2007-08-17 / Letters

Thought-Provoking Column

Dear Editor,

Dear Editor,

John Paul Culotta's (The Progressive) commentary in the August 10 edition of The Wave is thoughtprovoking and well-stated regarding the need in any democratic society for a constant questioning of the status quo amongst our leadership. I am in agreement with the idea that "reformers" or so-called, "troublemakers" are often the necessary voice of change in a society which may, at times, find itself stagnating in the mire of outdated ideas, be they political, social or ethical.

In his article, however, he makes two statements, which are posited as fact, when in reality there is a need for further evaluation and discussion. The first statement alludes to the soldiers fighting in Iraq as "the least privileged" of our society, echoing a similar controversial statement by Senator John Kerry about a year ago. The facts show otherwise, however. In a report by the Heritage Foundation dated November 7, 2005 by Tim Kane, PhD and titled, "Who Bears the Burden? Demographic Characteristics of U.S. Military Recruits Before and After 9/11," the following conclusions were found: on average, recruits were more highly educated than the equivalent general population, they were more likely to be from rural regions than urban, there was NO evidence of minority/racial exploitation, there was a slightly higher percentage of recruits from the middle class than the lower income brackets and furthermore, a disproportionately higher level of recruits from the higher income brackets after the war on terrorism began. These facts stood out after a scientific analysis of the actual recruits in our volunteer army.

Culotta's other erroneous statement deals with our Congress, where he states that "less than a handful of the members of both houses of congress have relatives serving in Iraq. This is an outrageous fact." The implication is of course that our representatives have no direct stake in the war because their families are not under fire. This is again a controversial opinion widely distributed by ideologues like Michael Moore and also completely discredited once the facts are examined in full. An article by USA Today on January 23, 2007 revealed that many members of our Congress (House and Senate) do indeed have sons or daughters serving in the war; in fact the proportion of households in Congress with family in the war is slightly higher than the general U.S. population. To name a few: Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) FL, Rep. Todd Akin (R) MO, Sen. Max Baucus (D) Montana, Sen. Kit Bond (R) MO, Sen. Jim Webb (D) Virginia. There were several others named in the article which added that there are many in Congress that prefer not to make it widely known that they have family in the war out of concern for safety, privacy or security.

In the spirit of Culotta's article, I once again agree with the need to constantly question and verify and analyze the status quo. This is a double edged sword in our age of internet access. The press, politicians and pundits will, by necessity, have to be more vigilant in their reporting and political posturing. No longer will the populace settle for a stern voice and well-cut suit as the standard of truth. I would argue with Culotta that the number of "agitators" and "reformers" has grown exponentially with the advent of another revolution; the information age. If you don't believe me, Google it.

HAROLD PAEZ

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