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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - February 24, 2000, New Braunfels, Texas Page 6A — Herald-Zeitung — Thursday, February 24, 2000Opinions FORUM Letters Nhw I1&&UNI elsHerald-Zeitung New Braunfels Zeitung was founded 1852; New Braunfels Herald was founded 1890. The two papers merged in 1957 and printed in both German and English until 1958. Doug Toney, Editor and Publisher Margaret Edmonson, Managing Editor Rayanne Carmines, News Editor www.herald-zeitung.comOther Views Today in History By The Associated Press Today is Thursday, Feb. 24, the 55th day of 2CKK). There are 311 days left in the year. Todays Highlight in History: On Feb. 24, 1868, the House of Representatives impeached President Andrew Johnson following his attempted to dismiss Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton; Johnson was later acquitted by the Senate. On this date: In 1821, Mexico declared its independence from Spain. In 1863, Arizona was organized as a territory. In 1903, the United States signed an agreement acquiring a naval station at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. In 1920, a fledgling German political party held its first meeting of importance in Munich; it became known as the Nazi Patty, and its chief spokesman was Adolf Hitler. In 1945, American soldiers liberated the Philippine capital of Manila from Japanese control during World War II. By the Associated PressThe Jordan Times of Amman, on sanctions against Iraq: It has been IO years now since the sanctions on Iraq were imposed, and as yet, no end is in sight. The latest U.N. attempt to break the impasse was doomed to fail. Meanwhile, the West seems to be waking up to the fact that Iraq is in the grip of a serious and wide-ranging humanitarian disaster. Seventy members of the U.S. Congress have called for the lifting of the sanctions, citing a direct relationship between the sanctions and the death of more than one million civilians. Their protests, however, are likely to fall on deaf ears. The U.S. and Britain have since December 1998 flown more than 18,844 missions over Iraq. It is highly unlikely that both are willing to go to such efforts and such expense without some result. Their stated aim: removing the regime in Baghdad. Their chance of success: near zero. It has become more and more obvious that the longer these sanctions have continued the more entrenched and popular the Iraqi regime has become. It stands to the international community to realize the futility of their current course. People have suffered too long, there is no longer any need. Enough is enough.II Messaggero of Home, on the Iranian elections: The reformist alliance’s victory has been hailed as Iran’s “second revolution.” In fact, the moderates’ conquest of the Iranian parliament, the Majilis, opens the way towards a struggle, not only for a more open society, but also for institutional changes: the separation of the powers and a unified judicial apparatus, independent of religious authority. President Mohammad Khatami’s victory is not the end of the Iran of the Ayatollahs. Rather the absolute authority of the spiritual leader, AU Khamenei, will be counterbalanced in a Majilis dominated by reformists. The opposition won relatively free elections — a first step towards the real battle yet to be fought by the Iranian reformists: the search to harmonize democracy and Islam. Iran is not yet a democracy. Instead we are faced with a form of imperfect pluralism which offers two options: either, a fundamentalist form of Islam, or one that is more moderate and reformist. Iran has sent a historic message to the whole region. Not only to the fundamentalist regimes — such as pro-Western Saudi Arabia, and Sudan and Afghanistan, blacklisted by the U.S. — but also to others such as Syria. Lastly, the election results reward the policy of openness towards Khatami pursued by European states such as Italy. Letters To The EditorActivity center by any other name... Dear Editor: I would like to address why we wanted the pool/gymnasium building called an activity center. Because that’s what it is. We used the San Marcos Community Activity Center as a model. We are copying the things they did well and what is successful in operations and is useful for their community. We also have learned from their mistakes. Their center is used throughout the day by their residents. The seniors use the pool during the day as well as many clubs and organizations that use the meeting rooms. They have classes, workshops, community gatherings and many other things. As to whether the bond language is ambiguous, well, in open meetings before the public, the package was discussed. It started out with a very high price tag and was trimmed to where it is now. In every discussion the pool was mentioned. Anyone who attended the council meetings, watched the proceedings on TV, read the newspaper or listened to the radio station knows that the intent was to have both the pool and the gymnasium built. In every part of the bond package, there are things that are not specifically defined (i.e., streets and drainage). At some point we have to trust our city council. The city council was elected by our citizens. These council men and women are who we picked to run our city. They are our friends and neighbors. Can we not trust them? They have spent countless hours working on this bond package. The average citizen has no idea how much work and time is spend being a councilperson. They are never off duty. Wherever they go someone has a complaint or wants to give them advice on how to run the city. Am I worried that the council will follow the intent of propositions 5 and 6? No, I am not. Have faith in our hardworking council and vote for the family activity center, proposition 5 and 6. Larry C. Wenzel President, New Braunfels Youth SportsSometimes ‘facts' must lead to action Dear Editor: RE: Carter Casteel’s letter to the editor (2/20/00). In her closing paragraph Ms. Casteel states “It is important for us to pay attention and not be misled by emotions. Please remember there was a man in the ’30s who was able to take over a country because people acted upon emotion and not on facts.” Since it is she that uses the analogy of the Holocaust and the convention center flap, I ask: “ ... Who is it she warns will be able to “take over” like Hitler did? Those organizing and signing petitions that don’t have real power as individuals but become formidable opponents as an organization, armed with pencils and telephones? Hitler did not announce his intention to the Jews. Their rights were merely stripped away, layer by layer; much like their bodies eventually were stacked: layer upon