Letters to the Editor - Oh, please May 13 2004

John Sugg’s editorial, “Middle East conflict: It’s academic,” is a confused muddle of misinformation and opposite reality (Fishwrapper, May 6). Daniel Pipes, a highly respected Middle East expert and accredited Jewish journalist, is said by Sugg to be “renowned for wild and extremist ranting.” Sugg’s claim that he was exposed and discredited by a student at Emory is incorrect. Mary Robinson, the former U.N. commissioner who made numerous biased statements against Israel, introduced lopsided resolutions and presided over the anti-Semitic hate fest in Durban during her tenure, is portrayed as misunderstood.

Sugg’s perception of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is that the Palestinians are victims and Israelis the perpetrators. His take on academic freedom is that there is a “Nazi”-like conspiracy to stifle pro-Palestinian and anti-Bush speakers on college campuses. Give me a break.

-- Joel Handelman, Marietta

br>?Dumb decisions
Good riddance. With the possible exception of the Georgia Department of Transportation, there’s no more arrogant or unresponsive a bureaucracy in the state (“MARTA’s fallen and it can’t get up,” April 29). The laundry list of examples demonstrating mismanagement and plain stupid decisions is awfully long, but one of my favorites is its insistence on running giant half-empty (to be generous — usually nearly empty) buses down our narrow neighborhood streets.

Also, who can forget MARTA’s eviction of businesses in the Armour Circle industrial area for their maintenance facility? Some potentially prime taxable intown real estate taken right off the tax rolls! I guess they’ll pass the savings along to us.

-- Steven Rhodes, Atlanta

br>?Dedicated rider
I really liked “MARTA’s fallen and it can’t get up,” April 29. I actually changed jobs and took a pay cut for the chance to become one of those 470,000 MARTA riders. It was one of the smartest things I ever did. I’ve learned three computer languages on those trains, plus I’ve read countless periodicals, novels and other interesting stuff. My daily stress level went down by a clearly perceptible amount the week I started riding MARTA to work nine years ago.

Your emphasis on how cool the front-line employees are was right on target. I can count the serious problems I’ve had on MARTA on the fingers of one hand.

I bike to the MARTA station three times a week. Even then I don’t even have to fear the bus drivers — they show how professional they are by leaving me plenty of space, and on my exit from the station, they usually see me as fast as I see them. The folks I really fear, in the saddle and on my shoes, are the drivers with most of their attention on their cell phones, radios, passengers and other distractions from the road.

It pains me greatly that this wonderful system itself is under such stress. I’ve noticed the pedestrian and MARTA advocacy groups, but somehow I’ve never been able to get in touch with them. Perhaps the only carp I have is that you might’ve included some contact info for groups like PEDS and whatever MARTA activists you turned up in your research.

-- Charles Shapiro, Avondale Estates

Editor’s note: Ask and ye shall receive. Citizens for Progressive Transit can be contacted via the Web at www.cpt-atlanta.org. PEDS (Pedestrians Educating Drivers on Safety) can be reached at 404-873-5667 or www.peds.org.

?Paying the price
I’m one of the nobodies who rides MARTA (“MARTA’s fallen and it can’t get up,” April 29). I have since the bus was a dime and the train wasn’t even a dream.

I imagine that MARTA could stand to lose a few more chiefs when it’s cutting Indians — most organizations of that size use the same strategy. But I plan to let whatever state and federal legislators who will listen know exactly what I think about what they’re doing. If they can do a better job of moving people around either by bus, train or car, they need to get started. While MARTA has wasted 20 years courting “choice” riders, they’ve known that transit-dependent nobodies like me will be right there with them, paying the price, and helping Dick and Jane find the Congress Center when they get lost.

If Sonny and the gang would just stop showing us that their water is wetter and their sugar is sweeter, we’d leave ‘em alone.

-- Saundi Wilson, Atlanta

br>?Hoops help
I agree, Mr. Henry, these ain’t the Hawks of old (News & Views, Weekly Scalawag, April 22). However, this ain’t the NBA of old, either. I’m certainly not in any position to point fingers, but this organization has been neglected, to say the least.

Hopefully, the new partnership is more than just another corporate pen signing on the beleaguered dotted line. We could use some spirited, hands-on involvement in this case. Hope it happens.

-- Brent Jackson, Atlanta

br>?Do unto others
I attended the David Horowitz event as well, and was also bullied when I asked a question (Fishwrapper, “Some free speech is cheap lies,” April 22). I wore an American flag tie to try to prove to Horowitz that “leftists” can be patriotic. I have done my homework on Horowitz and the political atmosphere at Emory and I have concluded that the problem of leftist bias is not as humongous as he makes it out to be.

Just one thing that I think proves both John’s and my points: There was a blind student in attendance who asked a question as well (I know him well). The auditorium was filled with many conservatives, even the local conservative elite. I stayed in the auditorium for about 30 minutes after the speech talking to people. When I exited, I saw this blind kid standing about 30 feet outside the auditorium, wandering aimlessly. No one had offered to help him get back to his dorm. Four hundred conservatives emptied out, and not one offered to help him. I did. He said, “Wow, 400 conservatives refused to help me. You’re liberal, and you did. Thanks.” I think that says something.

-- Eric Brodie, Atlanta

?He deserves a chance
I fully agree with you on the way Democrats are handling Ralph Nader (News & Views, “Ralph Nader tried to steal my baby,” April 15). The subject of pulling Nader closer, not pushing him away, I just don’t understand — why haven’t they done that (Gore or Kerry)? Or perhaps I have a hunch. Nader dares to speak about so many values and ideas on a highly thoughtful manner that no other candidate will? Nader’s ideas are extremely valid to future debates/politics and I hope that for his candidacy he gets the chance to inject them.

-- Phil Welcome, Collingswood, N.J.