, she had that week’s column. Of course, it couldn’t last, and Aspen society became stratified like the real world. Mary became what she beheld. She ended up going to the most exclusive highfalutin affairs and taking pictures of rich egos who craved the attention.
I asked her how she kept her food down at those things, and she told me, “I don’t eat much.” Once, while wheedling for a raise, an editor at the Times told me that I was already the second-highest-paid columnist at the paper behind Mary. I gave him a hard look and asked him what was up with that. He explained that advertisers actually wanted to be on the same page as Mary’s column.
Letter: Special treatmentJanuary 28, 2015 —
Nastar’s (new course) is
Treatment for the
Letter: Keep development smallJanuary 28, 2015 —
Please join us at the Keep Aspen, Aspen Petition Signing Party today at Bert and Walt’s home from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at 218 N. Monarch. Come sign the petition and join us for beverages and munchies. You also can sign the petition every day at City Market from 11:30 to 1:30 p.m. or email Blanca O’Leary at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will bring the petition to you for your signature.
If this initiative is approved by the registered electors of Aspen, it will amend the Home Rule Charter to require voter authorization of land-use approvals that exceed the zoning limitations in allowable floor area and maximum height or reduce amount of off-street parking or affordable housing. This applies only to commercial and lodging zones. Single-family and duplex homes are exempt.
We have until Feb. 4 to collect the necessary signatures to have the amendment on the May 5 city election ballot. So please sign as soon as you can.
Blanca and Cavanaugh O’Leary
Letter: Remembering Mary HayesJanuary 27, 2015 —
Remembering Mary Hayes
Not really knowing Mary, I felt I did know Mary.
As a part-time and now full-time resident of Aspen for the past 16 years, I met Mary Hayes on many occasions, and she was always gracious, kind and professional and seemed to really care about you and her role as a photographer.
As an 8 1/2-year survivor of pancreatic cancer, I can speak to the devastation that this terrifying diagnosis brings. There are no early detection markers — 73 percent die in the first 12 months and only 6 percent survive five years. I can only imagine the heartache she and her loving family endured. This is a painful, frightening journey with so many unanswered questions.
Fortunately, I found the valuable resources of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, which provided me with information on treatment options, clinical trials, diet and nutrition, disease information, physician specialists and much more.
After years of chemotherapy, many surgeries, unimaginable side effects, paddles to start my heart, emergency-room visits too numerous to count and a final diagnosis to get my affairs in order — I had three to six months to live. I have defied the odds, and am now healthy, thriving and living an active life in Aspen. As chairwoman of the board of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, I travel the country interacting with patients, caregivers, scientists and physicians and lobby Congress on behalf of research funding for this dreadful disease. I deliver speeches to pharmaceutical companies, corporations and volunteer affiliates in an effort to heighten the awareness of pancreatic cancer so people like Mary can have a chance.
As you reported, friendship was Mary’s gift; she focused on people and loved random acts of kindness. I hope, in some way, I can extend that kindness and these gifts to her family and others to mentor and inspire as Mary did for so many.
Letter: Clean up after messy crowdsJanuary 27, 2015 —
Clean up after messy crowds
I’m not sure whom to direct this to, but Aspen Skiing Co., or whoever manages to profit off indulging the Winter X Games crowd, please respect the local taxpayers and provide for the necessary cleanup during the events. The streets are littered with beer cans, Red Bull cans, broken beer bottles, food, vomit, empty cigarette boxes, food wrappers, empty liquor bottles, more vomit, etc. It would be nice if we locals did not have to see our streets full of trash, keep vomit away from our dogs and have to step over garbage each morning walking to town.
Letter: Ads promoting stoned skiing send the wrong messageJanuary 27, 2015 —
Ads promoting stoned skiing send the wrong message
Brian Radtke, chief operating officer of the Green Dragon pot store, said he’ll “have a nuclear meltdown” if his 13-year-old son gets a flier about a competitor’s goofy pot-infused sex lube product? (“Cannabis sex lube fliers have city hot and bothered,” Jan. 24, The Aspen Times).
