flap over Iranian Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s
trip to our state this past week, to speak at the United Nations
and visit New York City – as all world leaders do –
signals troubling changes in our approach to the world as a
nation, and to any ideas we don’t like, as a people. It
feels regressive, petty-minded and in need of some distance
so we can see what it must look like not only to the rest of
the world, but to ourselves twenty, thirty years from now.
Yes, Ahmadinejad has said some very bad things. Yes, Iran has
been a provacateur to our nation for half a generation now.
And yes, there are many who now feel we should be preparing
to go to war with he and they for having defied us over our
demands that they cease any nuclear ambitions.
But does that all mean we should put our fingers in our ears
whenever he starts to speak? Or refuse to read his letters to
us. Or refuse to talk to him? Or, as has been occuring all week,
we refuse to let him visit sights in our city that have meaning
to all in the world, including those we don’t care to
like? And bemoan anyone who does want to allow him his word,
to debate him on his stances?
If my son were to refuse to let a neighbor into our yard because
he didn’t like what he’d heard he’d said,
I’d talk to him about how we all need to move betyond
such childishness. But I’d also have to let him know that,
like it or not, such attitudes are rife in America these days,
and at the root of many of our gravest problems on a worldwide
They’re visible in the way more and more people will refuse
to watch channels besides the ones they like, or read newspapers
whose news they don’t agree with. Such activity, in our
view, limits our horizons and makes us all less able to function
within communities that are made up of anything but like-minded
Sure, there are some that say our nation was founded on such
principals… look at the Pilgrims or others who came here
to get away from persecution and set up colonies of their own.
But we say one should look deeper at the hard work our vaulted
Founding Fathers did to overcome the prejudices inherent in
such closed communities. And the distances they and others went,
over the years to ensure that we are United States, with a sense
of openness to ideas not always to our liking.
Are we really ready to let all of that history go simply because
we’re being led to hate a man who was not our first choice
to win Iran’s 2005 elections, four years after 9/11…
a tragedy that Iran commisserated with us for. Are we really
ready to get up on the world stage and say to everyone, “You
can come, but he can’t.” Where does that lead?
These are important things to consider as we enter our own election
season here in the Catskills. As well as during the next phase
of the approval process regarding Dean Gitter’s Belleayre
Resort project, or our dealings with Large Parcel legislative
threats, or the changes being called for throughout the Onteora
School District. Why? Because the same humanist qualities we’re
raising here will soon be needed for all of us to get through
each of these processes.
In terms of the elections, we are hoping that some local candidates’
tendency to refrain from attending Meet The Candidates events
be brought to an end. It behooves anyone asking for the public’s
vote to attend these events… to show that they care what
people think, and to show respecvt for the professionals from
the League of Women Voters who have been handling these events
in our towns in recent years.
To wit… we are currently working towards such events to
happen on Saturday October 20 in Olive and Sunday October 21
in Shandaken… in the morning for the former and the afternoon
for the latter, which both events occuring in each town’s
Town Meeting Hall. Invitations have gone out to ALL candidates,
no matter wherther they’ve got major party endorsements
or not. We hope everyone will find the time to make it and,
if not, send a statement as to whay they can’t. They’re
proud events… democracy at their best.
In terms of the resort project, we urge those parties who signed
on to the recent MOA with Governor Sputzer to explain their
deal to the people of the Route 28 corridor who will be most
effected by the project. And for the dialogue to begin with
the many local residents who still feel that what’s being
proposed is too much.
As for Large Parcel issues, we applaud recent moves we’ve
heard about that suggest that those in Olive concerned about
not getting hit with drastic tax increases again are now ready
to dialogue with officials and residents in other Onteora District
towns about their concerns, and how hard they were hit, and
hurt, by the law’s implementation a few years back. How
will such talk happen? That’s the next step.
Lastly, regarding Onteora, we would like to see whether what
we’ve been hearing is true… that the board is NOT
thinking of closing Phoenicia School but actually finding ways
to put the new district-wide Middle School onto the Bennett
Campus, close Woodstock, and re-open West Hurley because of
its growth potential, and ability to house Olive students (along
with Phoenicia) once the big changes start happening. If so,
say so. If not, let us know what you’re thinking.
These are all public processes that need strong dialgue, no
matter how uncomfortable it may get. That we hear what all have
to say is more important, we feel, than our simply hearing what
we want to hear.
Just as it’s important that we hear what this duly elected
president of our new rival, Iran, might want to say during this
week’s visit to our state.
As long as he’s not throwing sticks or stones, after all,
his words shouldn’t really hurt us. PS