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Everyone deserves respect

I am writing to share a simple idea, which is that beliefs do not change facts.

For example, one's beliefs about history - the creation of the universe, people dying and coming back to life, messages to prophets - do not change history.

If my beliefs clash with your beliefs, neither one changes what has already happened. Since we strive to learn about our past, maybe someday these gaps in our knowledge will be filled in.

Until then, can we simply agree to disagree? It would be respectful, and everyone deserves respect.

Heidi Brigham

Walla Walla

Whitman students collaborate with Ruby Ridge Dairy workers

"S, se puede!" The historic, rallying cry echoed on the streets of Pasco as protesters pressed for human rights on April 3. Repeating the United Farm Workers' famous motto, 10 of us from Whitman College joined immigrants and allies to demand immigration reform.

Seven of these Whitman College students are in the politics class, Whitman in the Global Food System. Each student in our class completes a "civic engagement project," which challenges us to apply what we learn in the classroom by actively engaging with our community. Our group decided to focus on the Ruby Ridge Dairy workers' struggles for unionization and basic worker rights.

The Ruby Ridge Dairy workers represent a migrant work force that is being manipulated and taken advantage of. The workers have been asking for respect and fairness, lunch breaks, bathroom breaks and income for the total hours they work. For nearly a year, the United Farm Workers have been campaigning with these workers to fight for justice. Recently, several faith groups in the community have joined the fight for these basic rights.

Throughout this semester, we have participated in two protests in Pasco. The first, in early March, we marched with Ruby Ridge workers, the United Farm Workers union supporters and the Oregon Farm Worker's Ministry toting signs that demanded equality and workers' rights. In April, we marched with hundreds of workers and supporters of immigration reform in downtown Pasco.

We also researched a wide range of issues, such as immigration, labor in the dairy industry and agricultural exemptions from labor reform throughout history. Lastly, we brought the documentary American Harvest to campus, which focused on immigration in the agricultural industry.

The struggle of the dairy workers in Pasco is a microcosmic example of nationwide struggles. By understanding this local problem, we hoped to better inform ourselves of the broader disparities in the dairy and agricultural industries. With the semester coming to a close, we hope to continue to follow and support this struggle. We ask the general public to help these workers who are being fired simply for wishing to make a fair living. We ask consumers to be wary of what products they buy. For example, Darigold purchases its milk from Ruby Ridge, so if consumers were more informed about the politics behind products, positive changes could be implemented. There will be more rallies in the fall you can join. Keep your ears open for opportunities if you are interested. Contact junior Roxy Pierson, piersora@whitman.edu, or sophomore Katie Radosveic, radosekr@whitman.edu, if you wish to be involved.

Maggie Allen

Walla Walla

Mice, snakes and the US Senate

It appears there was a little disturbance recently downtown. There were a whole bunch of uselesss jerks disrupting the honest merchants in their daily business.

I have a suggestion.

The next time they plan one of their little gettogethers, let's get some growers to go out in their fields and get a gunny sack full of mice and another one of precious garter snakes. And let them scent each other. And sit side by side ... for a few hours.

And let us wander into the crowd ... and let them rip.

Oh, by the way ... did I mention I am a candidate for the U.S. Senate?

I am. And I double-dog dare you if you think I'm kidding.

And I have never turned down a double-dog dare you ... ever.

Just watch me.

Norma Gruber

Walla Walla

Letter writer Hoffman hit the mark

Kudos to Richard C. Hoffman for his letter of April 26, ("Bardsley creates Twilight Zone in Walla Walla"). Mr. Hoffman's letter was well written, coherent, lucid and refreshingly honest.

Elaine Thompson

Milton-Freewater

Comments offered on illegal immigrations

This is in regard to the unknown protester on the front page hiding behind the "They Can't Deport Us All" poster:

The unmitigated gall of that sentiment, which seems to be so prevalent among the illegal immigrants, is exactly what is so infuriating to legitimate Americans. To those who sneak across our borders, take all the good things our country has to offer, and then spit in our faces while they do it, they do not have the moral high ground here.

In fact, their moral ground is the crumbling edge of a cliff. If you come here illegally you do not have the right to demand anything, let alone a voice in our political landscape. We don't owe you a thing.

Most of us don't need to see immigration reform, unless by reform you mean the abolition of the anchor-baby policy and the repealing of the "no communication between agencies" rule. We need to see immigration enforced.

I, too, believe families should not be separated. What I find fascinating is it never seems to occur to some that families could remain intact just as easily in their country of origin, only it would be legal for them to be there. The woman whose daughters cry for their father should take her children and go join her husband!

As to the law in Arizona, I am deeply disturbed by its necessity. In its purest essence this is a law that simply states it's illegal to break the law and spells out that police have the obligation to enforce the law! When did this become so foreign a concept that it required such a redundancy?

This law is in many places word-for-word identical to federal statute. If the federal government was doing its job, the states wouldn't have to take these measures to protect themselves.

I think I speak for the majority of Americans when I say we don't have a problem with people wanting to better their lives. To those who come here willing, shift their complete allegiance to this country and who respect the laws and culture here, you are welcome and we will do everything in our power to help you.

If you come here without honor or respect, we will send you home. That is our right as the legitimate citizens of this country.

Charity Smith

Milton-Freewater

Select lawbreaking can't be condoned

We are in the midst of a spreading disagreement. Protests and marches seem to come out of the woodwork. Sometimes it's hard to figure out what's what or who's who.

In this case, it looks like we should all side with the Arizona governor and Legislature. The stakes are big. If we Americans approve of selected lawbreaking this whole USA experiment in government will surely fail.

Terry Schoen

Walla Walla

Partners in education appreciated

Walla Walla Public Schools has proclaimed May as Partners in Learning Month to raise awareness of the vital role businesses, agencies and individuals have in our school system.