Funny, I had the same reaction when I saw the ads that Radtke’s own store is running in local papers. He’s pimping Y5RX vape sticks loaded with “100 puffs” of sativa and indica so that pot heads can live “life without restrictions … when the big storm hits” and there’s “nothing to hold you back from the rush of a fresh powder run.” Wow, that’s a great message to be promoting in our community.
Radtke might want to examine his own ironic comments in Saturday’s Aspen Times story, where he was bemoaning a Denver company honing in on his sales territory and “not giving a crap about Aspen.” It might come as a surprise to him, but there are actually a lot of us in the valley who find it offensive that drug use is becoming “normalized” in our community. Yes, I know it’s legal to purchase pot, blah, blah, blah, but that doesn’t mean a pot shop should promote a message that it’s OK to break the law and get baked before you hit the slopes. It might be an inconvenient truth, but using ski facilities under the influence of drugs or alcohol is against the law and is a violation of the Colorado Ski Safety Act.
Letter: Don’t just preach anti-bigotryJanuary 25, 2015 —
It was not so long ago that David Segal, rabbi of the Aspen Congregation, called for “working against bigotry — whenever and wherever we witness it” (Sept. 6, The Aspen Times). Either Segal has been away on vacation and not reading The Aspen Times or he is demonstrating the meaninglessness of his words. To address only anti-Semitism and ignore the Semitism, or Jewish racism, discovered in the bigoted anti-Muslim and anti-Arab comments and racist caricatures presented by Jewish fanatics (such as Maurice Emmer and Elaine Sandler) would indicate the sign of an irrelevant and biased rabbi, much like the Jewish leaders that Sue Gray identifies (Jan. 24, The Aspen Times).
David, it is past time to practice what you preach and earn your title. Maurice and Elaine, it is time to cease demonstrating your foolishness and childish obsession for attacking those who disagree with you, since not one of your letters provides a strong argument that backs your mythical Semitic belief system. Yet, after having read your mindless, hate-spewed letters and comments, I am convinced that you and others like you will keep digging your own grave at the expense of non-fanatical Jews and the American public who will be sucked into another Mideast confrontation ignited by Jewish fanatics represented so well in the pages of this paper.
Letter: Remembering an Aspen iconJanuary 25, 2015 —
All of Aspen is sad to learn of the passing of Mary Hayes. She was a true Aspen icon. We have been blessed by her photographs in the everyday “life and times” of Aspen over these past 62 years.
We will miss you, Mary, but we will never forget you, as your photo histories are our remembrance.
Letter: Democracy in actionJanuary 25, 2015 —
In the Hunger Games, the president of Panem warns us that “every revolution begins with a spark.” Let’s keep Aspen Aspen, folks. Kudos to direct-democracy-in-action heroes Bert Myrin, Cavanaugh O’Leary, Michael Behrendt, Catalina Cruz and Kallen von Renkl, who will be soliciting signatures outside City Market every day from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. until Feb. 4.
Letter: What a lossJanuary 25, 2015 —
First losing Jim Hayes and now losing Mary — what a loss for our town. Andy Stone beautifully wrote about Mary in Saturday’s article.
On a personal note: I met Jim and Mary in 1978 while writing my first book, “Christmas in Aspen.” I loved them from our first encounter and then for the next 37 years. During my interview for the book, I got to know these two caring, talented, family-oriented, adorable and hardworking longtime locals who helped Aspen become the kind of town it is today. I can’t tell you how many special times I sat with them in front of their fireplace drinking tea with the fire crackling and burning, Jim content in his favorite rocking chair. They would tell me stories of their lives — how they moved to Aspen back in the ’50s to ski and ended up raising a family of five active kids, all the time trying to make ends meet. I loved all their vintage photos of Aspen in the ’50s. Mary and Jim were always in the center of the Aspen community.
Being fellow local authors, Mary and I met often to discuss our various writing projects. Mary made me smile as I’d watch her in the ’80s walking around Aspen hauling a child’s wagon loaded with books to be delivered to stores.
