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Veteran: Anti-War Demonstrators Aren't So Innocent

Gretchen Nielsen's depictions of the regular war-related protests at the military recruiting center on Speedway Boulevard (Guest Commentary, Sept. 13, 2007, and Aug. 24, 2006) are, to say the very least, one-sided. "Twisted" is a more fitting adjective. Those of us who support the war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the men and women fighting overseas and their families back here hold Nielsen and her "anti-war" protesters in the same low regard that she holds us. Here are some reasons why.

Contrary to Nielsen's rosy depictions, the Speedway anti-war demonstrators can be quite rude and brutish. On Aug. 22, an anti-war advocate assaulted a pro-military demonstrator, after first swearing at a teenager who was filming the events. He smashed the teen's camera on the ground, and recruiting station personnel and the police had to stop him. A regular anti-war protester has spit on pro-military protesters and threatened people--including the family of Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua Lucero, a Tucsonan killed in the line of duty. Anti-war protesters routinely mingle with the pro-military demonstrators, looking for confrontation.

Another example of the "enlightened" behavior of these "peace activists" comes from this year's air show at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Three of them dressed up in costume--two as "prisoners" (in hoods and orange jumpsuits), and one in an Air Force flight suit, holding the "prisoners" on a leash, as if they were dogs. (As far as I know, Air Force flight crews don't interrogate prisoners or guard prisons.) This group pushed its way through troop supporters to the base's main gate, so that people entering the base couldn't ignore them. What a fine tribute to the Air Force personnel and families who live on Davis-Monthan, who had to drive by this childish and self-absorbed public display! That's not supporting the troops--that's insulting them.

The pro-military demonstrators do not condone rough behavior. Yes, there has been some isolated rudeness on our side. This issue excites passions. Nevertheless, I encourage any Tucsonan to observe one of these protests, and see which side comes off as the most shrill and impolite.

Nielsen, Win Without War, the Raging Grannies, Code Pink and many others sadly live in a fantasy world. Have they really deluded themselves into believing that their antics are harmless? Don't they realize that Iraqis (and our troops) see them on the news? As a Desert Storm veteran, I can attest that hearing about anti-war protests at home does dampen a deployed soldier's morale, no matter how much he reminds himself that those protesters are simply exercising the rights he's risking himself to protect. American troops report that Iraqis interpret anti-war protests as evidence that America will soon abandon Iraq. This makes them less willing to cooperate with coalition forces. And that really does make American troops more vulnerable.

Donald Smith


Towing Companies Are Bold-Faced Robbers!

Dave Devine's "On the Hook" (Sept. 20) only scratches the surface on towing companies. I am hoping you will keep pressure on the city, county and state to enact some sort of oversight of these bold-faced robbers who are sanctioned by our government.

I was a repo man for 20 years, and in dealing with towing companies, I have never dealt with a more crooked and deceitful bunch of people, besides lawyers. The fact that they regularly raid all vehicles they take in and steal parts from them with total impunity and the sanction of the government is totally and egregiously appalling.

James Barbee


Inquiring Minds Want to Know ...

The article on problems between the Tucson Symphony Orchestra and its women's association ("Sour Notes," Currents, Sept. 20) seems to omit a number of questions that need answering to fully understand what the effect of the financial problems will be on the symphony-going public.

How long has the TSO been spending $500,000 more than it has raised annually, as the article states? Where has the money been coming from, and how much longer can it continue?

The article reported that the musicians will be taking "large cuts in pay and benefits." What about the symphony management (conductor, executive director, etc.) and the symphony staff?

What has been the public's response to the significant increase in symphony ticket prices, both in terms of ticket sales and contributions?

The symphony has been heavily lobbying for a new "performing-arts center" downtown as part of Rio Nuevo. Is the symphony expecting some sort of additional subsidy if this center is funded? Is the need for such a center justified if the symphony shrinks (both musician-wise and patron-wise)?

Barry Austin


Symphony Women's Association Music School Touches Many Lives

When reading "Sour Notes," I couldn't help but wonder why the Tucson Symphony Society would want to sever ties with the Tucson Symphony Women's Association, which had raised more than $1 million on its behalf in the past 14 years. Sheesh, talk about ungrateful.

But what really struck a chord (no pun intended) is the TSS request that the TSWA change its primary activities away from its music school. The comment that the TSWA music programs reach 100, as opposed to TSS programs that reach 35,000, has spurred me to write an overdue thank you to the TSWA.

In the mid-1990s, my daughter took piano lessons through the TSWA program with Michael Fan while in elementary school. I still remember her first recitals and the encouragement she received from Michael and members of the TSWA. She went on to play trumpet, trombone, French horn and baritone horn through middle and high school, playing in bands both in and out of school until graduating from Tucson High School in 2004.

In May, she will receive a music-education degree from the University of Miami's Frost School of Music (where she received a music and academic scholarship) and will pursue a job as a music teacher. We remain grateful for the TSWA's music education program and the opportunity it provides to children in our community.

Felice Cohen-Joppa


O'Sullivan's 'Part-Time Inebriate' Comment Was Not Very Nice

The Tucson Weekly has served as a wonderful supporter of animal-welfare groups in Tucson, and in particular has provided the community a window into the ugly world of Tucson Greyhound Park.

Catherine O'Sullivan made an attempt to continue that good work in her Sept. 20 column. Unfortunately, her well-written coverage was tainted by several words in the second paragraph that are irrelevant and unnecessary to the facts of the case. I am not sure what "part-time inebriate" means. I doubt that she has been in a position to observe David Blair's behavior over time sufficiently to make such an observation. In the interests of editorial integrity, then, how is such a statement published and put into print for thousands of Tucsonans to read?

I know David, and I am one of those people from the greyhound-rescue community who is outraged that TGP is permitted to remain in operation killing greyhounds. I am proud to speak out for David's integrity in his dealing with his dogs and with the greyhound-rescue community. As Catherine points out, unfortunately, the same cannot be said for TGP management and owners, the state-certified veterinarians who kill the dogs, the state stewards, Tom Taylor and the other trainers who would rather kill than adopt.

Shame on you for implying anything else.

John Clark

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