"In a masterful stroke of Orwellian doublespeak, [Bush] associates theocracy-loving terrorists with atheists."

THE RELIGIOUS WRONG

"Except for the peripheral presence . . . religion is almost never discussed in public in America, let alone as a matter of public policy," ["A Matter of Faith," Nov. 8]. What America are you living in, Geov [Parrish]? As I write, the illiterate disgrace that won the coup a year ago is speaking of his faith-based initiatives, there is a church on every corner, and the government is unconstitutionally promoting religion at every level. We are as steeped in religion as the animals who attacked us on Sept. 11, who certainly went to their deaths [thinking] god was on their side. The difference between our fundie Christians and their fundie Muslims is only the degree to which we've gone to achieve our aims. The fundamentalist aspects of the faiths are almost identical, and they have polluted our laws and culture far beyond anything the founding fathers would have allowed.

Does God bless America? Only with the savage fantasies of people who proclaim him their imaginary friend. America will not be free until all the religious fairy tales are consigned to museums and the power of the churches eliminated from the political landscape. Wake up Geov— the right wing has taken over, the clerics are running the show, swear it on the Bible, so help me dog.

Christopher Bingham

Snohomish

ARE YOU WITH GOD OR AGAINST GOD?

If George Bush claimed all true Americans were white, wouldn't nonwhites be justifiably furious? Wouldn't that make headlines across the nation? Of course. But when Bush repeatedly states all Americans are religious, we hear not a peep from the press.

In his Nov. 8 address to the nation, Bush claimed all Americans are "people of faith." Actually, 14 percent of the nation, almost 30 million people, have no religion, according to a new study by the City University of New York. Maybe Bush didn't see that study, but any educated person [knows] there are millions of Americans who are atheist, agnostic, or otherwise nonreligious. So why would Bush make such an obviously false statement?

First, Bush and other religious conservatives love to bash secular Americans who oppose Republicans on Bush's religion-based initiatives, mandatory school prayer, vouchers, reproductive choice, and other issues. Why not take every opportunity to insinuate that his political opponents aren't true Americans?

Second, we're fighting a war, and Bush needs to rally the folks at home, most of whom he knows are religious. Thus, in the same speech, we witness another astounding falsehood from Bush: "Those who celebrate the murder of innocent men, women and children have no religion."

Get it? All Americans are theists. Osama bin Laden and his associates are atheists. That's Bush's message. And it's a bald-faced lie. Bin Laden, the Taliban, and Al Qaeda are Muslims. They're theists—people who believe in a god.

The most ironic fact is that bin Laden hates the secularization of the world more than anything, which is exactly what religious conservatives such as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell hate. All of these men would much rather see a theocracy, with forced prayers in support of the government religion, where women are put in their place, where we have the freedom to do exactly what our religious leaders tell us to do. Atheism is their worst enemy.

But Bush knows he needs to demonize the enemy. So in a masterful stroke of Orwellian doublespeak, he associates theocracy-loving terrorists with atheists, the only segment of American society who can be bashed with pride on national TV.

Matthew J. Barry

Issaquah

EXPOSE BAYER FACTS

Mr. Parrish is absolutely correct ["Trenches to Troughs," Nov. 1]. We should have never bought Cipro. Generic companies have been gearing up to make ciprofloxacin for years, chomping at the bit waiting for the patent to expire in 2003. India can make it for pennies of "the deal" Bayer is charging.

We're going to be scammed by the government again if we don't expose these atrocities. The next scam will be the billions we give to Pitney Bowes or some other favorite partner for the mail irradiation machines.

Two very respected scientists from the Soviet Union already have a machine in use for irradiating bottles. This machine has the capacity to process over 75,000 pieces of mail a day. What you won't hear from the corporations is the fact that this machine can even process different sizes of mail. The one we're talking about buying only does letters. That's not all. They could have it in production and sent to the post offices in less than four months. Plus, they can make their machines at less than 10 percent of the cost of the other machines. It astounds me to think how closed minded our government thinks we are.

James Riley

Lexington, S.C.

MAKING HANSA UNHAPPY

Thank you for writing an objective and compelling article about Hansa—Woodland Park Zoo's new baby elephant ["Making Baby Elephants," Nov. 1]. You make some very valid points about the plight of elephants in captivity and the suffering they endure, from trainers' brutality to substandard facilities and cruel

confinement. Hansa, at the tender age of 1, is already being forced to acclimate to a life of restriction. She spends 15 minutes a day tethered in chains, and as she grows older, the amount of time she

spends chained will increase exponentially. The running joke among Woodland

Park Zoo keepers is that Hansa thinks her name is "No." Why? Because it's all she hears as she attempts to explore and interact with the world around her.

The public reacts emotionally and selfishly to the warm, fuzzy feelings they get when they view an adorable baby elephant in captivity. But what the public truly needs to realize is that elephants like Hansa pay a dear price for those fuzzy public sentiments. Hansa will endure a lifetime of suffering, brutality, loneliness, and deprivation. Is the price worth it?

Not in my opinion.

Stephanie Bell

Seattle

A PAEAN TO PAUL

After reading [Paul Fontana's] review of Grateful Dawg ["Random Notes," Nov. 1], I was moved to send you this note. Get out of the Seattle Weekly. You are just to [sic] smart. Your knowledge and use of the English vocabulary should not be read by the general public. I don't even think that the New Times could use such a still vocabularist like yourself. I mean your words like hagiography, paean, and even ostensibly. Really! If I had a conversation with you and you started using phrases like, "ostensibly the story," "laudatory portrait," and "culled from stage performances" I would nod and walk away thinking this man belongs in the academic world.

Joey Martinez

via e-mail

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