Fourteen years ago, I started a creative-writing contest at Aspen Elementary School for third- and fourth-graders. For 14 years, Mary spent hours as my fellow judge, reading as many as 70 stories a year. She never complained, because she loved writing and was happy to see the younger generation’s enthusiasm and talent.
I will dedicate 2015’s contest to sweet Mary. I will miss you dearly.
Letter: Misinformed letter writersJanuary 24, 2015 —
Misinformed letter writers
I don’t believe Sean Elias’s Jan. 21 assertion that Maurice Emmer is an intellectual lightweight (“Obligated to respond,” The Aspen Times, commentary). Emmer is obviously just misinformed and has been taught to fear and hate Arabs, like many American Jews. Take Elaine Sandler’s Jan. 22 letter (“Maurice Emmer is no intellectual lightweight,” The Aspen Times, commentary); she embarrasses herself by exposing her racial prejudice and repeating ugly myths such as “The Palestinians hate life. They prefer death, destruction and misery.”
In her defense, this is likely the only narrative she’s ever heard. The blame for such ignorance and bigotry lies with Jewish leaders who, rather than teaching their religious ideals of tolerance, equality and human rights, instead promote the colonialist expansion of Israel by leading their congregations to believe that Palestinians are just violent animals who deserve to be exterminated.
Thinking that “Palestinians (are) terrorist thugs who cannot under any circumstances manage to run a state if they had one” allows American Jews to feel no remorse when thousands of defenseless people are wounded and killed by Israeli bombs, as happened last summer with Israel’s military attack on civilians in Gaza. And just to be sure no inkling of guilt seeps in, every time Israel slaughters innocents, American Jewish leaders redouble their efforts to convince their congregations that the Middle East conflict is all about Arab violence and hatred of Jews and that Israel is completely blameless and justified.
Thus, American Jews live in ignorance of the real nature of the conflict, never knowing that the “Democratic diamond in the Middle East rough” imposes an unjust system of government over the stateless Palestinian people. American Jews have no idea that Israeli Jews are given preferential treatment and provided basic amenities and rights, which Palestinians under Israeli occupation are denied. They don’t understand that the Palestinian economy has nothing to do with incompetent Arabs and everything to do with the restrictions and impositions of the Israeli occupation, because occupation is a word seldom uttered in American Jewish congregations.
Nothing that paints Israel in a bad light gets through the narrow filter, so people like Sandler and Emmer are at a disadvantage when it comes to arguing Israel’s case. Because of the intense brainwashing they received from their leaders, their comments appear racist and unintellectual.
It’s remarkable that the same people who were persecuted mercilessly only 70 years ago now commit atrocities against another people using the same methods of promoting fear and prejudice. In reality, Palestinians are no more hateful and destructive than Jews are greedy and miserly.
Perpetuating ugly stereotypes only serves to prolong the suffering and pain of both Israelis and Palestinians, and allow the continuation of an untenable situation that must end if there is ever to be peace between them. So my advice to Jews who have been taught to love Israel by hating Arabs: go educate yourself with documentaries like “Five Broken Cameras.” You’ll be amazed at what your religious leaders have been keeping from you.
Letter: Reentering the arena of discourseJanuary 24, 2015 —
Reentering the arena of discourse
Bravely, this “intellectual lightweight” (Jan. 21, The Aspen Times, commentary) re-enters the arena of discourse with the implicitly self-styled intellectual giant, sociology professor Sean Elias of Utah State (if Google is correct). I do so to humbly apologize for overlooking Elias’ extensive writings. It wasn’t my fault. The Google search for Elias I did before I wrote my letter revealed none of the ponderously titled papers he so modestly cites. Perhaps his academic output was masked by Google’s “right to be forgotten” policy: the policy of expunging references to elements of a person’s history that might embarrass him.
