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Dangerous wildlife 

My family and I have enjoyed camping in Arkansas and places west for over 20 years. For many campers, a main draw is encountering wildlife: we’ve been fortunate to see armadillo, big horn sheep, bison, black bears, a bobcat, deer, elk, moose, mountain lions, porcupines, raccoons, skunks and even a grizzly. I would like to assure the Observer that his ilk — handgun-toting, beer-swilling rednecks — have been the most threatening and dangerous wildlife we’ve ever encountered. If you are so fearful of nature that you require the “mental and physical insurance” of a handgun, please stay home. But let’s talk about that, too. You imply that you keep a handgun to ward off downtown panhandlers. Perhaps you should move west — to a gated community in Chenal. Many thanks to the park ranger who ticketed you, but one question: why just a warning? Time in the pokey would have made your entertaining camping trip even more memorable.

Suzanne Wilmoth

Little Rock

Learn from history

Re the issue of amnesty for insurgents in Iraq, just pretend for a second that giving a reasoned response to a policy proposal still matters:

During the American Civil War, while generals like Lee and Grant marched armies in and around Virginia periodically waging great battles, a very different war was going on in western Missouri. The state was quickly won for the North in the early stages of the war in 1861. But, a majority of the people in the counties surrounding Kansas City were Southern people who had already been fighting a war of words and bullets with anti-slavery unionists over the settlement of Kansas since 1854. Occupying Union forces, many Kansas troops bent on revenge for old grievances, sacked towns, committed atrocities and generally harassed these pro-Southern people. As a result, a guerrilla insurgency sprang forth. Common people who felt mistreated by their occupiers supplied the insurgents with information, equipment, and concealment. Each new act sent more teen boys from their farms into the woods to join these “bushwhackers.”

Just a few hundred became a few thousand as the years went by and they kept tens of thousands of Union troops and millions of Union dollars occupied. All of the attempts by the Union government to take a hard line and crush the insurgency backfired and created more insurgents and lent legitimacy to their cause.

As the official Civil War was coming to a close, there were still over a thousand of these outlaws actively fighting Union troops, killing civilians, and robbing people in the dead of night. The decision was made to give them all amnesty if they would surrender and pledge an oath to the Union. And they did. They came alone, in small groups, and in groups as large as a hundred. And then they went back to the farms they came from and resumed their normal pre-war lives. A handful kept fighting their private war and were killed. Another handful moved on to became professional outlaws, the most famous of these being Frank and Jesse James and the Younger brothers. But, imagine if the government had held a grudge and pledged to see them all hang at the end of a rope.

In war, especially unconventional war, the end can never come without forgiveness. In Iraq, we can’t expect them all to forgive us right now, but we have to give them a chance to forgive each other if they are to move forward.

Randy Ray

Benton

Take a stand

Patrick Fisk’s letter (“One-sided paper,” Nov. 16) caught my attention and occasioned my disagreement. Mr. Fisk maintains that “You have a duty to argue both sides or at least have a good balance of opinions.” Apparently he enjoys “pablum” journalism — journalism which lacks thoughtful conviction, resolve and analysis.

Journalists should take particular positions, stating them clearly and convincingly. They don’t serve the public well with what fraudulently passes as rhetoric, when their “balanced” approaches leave readers in ignorance of the writers’ opinions, intentions and views. What do the writers and reporters really think? How do they view and understand the importance of the objects of their writing and reporting? Do they even have opinions or understanding? I don’t so much want to read presentations of pros and cons (“balance,” for Mr. Fisk) as I want to know the opinions, views and perspectives of the writers, from which I have opportunity to learn, agree or disagree, and perhaps increase my understanding.

The Times unequivocally identifies and supports its editorial position (“bias,” for Mr. Fisk) with thought-provoking perspectives, opinions, analyses and persuasion. Why does Mr. Fisk find fault with that? If he wants pablum, let him read something else or watch TV.

Ted Bailey

Conway

Good advice

Jesus of Nazareth stood atop a mountain and shouted to everyone, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon Earth!” Good advice for Huckabees and all.

Gene Mason

Jacksonville

Getting worse

If anything, the standard of driving in this state is becoming worse and recent accident figures appear to substantiate this.

William G. Carlyle

North Little Rock

The war

The Iraq war has lasted almost as long as World War II. It has cost billions that could be used more wisely. Iraq is considerably more dangerous than Vietnam.

We have elected George W. Bush as our president. He certainly is not an idiot. But he has produced almost an infinite amount of lies to us and the world. He may end up someday in court as a war criminal.

The war in Iraq is a betrayal of the human race. We found out that we are not in Iraq for WMDs, but for oil, money and a pack of lies. When will the pain and suffering ever cease?

Harry Sharpe

Little Rock

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