Friday, December 29, 2006

"The War at Home" -- Letter to the Editor of the San Francisco Chronicle

In their edition of 28 December 2006, the San Francisco Chronicle published a letter I sent to the editor -- to my surprise, without cutting it. They gave it a heading, "The War at Home":

"Why are our politicians so silent about the war going on in Oakland and Richmond?

"I know that Oakland is trying to find and train more police. We all know that the solutions are greater economic opportunity to end poverty and racism; more youth programs; more adequate education; etc., etc. But, while waiting for those long-term solutions, our elected officials seem willing to accept what is happening for lack of those solutions.

"There is an immediate need that must be addressed, and you politicians were elected to address them, but you are not doing that. Why? Give us an answer to that "Why?" Why are you silent? Step up and take responsibility, or get out of public office. Personally, I think the National Guard needs to occupy Oakland and Richmond until you get around to instituting the long-term solutions. Why are you silent? Why don't you do something? I am refraining from spewing the stream of epithets that I would like to let loose on you all!"

After the letter above was published, one man called, wanting to know if I was related to a John Eilers whom he had known in Northern California. A 68-year-old Greek-American man called from Petaluma. He had been in the United States for 30 years, and wished he knew English well enough to be able to convey his ideas because it concerned him so much that in a country so rich there should be such neglect of human life. His message was broken by tears. What is needed, he said -- but could not get anyone to understand him -- had nothing to do with politicians, but a notion like Hilary Clinton's IT TAKES A VILLAGE (not only community, I assume, but small units of recognition in which each person feels he is known and cared for and respected). He asked me to read page 76 of a book entitled THE DREAM AND THE NIGHTMARE.

The latest person who saught out my phone number to comment on the letter said, "I was surprised to see that someone had written what I have been feeling for a long time." She, a woman from Alameda, in spite of physical disabilities, intends to haunt the office of Ronald Dellums, when he takes over as mayor of Oakland, to talk to him about the matter.

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