The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 16, 1995 · Page 4
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 4

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Tuesday, May 16, 1995
Page 4
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A4 Tuesday, May 16,1995 the VIEWPOINTS The Salina Journal ^^ Salina Journal Serving Kansas since 1871 HARRIS RAYL, Publisher GEORGE B. PYLE, Editorial Page Editor SCOTT SEIRER, Executive Editor JIM HAAG, Assistant Editor BEN WEARING, Deputy Editor TIM FITZGERALD, Sports Editor BRET WALLACE, Associate Editor MARY JO PROCHAZKA, Associate Editor BRAD CATT, Associate Editor Editorial Opinion The Spirit of Kansas? Bomber does not deserve the name S aturday, down Wichita way, a collection of brass and big wigs gathered with all the necessary pomp and circumstance to officially christen something the Spirit of Kansas. Nice name. Beautiful spring day. Too bad the thing being christened had to be a boondoggle bomber. Sen. Bob Dole, Rep. Todd Tiahrt and more generals than you could have shaken a stick at assembled at McConnell Air Force Base to see one of America's fleet of B-2 stealth bombers formally named. The bomber won't be stationed in Kansas. It will reside, along with the rest of its wing, at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. It is the sixth B-2 to be named after a state. Such are the hard times that have befallen the U.S. Military- Industrial Complex. Time was that contracts for huge military projects could be spread around to many states, many congressional districts, so that enough members of Congress could always be found to defend even the most ridiculous project on the grounds that it would mean jobs for their constituents. Now all the Pentagon can do is name an airplane after your state. It is an honor we should have politely declined. If we were going to select something to embody the Spirit of Kansas, it certainly would not be a weapon of war — and an unnecessary weapon of war, to boot. Unlike its smaller cousin, the stealth fighter, the B-2 has never been proven useful, much less functional. It has a poor operational record and, even if it worked, it was designed for a job that no longer exists — our response to a Soviet nuclear first strike. Many military experts, knowing that the most effective response to a Soviet missile attack would be an American missile attack, have long said that the mission of strategic bombers such as the B-2 would be no more than to fly to the remains of the enemy's country and "make the rubble bounce." Regardless of whether the Klingon-inspired aircraft has any real military use to justify its horrible cost, to give it a name like the Spirit of Kansas is so inappropriate as to be insulting. Will this machine plant or harvest any wheat? Raise or educate any children? Inspire any poetry or works of art? Appreciate the unique Kansas sunset? Build any barns or churches? It most certainly will not. And, as such, does not deserve to carry the name Spirit of Kansas on its black, radar-evading fuselage. ING 6ENPRAL OF fbST I? OFTHE GR&ND VKXtoOT WUTIfc, OUTRT fbu'RE THE T=KlVKTlE WHO TAKES THE Mainstream media discover the Rambo culture Journal If you have a comment for the editorial page writers or an idea for an editorial or column, you can leave your thoughts on Journal Line, any time of the day or night. Just call Journal Line at 825-6000, enter category 1550 and follow the directions you will hear. This line is intended as a way for readers to contact us easil. If you need us to get back to you, be sure to leave a daytime telephone number. Letters for publication should be sent to Letters to the Journal, P.O. Box 740, Salina, KS 67402. They may also be faxed to (913) 827-6363, or sent by e-mail to LINE 1 W hen American liberals woke up to a Republican Congress last fall, they were equally stunned to discover that a whole other American culture was thriving — the so- called non-mainstream media in which the news is dispensed by Rush Limbaugh rather than Peter Jennings and in which William Bennett, not Quentin Tarantino, rules. But given what we know after Oklahoma City, the geological fault between the new media and the old now looks like relatively tame stuff: However much conservatives and liberals may battle, they are still engaged in the same, albeit angry, conversation. The far-right America brought into the light since the bombing is something else — a true counterculture that slipped under the mainstream's radar and talks mainly to itself. It has its own talk-radio and Internet stars, theology, publications and political heroes. You can wallow in its literature for days without encountering the O.J. Simpson trial or the Contract With America. It is so far out of the loop that when Ted Koppel held a "Nightline" town meeting in the militia stronghold of Decter, Mich., after the bombing, the language barrier was so pronounced he seemed to have stumbled into "Village of the Damned." Where did this culture come from? Everyone is searching frantically for roots in other paranoid movements in American history in which fundamentalism, white supremacism, anti-Semitism and crackpot conspiracy theories produced toxic explosions of anti-government rage. But easily the most cogent explanation JOURNAL Frank Rich THE NEW YORK TIMES had been written (and ignored) before Oklahoma City, in a well-documented, scholarly 1994 book Hill & Wang is now