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Your Papers, Please

To the Editor:

In “You Are Being Watched” [Newsfront, Feb. 20], Shawn Stone incorrectly identified the INS; the N stands for “naturalization,” not “nationalization.”

Call me unparanoid, but I don’t see anything sinister in the government wanting to verify that people coming to this country on student visas are students. Colleges and universities already keep track of student attendance and course load. It’s also necessary for colleges and universities to know a student’s address. What’s wrong with that?

How is any of this “racial profiling?” The RPI memo stating that “a student cannot just be a student anymore”—why, because he or she has to be enrolled in classes and give his or her current address?

Laura Silver Kuhne
Albany

Whose Agenda Is This?

To the Editor:

The article by Travis Durfee, “It Could Be Worse” [Newsfront, Feb. 13], which looked at cuts to lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender and HIV/AIDS programs in Governor Pataki’s executive budget, stumbled badly on so many levels that I feel a response is warranted.

For starters, I found it very disturbing that Durfee would take out of context our reaction—“it could be worse”—to a cut in a single budget line for a non-HIV/AIDS LGBT program and then write an article as if it were our view on the much larger budget for HIV/AIDS. As the Empire State Pride Agenda is not a lead player on HIV/AIDS funding, I advised Durfee to contact those that are if he needed an informed voice to draw conclusions about the governor’s 2003-2004 budget.

I did talk with Durfee about a non-HIV/AIDS program that has distributed about $10.8 million in state funds over five years to over 40 LGBT service providers across the state. Its primary champion is Assembly Speaker Silver, who has provided $7.3 million of the total from his discretionary account, with the rest coming from the governor. While this year’s $1 million in the executive budget is a cut from last year’s $2.5 million, it is better than the fate of other small health- related programs that were “zeroed” out as a result of the state’s fiscal crisis.

Unfortunately, even here the information gets mangled. In providing an example of why these services are important, I told Durfee we knew of instances where counselors in mainstream substance-abuse programs had advised LGBT individuals that their being LGBT was the root cause of their alcoholism and the solution to overcoming their problem was to stop being who they are. Much to my amazement, I read that I said, “. . . for some members of the LGBT community, the reason they drink is because they are LGBT . . .” [see Corrections on this page].

My main complaint with this article, however, is that much of it seems part of an effort to position the Pride Agenda, who endorsed the governor for reelection, as an apologist for those areas of the budget deemed to be “gay-related,” even if they have little relationship to what it is we do in Albany. If Durfee acquainted himself with our goals and used that as a gauge of success, he would see that we have a good record of delivering for our community.

Over the years, support for our fight to win equal rights has always come disproportionately from Democrats and our endorsements have always reflected this. But when the two chambers of the Legislature are split between the Democrats and the Republicans, support from one party is not enough to win on the big issues.

Gov. Pataki’s support resulted in breaking the Senate logjam to enact the Hate Crimes Law (2000), repealing the 150-year-old Consensual Sodomy statute (2000), and, most recently breaking the Senate logjam again to enact the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (2002). He also supported six administrative and statutory changes giving equal benefits to same-sex partners of 9/11 victims.

Of course, more needs to be done. But the governor’s role in these advances supports our endorsement of him. Durfee’s attempt to tar the Pride Agenda with real or perceived slights to the gay community in the governor’s 2003-2004 budget ignores the larger reality of social progress that has finally occurred on the state level with the help of the governor after years of obstruction.

Metroland is entitled to its opinion and I welcome your criticism. However, an argument based upon some semblance of fact and a reasonably good understanding of our issues would be a nice starting point.

Joe Tarver
Communications Director
Empire State Pride Agenda

Peace Had Its Chance

To the Editor:

The antiwar movement, and those nations opposing the U.S. regarding Iraq, are behaving shamefully [Newsfront, Feb. 20]. U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 said Iraq must disarm or face “serious consequences.” Now, supercilious nations like France and Germany are making a meaningless mockery of that resolution. The only “serious consequences” they seem able to contemplate are more inspections. But as Colin Powell stated, this is not about inspections. It is about Iraq disarming. And it is obvious that Iraq is not disarming.