layer. ... If it is “important for us to pay attention, and not be misled” then how did Hitler escape early detection of his attempted annihilation of the Jews? Hitler made unilateral decisions, rubberstamped and executed by his underlings armed with tanks and guns at his behest. Read a few back issues of the H-Z for a look at how it appears the City Council, at the behest of the Chamber, used a bulldozer to renew the Chamber contract and kickstart the convention center process. ... If “It is important for us to pay attention”, and we do not agree with what we see because we are paying attention, isn’t the next logical step to address the problem and seek a resolution? Petition organizers have done just that. As I recall, the Jews “paid attention”. They were businessmen and shopkeepers that “dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s;” dutifully wore their Stars of David; and they asked all the right questions, even as they were given bars of soap and herded into the gas chambers. ... If “there was a man in the ’30s who was able to take over a country because people acted upon emotion, and not on facts,” let’s look at the spin in progress. “Factual” misinformation and “factual” propaganda are the tools of politicians; both are used to mask corruption in the political system; examples of both grace H-Z pages in related convention center articles. Hitler used propaganda in an attempt to exterminate the Jews; misinformation masked corruption in the Nazi ranks. Sometimes “facts” aren’t really “facts” at all ... If it is important to “not be misled by emotions” then: what is a conscience? It is that little gut “feeling,” that cannot be explained; it is simply felt. It is obvious that few Nazi troops had a conscience ... what they did have were reams and reams of typewritten “facts.” ... If we are assigned roles in this analogy, and we, the people, are the Jews; then I ask Ms. Casteel and the other “privileged” of this community: will they be remembered as a Schindler or a Goethe when they are held accountable for their behavior? Who will be cast as Hitler? God is the true equalizer; but there is also a voter registration card. My apologies to Steven Spielberg; but as we unfolded our Sunday H-Z we happened to have a copy of “Schindler’s List” in the VCR. I would encourage anyone who hasn’t seen it to make the time. It will encourage you to do more than just pay attention.Dee Lawler New BraunfelsThe religious right emerges from a coma Like a terminally ill patient who awakens from a coma prior to his ultimate ietnise, the Christian political right showed renewed strength in the South Carolina Republican primary by backing he winner, George W. Bush. But at what :ost? People who are supposed to serve a ugher kingdom that is “not of this vorld,” and an unelected King who does lot seek the approval of any electorate in •Ider to exercise true power, have shown fiat they can get down and dirty with the est of the pagans before whom they are upposed to be setting an example and ointing the way to God. Conservative religious “leaders” blast-ixed and e-mailed their South Carolina onstituents in an orchestrated “informa-onal” campaign designed to smear Sen. 3hn McCain. They brought up his First arriage, his alleged affairs, his some-mes bad language, his meeting with the og Cabin Republicans and, by associa-Dn, “his softness on gays” (who have Cal Thomas replaced Communists as the Religious Right’s No. I enemy). They also excoriated Gary Bauer for his “sellout” — for bolting from the pack and endorsing McCain while virtually all of the conservative religious leaders have hitched their political horses to the wagon of George W. Bush. Even if all of the allegations against McCain and Bauer are true, the question is whether people who are supposed to be communicating the love of God did so by bashing McCain and Bauer in such an un-Christian manner. Some not associated with religious conservatism don’t think so. While not practicing the kind of religion (or poli tics) embraced by religious rightists, outsiders at least know how Christians are supposed to behave. Columnist EJ. Dionne Jr. lamented that Bush’s effort to “transform the definition of conservative Christian politics” has been damaged by Christian conservatives in South Carolina who may have delivered him into temptation: “... the revolution in Christian conservatism that once seemed possible has foundered on the hard rocks of the McCain challenge and interest-group politics. We may have to wait another four years before the word Christian is associated in politics, as it’s supposed to be in other parts of life, with civility and a decent regard for the other guy.” What a rebuke! Columnist David Broder noted the absurdity of so many people claiming that different candidates were “God’s choice” for president. Some of the conservative religious prophets backed Alan Keyes, others Bush and still others McCain. All seemed to have discerned God’s will in the matter (McCain was said to have been spared death in Vietnam so that God could have him run for president). Yet, as Lincoln noted when receiving conflicting advice about whose side God was on in the Civil War, all sides could not be simultaneously right. Christian conservative leaders are using the tools of the world in an attempt to impose a moral code and worldview that many non-Christians and even some Christians do not share. To the extent that lay people wish to indulge in this they are free to do so, misguided though they may be, but when those who are ordained or otherwise claim to speak for God do it, they are settling for the mess of pottage that is politics and demeaning themselves and their faith in the process. One leader of a major Christian organization recently justified some of the outrageous claims made in direct-mail fund-raising letters this way: “The left does it.” I was n’t aware that the pagan left had replaced biblical principles in setting the agenda for the Christian church. Both the religious and secular left have erred in their own public comments and equally outrageous fund-raising appeals. Conservative Christians aren’t a threat to the state. They’re a threat to themselves when they adopt the worldly tactics of those who appear to prefer political power to real power. One power changes occupants in Washington. The other changes hearts and lives. There is nothing in their political behavior that would compel people who do not believe in the God they claim to worship to begin a journey in search of Him. Since Satan is described in scripture as an angel of light” and a “counterfeit,” is it possible they might be unwittingly in the employ of the wrong kingdom? (Cal Thomas is a syndicated columnist.) ;