rushing back into print: "Warrior Dreams: Paramilitary Culture in Post- Vietnam America," by James William Gibson, a sociologist at California State University. Gibson dates the birth of this new culture to the confluence of two events in 1975: the fall of Saigon and the founding of Soldier of Fortune magazine. The American defeat in Vietnam, Gibson demonstrates, gave rise among some white American men to a warrior fantasy, stoked by "Rambo" and other pulp entertainment, in which a paramilitary loner, often a former Green Beret, avenges the villains who allegedly cost America the war. The villains? Liberals, feminists, minorities and the government itself. The weapons of choice? The combat rifles that had proliferated by the 1980s and that Soldier of Fortune promoted as a life style. What makes Gibson's book startling is that this entire culture has been in place for two decades, well before the 1990s brought Waco and the militia movement. "The Turner Diaries," a novel that features the fertilizer-bombing of a government building and is known to be a favorite of Timothy McVeigh's, has been a best-selling bible of the paramili- tary culture since 1978. Indeed, McVeigh's blank stare, military history, known ideology and biography are anticipated almost uncannily by the fictional Vietnam vet out to cleanse America of its "scum" in the 1976 movie "Taxi Driver." When Gibson was writing in 1994, he could point to only scattered examples of paramilitary violence spilling beyond weekend-warrior gunplay into real-life tragedy, notably the 1984 murder of the liberal Denver talk-radio host, Alan Berg. Even so, "Warrior Dreams" warned of "great danger" and sketched in links between the paramilitary right and the Christian right, just before the Christian right began to make significant inroads into the Republican Party. Exasperated by how easily the mainstream culture either ridiculed or dismissed the paramilitary culture in its midst, Gibson wrote that "this terrain must be explored, mapped and understood if it is ever to be transformed." But even now, after Oklahoma City, is anyone listening to its voices? As recently as April 29, to take one example, the author of "The Turner Diaries," William Pierce, gave an elaborate, rather erudite radio address, later disseminated by the Internet, in which he predicted that the resentment generated among "normal Americans" by Jews, politicians, homosexuals, minorities and "female executives" would lead to more terrorism "on a scale that the', world has never seen before." Pierce's words were ignored by the mainstream media. But whether or not we are listening, there's a well-armed audience out there who is. Small towns depend on quality Russian summit was a big failure for Clinton T he texture of a society depends on the quantity and quality of the people. How many are there, and how good are they? Quantity — population — drives retail and social activities. Lots of people enable lots of choices in stores, social clubs, churches and cafes. Quantity makes a city exciting. A rural society has too few souls to support 50 restaurants, a dozen car dealerships, an eight-screen cineplex, four performing arts centers and two professional sports teams. The texture of a rural society depends on the quality of its people. Quality — character — is subjective, elusive and downright argumentative. Surely it includes things like common sense, self-reliance, good will, honesty, perseverance and the collective ability to work together for mutual success. Some rural societies thrive. Some don't. One example doesn't tell it all, but look at the case of Lincoln County. Kansas, and its ongoing struggle to build a new social anchor. Lincoln County is 720 square miles of rural. A quarter million cattle dot the hills; dry-land farming covers river bottoms and plateaus. Four cities and some smaller places hold most of the 3,400 people. Statistics say it has lots of the old and poor in a population that has declined in every census since 1910. Lincoln County had a movie house. Two generations ago, long before Bud Finch and his wife Nadine took it on, its name was changed from the Princess to the Roach. When Bud retired from the Quartzite Stone Company in the 1970s, the Roach became his hobby. After a few years it no longer made money. During the 1980s, keeping it open on weekends seemed to become Bud's passion. By then many people wouldn't go. After Bud used the gate receipts to pay the film distributor, no money was left to fix broken seats. The screen had a hole in it. The floor was sticky. The bathrooms, down narrow, winding stairs, lacked charm. However, you saved two hour's total driving time visiting the Roach instead of the big-city cinema. You knew most of the other patrons; local kids, adults and whole families went there. The event was familiar, genuine and warm. The popcorn was good. Customers worried that it would end CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Bob Crangle FOR THE SALINA JOURNAL with Bud's death. It did. It was 1993. That summer a small group organized to do something. In the fall the county commissioners sponsored a Kansas State University student team to do some research. The team came in June and July. 1994; before leaving they pre- seii'fed their results to local organizations and at the county fair in Sylvan Grove. There v.-ere articles in the Lincoln Sen- tirifcj-Republican. IB October. 