Judging from his latest diatribe against caucasians, Americans and Jews, Utah State must pay Elias by the word, not the content. Crisp writing doesn’t seem to be valued there. (In fact, with all that anti-semitic invective, torturous writing and evasion of the point of my letter, Elias was bound to get tenure somewhere.) Though painful, I did parse Elias’ turgid letter for any indication that his writings ever critiqued the likes of the Islamic State, Boko Haram, Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Russia, the Castros or any of the other perpetrators of atrocities mentioned in my letter. Alas! There I found only lame excuses for his admitted focus on the crimes of caucasians, Europeans, Americans and Jews. Another apology to Elias. I said he is obsessed with hating Jews. Actually, he seems obsessed with hating any group that doesn’t routinely engage in atrocities. More solid reasons he got tenure somewhere.
An argument is best resolved in your favor when the other side argues your case for you. Thinking he is rebutting my accusation that his outrage is limited to those who least deserve it, Elias’ own words actually confirm my accusation. And while committing this clumsy rhetorical fumble, he claims intellectual superiority. Another “you can’t make this up” moment. Beware of Utah State.
Letter: Thanks for Winterskol BingoJanuary 24, 2015 —
Thanks for Winterskol Bingo
Circle of Friends offers a great big thank you to everyone who was involved with the first ever Winterskol Bingo, which was held Sunday, Jan. 11. Circle of Friends is an Aspen High School service club, which facilitates inter-generational events, cultivating friendships between all ages in our community.
We welcomed over 100 people, both locals and visitors, ranging in age from 5 to well beyond 80. It was a true community gathering offering fellowship and fun for everyone.
Special thanks to the amazing high school volunteers, led by Hannah Clauss, Anna Belinski and Katie Peshek. Thank you also to Julie Hardman and ACRA.
Heartfelt thanks to our generous donors:
Aspen Hair Co.
Sundance Liquor and Gifts
The Big Wrap
The Red Onion
Barbara Lynn Bloemsma
Pitkin County Senior Services Council
Circle of Friends Chair
Letter: Let’s talk about planet changeJanuary 22, 2015 —
I want to introduce a new issue: Planet change. Better than climate change, planet change can be touched and seen, Hopefully, it will open your eyes to the sickening destruction that has been wrought on our fabled western lands. If you happen to be in front of your computer, open Google Earth and follow along.
NASA recently released a report that there is a “permanent” 2,500 square-mile methane cloud hovering above northern New Mexico. Direct Google Earth to Durango and head south by dragging the map. Once you have figured out what a well pad looks like, you’re on your way. Hint: It doesn’t look anything like the commercials the oil companies pay for with the amber waves of grain. It’s a white barren piece of ground with some storage tanks on the pad.
Keep going south and take in the magnitude of the drilling craze. I realize that drilling requires some sacrifice, but this spider web of roads and pads seems excessive. Half of New Mexico has been surrendered to the oil companies.
Punch Vernal, Utah, into Google Earth. Vernal was recently in the papers for having an abnormally high incidence of infant stillborn deaths. No one can prove that the oil industry is responsible, and the people of Vernal don’t really care as long as they have jobs in the oil industry and a good tax base. Money talks and dead infants don’t.
South of Vernal is a massive ostrich skin of well pads dotting the Earth. Zoom down on each pad and the clarity of Google Earth will show you black lines running from each well. These are the pipelines the oil companies in all their environmental glory simply set on the ground to connect these wells. Looks beautiful from the satellite view. Can’t wait to visit.
Pinedale, Wyoming, is an eight-hour drive north of here and is a cute, little, western town on the edge of the Wind River Range. The wells there exceed the Bureau of Land Management vision of drilling by 300 percent and the little town has two ozone alerts per week in the winter.
Most important to us in the Roaring Fork Valley, punch in Silt and move the map south again. Wells butt up against houses for miles until the last one at Thompson Divide. Drag the map to Carbondale and marvel at what a small swatch of land protects this valley from fracking. That swatch, Thompson Divide, is what all the fuss is about.
