Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Lieberman, Lamont, Bush, Israel, Iraq, Vietnam, Justice: Part One

Lieberman, Lamont, Bush, Israel, Iraq, Vietnam, Justice: PART ONE

Today is a big day in Connecticut. Ned Lamont beat Senator Lieberman in the Democratic primary held yesterday on my birthday. It is a great birthday gift. Back in 1974 I received an equally nice birthday gift when President Richard Nixon announced on August 8th he would abdicate the presidential throne on August 9th.

I’ve been taking a lot of flack recently about my positions regarding the Israel-Hezbollah War and the United States war on Iraq and our occupation of it. So I thought I’d take the opportunity to explain where I’m coming from concerning my views.

My opinions had their birth while I attended college from 1958 to 1962 in Rochester, New York.

I graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in 1962. At that time, RIT was an urban college, located in the western slums of the city. The police were always around, busting the mostly minority local population for a variety of offenses. RIT students were occasionally mugged and RIT’s buildings were a hodgepodge of old buildings. The men’s dorm, for example, was the old Manger hotel on the corner of Main Street and Plymouth Avenue.

In my last two years there, a debate developed concerning the future of RIT. Should it stay in downtown Rochester? The city was willing to take over everything by way of eminent domain to give to the school for a rebuilding program. Or, should the college pick itself up and move away to ten rolling acres of land ten miles south and build a new college? The school chose the second choice.

I lived in broken down apartments during that time. We were awakened nightly in one of them by a light that would suddenly come on. It was caused by the refrigerator door opening on its own because the kitchen floor slanted at such a sharp angle. While living in these apartments, I became acquainted with Loretta Williams, a woman in her sixties who worked for the police department as a clerk.

Several years later, long after I had graduated, Mrs. Williams wrote me about what had happened after RIT moved its last equipment from the neighborhood. A riot broke out. The people left behind looted buildings and attacked people indiscriminately. Mrs. Williams son came, helped her retrieve her possessions, and moved her to safety.

That is what happens when you abandon people, leaving them no hope. I went back to Rochester in 1997 for a wedding and took a drive to the old neighborhood. The hotel/dorm was still there, taken over to house homeless people, who were congregating on the sidewalks. Most of the other buildings were gone. After 25 years, there was no improvement in the neighborhood. It had gotten worse. The same is true in Palestine, Lebanon and Israel. (Continued in PART TWO)---Walter Haan,


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