1994, the Bud Finch Memo- riai Community Theater Foundation was formed. It earned tax-exempt status from the IRS, arranged to get its mail at Lincoln. Kan. 67455-0045, and set up fundraising events. The Lincoln Area Chamber of Commerce donated the down payment on a post rock building on main street, next door to the Lincoln Art Center. Volunteers helped to re-roof, gut and sandblast the building. The good news, the incredible news, is that in six months $45,000 has been collected from a small county with meager resources. So far a third — a third! — of the county's population has contributed time, money or both. But, as yet it has no sloped floor and no performing arts stage. Bathrooms and dressing rooms must be built. Plumbing, lots of electrical work, lighting and a furnace will cost money. There are no guarantees, and nothing's in the bag. Some Foundation members are worried, but they aren't giving up. They admit that the easy money has come in but they have to find another $50,000 or $60,000. The texture of a rural society depends on the quality of its people. One way to gauge quality is to see if they work persistently together for things they want for their families. By that measure, Lincoln County has some pretty high-class inhabitants. • Bob Crangle, Lincoln, is an attorney, consultant and member of the Salina Journal Board of Contributing Editors. B ill Clinton represented American interests poorly in Moscow. On the sale of Russian nuclear plants to Iran, he was taken in by — or participated in — a trick. One month ago, to create a "concession" to the naive American president, Boris Yeltsin's atomic energy chief upped the ante, letting CIA ears hear him consider adding centrifuges to the deal with Teheran. That outrageous act would be like selling mullahs the means to make a bomb right away, instead of in a few years with nuclear plants alone. It was a ploy. While brushing aside a Clinton plea to withhold nuclear facilities from Iran, Yeltsin grandly agreed not to add the centrifuges. Clinton said he was "deeply impressed" by this marvelous restraint, then failed to make a strong case against the plants on TV. Score a second victor^' for Yeltsin's generals on the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty. This was the agreement to limit Russian troops, tanks and artillery near the West from Norway to Turkey. But the heroes of Chechnya want to put a new 58th Russian Army in the Caucasus to dominate its freed republics, much as Russia now runs Georgia, Moldova and Belarus. This %vould menace Turkey as well, but apparently nobody told Tansu Ciller during her recent visit to the White House that Clinton would say "We are supporting the Russian position" in blithely changing a treaty ratified by the U.S. Senate. ESSAY William S afire THE NEW YORK TIKES The third defeat suffered by our absorbent president in this nadir of summits was about Chechnya. With the American next to him, Yeltsin brazenly told the world press "there are no military actions going on" in that bloodied republic., As he was mouthing this baldfaced lie, the Russian army was intensifying its shelling of rebel positions southeast of Grozny, following its Mylai-style massacre of unarmed civilians in Samashki one month ago. The Clinton response was to shut up. In his long, prepared speech later, he devoted two quick sentences to "this terrible tragedy" that could "erode support for Russia." Americans could well feel humiliated by their president's acquiescence in the lying in his presence, and by his failure to respond to that personal insult by broadcasting the truth. Many Russians were hoping he would express the dismay felt by the rest of the world at the brutality of the generals supporting the unpopular Yeltsin. But he hardly went through the motions. Watching on TV in his Duma office, reformer Grigory Yavlinsky said "not enough" when Clinton touched ever-so- lightly on the continuing Chechnyan . slaughter. And when Clinton praised Yeltsin for promising elections on time, as if that were proof of his democratic spirit, Yavlinsky said: "But we always had elections on time. The question is. what kind of elections — how open, how fair, how financed, how counted, how supervised." The White House spinmeisters will • say: but we got Yeltsin to join the Partnership for Peace, didn't we? C'mon, the PfP will go pfft at noon on Jan. 20, 1997. If the paper "partnership" is a fig leaf to cover the necessary eastward expansion of NATO, it fools no- , body; but if Yeltsin's plucking of the fig leaf means Russia expects to be invited to join NATO, there goes the neighbor^ hood — NATO would lose all meaning &s a deterrent to future Russian empire-rebuilding. Summits do not always yield mutual concessions; conflicting political inter- * ests are rarely ameliorated by displays; of cordiality. But a sign of an American President's seriousness and maturity in the conduct of foreign policy is the will-J ingness to admit intractability. We saw; that so clearly in Reagan's cold expres^ sion saying goodbye to Gorbachev in Iceland. , Bill Clinton and his anxious aides are; pretending this summit was a success > when they know it was a flop. They would gain more respect by reporting reality. Doonesbury HOiP DOWN THE FOKT,HON&.T KJPANPIAR& YOU'RE TAK- IH6UT7LZ &KLONAN YUP. I THOUGHT 1^ TAKE. HIM IH FOR H&HRSTTATTOO- MY TREAT 1 , I KNOW. SO MUCHfHR- >.

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