I’ll be accused of hypocrisy because I use that oil and now it’s cheap allegedly because of the wells. However, even as these wells were being tapped, oil prices didn’t descend until the Saudis decided to pump more oil. As a matter of fact, the oil companies enjoyed the highest profits in the history of money and Americans got sucked dry by high gas prices. Makes me wonder about the veracity of that “hypocrite” argument and who the real hypocrites are.
We are constantly told that there is no other alternative to oil, but with oil so cheap, have we really tried? It may cost more to change our habits, but in the long run, wouldn’t we and our host planet be better off if we spent that money? Planet change is real and it may well be killing us, or perhaps a few babies.
They say that if you want to make an omelet, you have to crack a few eggs. Do we have to crack the entire carton? It’s time to draw the line. The West has sacrificed enough.
Letter: Politics disguised as scienceJanuary 22, 2015 —
“What historians will definitely wonder about in future centuries is how deeply flawed logic, obscured by shrewd and unrelenting propaganda, actually enabled a coalition of powerful special interests to convince nearly everyone in the world that carbon dioxide from human industry was a dangerous, planet-destroying toxin.”
“It will be remembered as the greatest mass delusion in the history of the world; that carbon dioxide, the life of plants, was considered for a time to be a deadly poison.” (Ed Ring, EcoWorld, 2008)
The carbon dioxide molecule, which has been more recently defined by radical environmental groups as a pollutant or poison, is absolutely essential to sustain plant and animal life here on Earth. To corrupt the English language in this way is simply a sleazy tactic to demonize this life-giving gaseous molecule.
Recent preindustrial carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere were about 280 parts per million. Today they are approaching 400 parts per million. If carbon dioxide levels were to ever decline to 150 parts per million, plant life would die and life on Earth would die with it. The geological record as far back as 500 million years has shown carbon dioxide levels as high as 4,000 parts per million, or 10 times what they are today. So, it is easy to argue that our atmosphere today is “carbon dioxide starved” and increasing the carbon dioxide levels would actually be beneficial to life on Earth.
Is carbon dioxide a poison? Well, you and I exhale carbon dioxide at a level of about 40,000 parts per million. And if we were to exhale too much of it, we would become unconscious (hyperventilation). Greenhouse nursery operators often add carbon dioxide to a level of 1,000 parts per million to increase plant growth. Plant life flourishes at 2,000 parts per million. Carbon dioxide concentrations on Navy submarines and NASA-manned space vehicles often exceed 5,000 parts per million, with no ill effects to their occupants. So to label carbon dioxide a poison or pollutant is simply misleading hype. (Do not confuse carbon dioxide with carbon monoxide, which is very poisonous.)
I have just explained to you that this “pollutant” is vital to your good health, so why is carbon dioxide the villain? It is believed by most to cause the Earth’s temperature to rise. Yes, it is a greenhouse gas, but of the many greenhouse gases it is, by far, the weakest. If we were to double the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, physicists, such as Dr. Will Happer, of Princeton, argue that the temperature of Earth would rise about one degree Celsius, which is not a danger to man or to plant life. In the past one billion years, the Earth’s average temperature has been as high as 22 degrees Celsius (warm and tropical) to as cold as 12 degrees Celsius (ice ages). Today, the Earth’s average temperature is 14.5 degrees Celsius, which is well below the 17 degrees Celsius average temperature over the geological record. So, the Earth is actually colder than normal. Addition of more carbon dioxide to our atmosphere above a doubling (760 to 800 parts per million) would have very little temperature effect.
So, why are we spending billions of dollars trying to reduce or sequester carbon dioxide molecules when higher levels in our atmosphere would actually be beneficial to plant and animal life on Earth? I can’t tell you why. It makes no sense to me. It is just hype, propaganda and political nonsense. It is politics disguised as science.
