Letters from the week of August 24, 2000


Letters from the week of August 24, 2000

Saturday Night Fever
I just finished reading Bruce Rodgers' article about Westport ("Saturday Night Special," August 17). Was his purpose to point out the racial inequities that occur? Was it to expose the abuse of power some officers exhibit? Or was his purpose to possibly give all of us a better understanding of the situation and to possibly get a message to the persons in Westport that maybe they could exhibit more cooperation and consideration?

It's no secret that most of the white patrons of Westport are probably from Johnson County and inherently, they have a disdain or even fear of anything nonwhite. And it's no secret that some police officers abuse their power.

My contention is that, as in the case of Ms. Ludwigs, if people were more cooperative and respected the authority of the police, many of these problems could be avoided. Certainly, had Ms. Ludwigs taken the officer at his word and had not continued to ask why, she would have been on her merry way. Maybe she would have had to walk out of her way, but that would be a small price to pay when you consider the alternative of being arrested. Now, I'm not saying the police were right. However, it seems to me that cooperation on both sides is needed to make this work. And where did Rodgers' quotes come from? The police? Ms. Ludwigs? A third party?

Unfortunately, our society, especially people of color, have a growing distrust of police, and perhaps this is justified. But in my experience, when you cooperate and respond to the police by doing what they ask of you, they tend to leave you alone.

Maybe Rodgers could follow up this article with one that stresses a message of mutual cooperation. The police need to respect the rights of the people they are there to ostensibly protect, and the citizens need to respect the authority of the police and do what is asked of them.

I can see this as a win-win situation. Quite honestly, however, once I start seeing the ACLU, I know that the situation is going to get worse before it gets better.

Good article. Now it's time to find a solution.
-- Joseph Shockey
Kansas City, Missouri

Crown of Thorns
I wanted to thank Allie Johnson and the Pitch for covering the story on the abuses of workers at the Duro plant in Mexico ("Not in the Cards," August 17). Considering the status of Hallmark in this town, I think this was one of the most courageous pieces of news reporting I've read in the local press. Also, I think it's one of the most important in that it highlights the problems associated with the global "free trade" agenda promoted by most of our government officials (including the two major presidential candidates), which gives unprecedented power to transnational corporations over environmental, health, and safety standards; labor and human rights; and sovereignty (a people's right to govern themselves).

The Duro story illustrates how the work we do (e.g., the suppliers we choose and how we monitor corporate codes of conduct) and the products we consume affect the living conditions of people around the world. It also brings home the injustice of our affluence or so-called economic "boom" at the expense of their exploitation and desperate squalor. Maybe more stories like this will make it harder for people to just "look the other way."
-- Cliff Jones
Westwood Hills

Editor's note:
Last Thursday, several witnesses called from Crown Center to warn us that they'd seen Hallmark employees stealing bundles of Pitches. Hallmark officials denied that the company had tried to suppress Allie Johnson's story about striking workers at a Rio Bravo, Mexico, factory that makes, among other things, Hallmark gift bags (see Kansas City Strip, page 10). If you missed Johnson's story in print last week, you can still read it at www.pitch.com.
The Art of War
Patrick Dobson's article about the Liberty Memorial ("War of the Words," August 10) has a number of glaring blunders of fact. For instance, descriptions like "body parts litter the trench" and "foraging rats" does not fit any current description I've seen of the museum. The article also missed the extent to which the project has gone to accommodate the Historic Kansas City Foundation (HKCF). This is too bad, because the article was well-organized and well-written. It included an interesting profile of an interesting woman (Jane Flynn) and touched on the real problem with the project: lack of strong leadership.

My greatest disappointment is that HKCF, with the help of your article, has reduced the issue of the Liberty Memorial to arguing over such details as whether the windows in Memorial Hall are "industrial sash windows" or "steel casement windows." There is a deeper spiritual meaning to the monument, but if HKCF gets its way, the Liberty Memorial will become a monument to a dead architect rather than dead soldiers.

My commitment to a museum lies in my understanding of the circumstances of the First World War. Although largely overlooked now, if the First World War had not been fought, there would have been no Hitler, no communism, no Vietnam. The creators of the memorial, unaware of that future, did know they had created a new kind of war -- total war -- and did not need a museum to remind them of how 441 Kansas City citizens died. We, however, have lost that memory, and anyone who claims that the proposed Liberty Memorial Museum would glorify war is wrong. It would remind us of its consequences.
-- Mark Randolph
Kansas City, Missouri

Walker, Theater Ranger
The decision to make Steve Walker your theater critic is, in my opinion, one of the best changes that you have made. Like him or not, he tells it like he sees it. Unlike Robert Trussell, theater critic for The Kansas City Star, who either was born humorless or acquired his dull writing style through learned behavior, Steve Walker writes with a cynical but humor-filled edge.

Some actors I know think that his style of reviewing is cruel. To them, I say go to Chicago or any bigger city and that's what you get. It's only an opinion. As far as your past reviewers of theater go I can say only this: Too many times I noticed certain critics throwing their necks out of joint looking for something positive to say about a production that sucked overall. I don't want that in a critic. Just tell it like you see it, and that is what Steve Walker does.

I wonder if I will be having the same thoughts when he reviews a play that I have written entitled Bobbers, which opens at the brand-new, fabulous, beautiful, wondrous, marvelous, and safe Just Off Broadway Theatre on January 4. Hmmm. Either way, thanks for making him your theater critic.
-- Whit W. Welker
Kansas City, Missouri


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