Certainly Iraq’s ostensible cooperation with inspections is nothing but pretence and deception. Iraq has been jerking around the U.N., and its inspectors, for over 11 years, making fools of the United Nations, and France and Germany and the antiwar movement are collaborating. This will destroy the U.N. as a credible, useful agent for world peace.

For 11 years the Iraqi regime has been willing to withstand a crippling sanctions regime, costing it billions and billions of dollars, to avoid disarming. Why has Iraq been doing this? Mere self-defense? Surely it must be that Saddam Hussein has serious intentions for use of the arsenal he has been building—and hiding—at such enormous cost. Anyone who thinks Iraq’s weapons cannot harm the U.S. (or its vital interests) has little imagination.

Some people say we should not be the world’s policeman. Well, we have policemen in civilized society for good reasons—to uphold law and order. We would not want to live in a society without that, nor should we wish to live in a world with no policeman. If no other nation can do the job, then it is noble for America to do it.

The humanitarian basis for American action is compelling. In 1999 we waged humanitarian war to stop Milosevic’s crimes against Kosovo. It was the right thing to do. Now, Saddam Hussein is a far nastier dictator than Milosevic, a killer on an even bigger scale. If we invade Iraq, there will be deaths, but I believe this will prove to be a price worth paying for the enormous benefit of liberating Iraq’s populace from a murderous dictatorship. After World War II, the U.S. occupation of Japan and Germany transformed them from nasty militaristic tyrannies into democratic, responsible members of the world community, whose people could now lead happy and rewarding lives. We did a good thing. I would like to see us do the same for Iraq.

Some people blame U.N. sanctions for the Iraqis’ suffering. Of course, the blame lies with Saddam, since at any time he could have had the sanctions lifted by disarming. Since he won’t do that, the only way to end sanctions is regime change.

The antiwar protestors offer no solution to the suffering of the Iraqi people. They seem to have no conception of the true awfulness of living under a regime that rules by terror. Their disregard for this aspect of the matter is simply inhumane.

The protestors also chant, “no war for oil.” This war will be about disarming Iraq, enforcing U.N. edicts, protecting world security, liberating the Iraqi people from a vile tyranny, and—yes—about keeping Saddam from getting a stranglehold on world oil supplies, which he has attempted before. That is a totally proper aim of U.S. policy. Oil is vital to the functioning of this nation and the world economy. Those chanting “no war for oil” could not continue to live the comfortable lives they now enjoy if the oil is cut off.

Frank S. Robinson
Albany

Correction

In a recent story on the Arbor Hill Neighborhood Advisory Committee [Newsfront, Jan. 30], Rodney Davis was misidentified as an Arbor Hill resident. He does not live in Arbor Hill, but works there as a member of the Arbor Hill Environmental Justice Corporation.

In a recent story on the governor’s proposed budget cuts in funding for HIV/AIDS and gay and lesbian health and human service programs [Newsfront, Feb. 3], Joe Tarver, a spokesman for the Empire State Pride Agenda, was quoted incorrectly as having said, “. . . for some members of the LGBT community, the reason they drink is because they are LGBT.” His quote should have read, “Some mainstream service providers . . . tell gay men, lesbians and transgender people it’s because they’re gay or lesbian that they are alcoholic.”

Metroland welcomes typed, double-spaced letters (computer printouts OK), addressed to the editor. Or you may e-mail them to: metroland@metroland.net. Metroland reserves the right to edit letters for length; 300 words is the preferred maximum. You must include your name, address and day and evening telephone numbers. We will not publish letters that cannot be verified, nor those that are illegible, irresponsible or factually inaccurate.

Send to:
Letters, Metroland, 4 Central Ave.,
4th Floor, Albany, NY 12210
or e-mail us at metroland@metroland.net.


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