Letter: That’s not science; it’s religionJanuary 21, 2015 —
Glenn Beaton is only one author who has noted the similarities between a slavish devotion to “climate changeism” and a slavish devotion to other religions, including nature worship (The Aspen Times, Jan. 18). In his Jan. 20 responsive letter, Dave Reed takes Glenn to task. Why? Because Glenn’s arguments “sow confusion and doubt” about climate change, seeking to “prevent action” by “people who claim to follow science.” Once again, “science” is settled. Don’t ask uncomfortable questions.
Reed reveals his distaste for actual “science” with his argument that one should not entertain doubts when it comes to climate science. That must be a very unique scientific discipline. Confusion and doubt are the essence of all other sciences. Otherwise, Einstein would not have “doubted” the quantum discovered by Max Planck (who himself scarcely understood his discovery), leading to great advances in quantum mechanics that would not have happened without Einstein’s (and others’) “confusion and doubts.” And Edwin Hubble would not have doubted the conventional wisdom of a contracting universe despite his observations of an expanding universe.
Glenn was right. A science in which confusion and doubt are taboo is not a science. It is a religion.
Letter: Maurice Emmer is no intellectual lightweightJanuary 21, 2015 —
In his Jan. 21 letter, Sean Elias refers to Maurice Emmer as an intellectual lightweight (“Obligated to respond,” The Aspen Times, Commentary). I know Maurice, and I dare say he is no lightweight. I say the following to Elias:
Upon reading your long-in-the-tooth diatribe concerning your issues with Israel, I feel bewilderment for your incorrect ideological views that depict Israel as a bad oppressive country.
I can cite many well-documented facts that refute your beliefs, but I know no matter what I say, you’ll disagree because that’s what individuals like you do!
Jew-hate is epidemic, and the weakest among us succumb to its evil because it’s a very easy hatred to express. It makes you, Elias, look lame and ideologically disabled.
If you are the intellectual you claim, thought and cognition have everything to do with your comprehension, so please pay close attention.
Israel challenges world peace? Really? And it oppresses the Palestinians, terrorist thugs who cannot under any circumstances manage to run a state if they had one? They’ve been offered ample opportunities to do it. It seems the Palestinians are too busy building tunnels, using hospitals and schools (with women and children in harm’s way) as fronts for their rocket launchers.
They’re all about hate and misery.
Challenges to world peace. Let’s examine a few: Iran is going nuclear. That might be construed as antithetical to world peace. Ya think, Elias?
Then there’s Syria — killed 200,000 of its own people backed by those damn Iranians again. And the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, should we count the ways it obstructs world peace and kills innocents?
There’s also Boko Haram, Hezbollah, Hamas and more, but I don’t want you to go into evil-sensory overload, Elias.
But hey, you need to focus on the Israeli threat — a Democratic diamond in the Middle East rough in which Arab Israelis are happy to live. In fact they thrive. Homosexuals, too.
Women are free to forge careers and have families they love because they love life. Imagine a place that honors human dignity and integrity.
The Palestinians hate life. They prefer death, destruction and misery. And they unforgivably strap suicide vests onto their young kids. They encourage their children to do that and honor their families when they do. You think there’s a tinge of disfunctionality here? Their inability to thrive is what oppresses me and Israel. Their profound failure is embarrassing.
And you too embarrass me because I don’t want to take the time to disagree with your perspective, which is predicated on bias and hate.
You notice I’ve hardly insulted you, though I’d like to. Don’t pick on Emmer. I respect him because I know him.
Let’s put this to bed and be adults. I’m done. Now, kindly go away.
Letter: Obligated to respondJanuary 20, 2015 —
Normally, I do not step into the ring of debate with intellectual lightweights like Maurice Emmer, who, along with other reactionaries, solely resort to insults and name-calling and fail to address the position of my arguments (see Emmer’s and other’s juvenile, substance-less “comments” to my letter, “War Crimes, Not Defense,” in the online edition of The Aspen Times.) However, since Emmer appears only able to attack me rather than my points of view, and because he completely misrepresents the targets of my criticisms, I feel obligated to respond.