Partners in Learning Month is an opportunity for Walla Walla Public Schools to extend heartfelt gratitude to all our community partners who provide essential support to help Walla Walla Public Schools offer a first-class educational program.

Each May we organize annual celebrations to recognize the contributions of our district partners.

Our children and staff are the lucky recipients of a vast array of gifts from our community. With the gift of time, talents, professional services and financial support, these caring and compassionate people make a tremendous difference in our school district.

Their efforts have not gone unnoticed and our gratitude is more than we can express in a single letter. Their continued generous support touches every child in Walla Walla.

Cindy Meyer, School Board president

Walla Walla Public Schools

A roll call isn't an argument

While I agree with the author of the letter who said the "don't ask, don't tell" policy should go, I take serious issue with his approach to dealing with the issue. (See ‘Don't ask, don't tell must go' in the Union-Bulletin, May 4, page A6.)

With an air of apparent solemnity, he claims: "The ‘don't ask, don't tell' policy in the military is the most egregious violation of civil rights currently practiced in our country and it is authorized by the federal government."

One would expect that a judgment of that gravity would immediately be supported by at least one argument that justifies it. An attentive and critical reader is entitled to that. But no argument of any sort follows.

What is offered is a roll call of sorts in which it is noted that "almost all of the 26 counties participating militarily in NATO permit gay people to serve openly," and that "of the permanent members of the Security Council, only the United States and China do not." The roll call concludes with the observation that "other than Greece, all European Union members permit gays to serve openly in the military." Shaming a minority into acquiescence or submission is hardly ever a good moral position to take.

Further, and perhaps more important, a roll call is not an argument, let alone a well-reasoned argument, and it can in no case substitute for an argument, especially where moral issues are involved. Both logic and history instruct against that strategy.

Further yet, having triumphantly brought Obama in by the collar for having said one thing as candidate, and then failing to act consistent with it as president, the author of the piece asks: "Well, in God's name, what is he waiting for?"

The great trouble here is the author thinks the answer is patently simple or straightforward, and wants you to think so too.

But in one very important sense candidate Obama and President Obama are two very different realities. All our presidents, good and mediocre alike, have been like that. The truism is their shoes, as it were, fit differently over time.

As with roll calls, so with rhetorical questions, the justifying arguments must be filled in, and done so with care. Otherwise our fervor and passion can consort with the meaner spirits among us. And in this year of political reckoning we had better do our homework well.

Hollibert Phillips

College Place

Baseball is about wonderful memories

Ernie Harwell, the "voice of the Tigers" for as long as I can remember, passed away Tuesday.

He was a great announcer, but for a couple kids who accompanied me to the Kingdome when they were little, he was much more than that.

I took my boys to a Mariners game once a year back then, generally when my Tigers were in town.

John saw Detroit's historic run at the record for consecutive road wins end when the Mariners kept them from notching No. 18 on May 25, 1984; John and Nick saw Randy Johnson's first no-hitter on June 2, 1990, (and we have a baseball card for that one). But the big event for them was after an insignificant game as we waited by the player's gate in the hopes of grabbing an autograph. Alan Trammel and Lou Whitaker walked past us as if we weren't there. An elderly gentleman noticed the disappointment on their faces and came over to sign their programs.

When he learned I was from Detroit and grew up going to Tiger games at Briggs Stadium, he lit up like a Christmas tree! Afterwards, my boys asked me, "Dad, who is Ernie Harwell?"

Baseball is about memories, generally arising from some accomplishment on the playing field. But Ernie Harwell showed John and Nick it's also about respecting the fans who come to watch.

We have a new baseball team in town, and part of my mission with the Walla Walla Sweets will be to instill in our players a love and respect for the fans in the stands. Young, old and in-between, this game is for you!

Ernie Harwell knew that, and gave my boys a memory they'll share with their kids one day, as together they wait at the gate.

John P. Junke Sr.

Walla Walla

Find immigration solution together

We are in the mood to "reform" everything these days. First health care, with no true plan to lower exorbitant costs of insurance or medical care.

Then onto financial, where even the regulators are having trouble explaining the thousands of pages of new regulations banks receive almost daily.

Now we have immigration reform. What exactly do we want to reform here? We already have laws in place which allow tourists to come and visit, students to study from foreign countries, temporary workers to have work visas. We have green-cards for permanent foreign born residents to live/work/stay here.

What more do we need to accommodate those who would want to be here legally to live, work, raise a family, receive an education?

Before you think I am some nasty woman who hates immigrants ... slow down.

I wasn't born in this country. I was born to a "foreign woman" and an American father. To have any "American" rights, my father had to file papers, medical tests, pay fees, etc. to prove I was his legal child. To live in this country, my mother had to apply for a green card, undergo medical tests proving she wasn't carrying terrible diseases. There were interviews, fees, attorneys. It was a long process.

Every year, the Canadian government said that she would be deported if anything happened to my father. It didn't matter that my mother was Canadian and had all of her family there.

Finally, to keep our immediate family together should my father suddenly die, we came back to the States. Again, we went through the long "legal" immigration" process.

I know what it is like to find immigration laws difficult to navigate, what it is like to want to keep your family together. I also believe laws are there for a reason and if we are to remain a safe and civilized society, they need to be followed and respected.

We must accept personal responsibility and set an example for our children. I don't believe that granting amnesty every few decades is going to stop the flow of illegal immigrants.

We obviously need to do something to deal with those who are already here, but they must also accept responsibility for their own plight and work within the laws to be allowed to stay.

Maybe if we all work together with a strong sense of doing what is right for the country, we can help those who are already here and they in turn, can teach those who would seek to live here in the future, to do so legally.

Kathryn Southwick Hess

Walla Walla

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