While I am not able to criticize all the oppressive groups and oppressive actions in the world, I decide to focus on the atrocities and forms of oppression backed by significant power/resources/capital that are often silenced or unacknowledged. My critique of Israel’s oppression of Palestinians has come to the forefront recently because, unlike the regional conflicts Emmer cites, the Israeli state’s misactions are routinely denied or concealed and, more importantly, Israel’s misdeeds incite much more consequential global social conflicts that potentially challenge world peace. But again, my writings on Israel’s abuse of power and extremist, unthoughtful Jewish behavior is slight in comparison to the body of my writings that critically address centuries of European oppression of people of color and, yes, oppression of Jews (“Racial Discrimination, Origins and Patterns”).
I welcome a Google search of my writings, called for by Emmer. One will discover that my writings as a graduate student and professor of sociology are most critical of my own racial group’s oppressive actions, the colonialist and racist misdeeds of my country (the United States) and ancestor’s country (United Kingdom) and, indeed, my own privilege and precarious hierarchical social position as a white male (“Realizations and Confessions of a White Man”). It will become apparent that my writings are critical of all forms of social injustice and human-rights abuses as well as the marginalization of minority groups (“Social Justice and Critical Public Sociology” and “W.E.B. Du Bois, Race, and Human Rights”). One of my books on the horizon demonstrates that I challenge my fellow white sociologists to incorporate the marginalized perspectives of people of color into the canon of sociology and fight against racial segregation in the discipline (Drawing the Sociological Color Line). Another dissects the socioeconomic abuses, psychosocial deficiencies and cultural decay of the new power elite (The Aspen Elite). Clearly, my criticisms run much deeper than Emmer suggests.
Challenging the damaging operations and structures found in the social world and the injustices of human beings — promoted by extremist Christians, Jews and Muslims — is discovered in a long, honorable and thoughtful tradition of certain key figures in Judaism. Problematically, this noble, commendable tradition has been silenced by more extremist politicized Jews who seek power and profit and devalue human community, intellectualism and spiritual understandings. Powerful Jewish thinkers such as Martin Buber, who is critical of extremist Zionism and oppression of Palestinians, offer an alternative version of Zionism and the Israeli State that I completely endorse. Great Jewish minds and actors, such as Abraham Heschel, who fought against social injustices and social power mismanagement, need to be reinvigorated in the debate over human-rights abuses of Israel, not the ranting of Jewish fanatics. More importantly, critical self-reflection is needed among individuals like Emmer whose extremist, non-tolerant rhetoric drag Judaism into the gutter.
Letter: Beaton’s global warming columns are a great disserviceJanuary 20, 2015 —
I find Glenn Beaton’s recent columns on global warming (Jan. 4 and 18, The Aspen Times) disturbing. Glenn, since you might interpret disagreement with your writings as a personal attack, let me make it clear that I’d like to focus on your message. In your efforts to bring light to a pressing issue of our time, you are doing a great disservice. You reinforce the illusion that climate change is still debatable and poorly understood. Your words sew confusion and doubt at a time when we need to act.
When you anchor your argument to the views of a Steven Koonin, a scientist whose affiliations predict a conflict of interest and whose position is at odds with the consensus of the scientific community, that’s a misuse of science.
When you speculatively disparage the beliefs of others while arguing from a conflation of questionable science and contradictory perspectives, that’s a misuse of religion.
While the exact details of how the drama of climate change will play out are unsettled, the science is compellingly clear — 97 percent of reputable scientists agree that human activity is changing the composition of the atmosphere in ways that will dramatically alter climate dynamics. Not only is that a remarkable level of agreement in these polarized times, it is the very nature of good science that the understanding of complex issues will converge with careful inquiry and investigation.
For a shining example of how religion can be effective, look to the Dalai Lama who says: “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” That’s good religion.
Using what we know now, we can act now to mitigate the potential impacts of climate change. (One elegant, equitable and simple approach is Carbon Fee and Dividend.) In doing so, we can avoid untold suffering for human beings and the many creatures who share this planet with us. That would be a great kindness to Earth’s current occupants and to future generations. That’s good science and good religion.