War and Peace

Guns in an MLK parade? What's wrong with this picture?

So what, Buzz wonders, would Martin Luther King Jr. make of the war fever gripping certain parts of the country, specifically that part residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.? Young people putting on uniforms and taking up guns to march: Would King approve?

And what if they were marching in a parade to honor King himself, the champion of non-violent political change?

Sounds a little bit like having a Honey Baked Ham float in a Passover parade. Some would call that inappropriate--some members of the Dallas Peace Center, for instance.

"The legacy of Martin Luther King is non-violence," says Peace Center board member Hadi Jiwad, who was among those opposed to allowing ROTC and other faux-gun-toting color guards into last weekend's MLK Day parade, which coincided with a number of peace rallies nationwide. "Introducing militarism in that parade should raise some eyebrows."

In an effort to raise consciousness as well, some representatives from the peace center brought up the issue before parade organizers, but were--pardon us--shot down.

Jiwad says some of the reasons given for allowing a military element in the parade struck him as strange. The military provides a viable career option for many troubled black youths, was one counter argument. (A choice between jail or canon fodder, Jiwad calls it.) Another, coming from Anglos, was that non-blacks have no business interpreting King's legacy.

One person familiar with the discussion among parade organizers said the majority saw nothing incongruous with the ROTC participating in the parade. "It's not like Dr. King didn't go to rallies where they had guns," she says.

Parade organizers pointed out that peacekeepers with guns--National Guardsmen and police--were often called upon to protect King and civil rights leaders. Men in uniform, carrying guns, were there to integrate Central High School in Little Rock in 1957.

"They're peacekeepers, not warriors," she says of the color guards in Dallas.

For now they are.


As Jim Schutze suggests in his column this week, the city of Dallas can be a tad cavalier when it comes to managing its money, if by cavalier you mean "grossly incompetent."

The same can't be said of Dallas County Tax Assessor-Collector David Childs' office. The staff there literally keeps track of every penny owed, whether they want to or not.

Just ask Dallas homeowner Linden R. Bransom, who this month received a tax bill from Childs' office for 2 cents.

"Can you believe that?" Bransom asked Buzz with a laugh.

Bransom says he had already paid his property taxes when someone calculated that he had underpaid slightly. So he received a second bill, which when you figure postage, envelope and staff time no doubt cost much more than 2 cents to produce. "It's hard to believe they would go through all this trouble," Bransom says. "I just think it's hilarious."

So did Buzz, until we spoke with Childs, who explained that bills for chump change are not that uncommon for the simple reason that people demand them.

Childs says that when he first took office he had the same idea as Bransom: Don't mail tiny bills that cost more to process than they're worth. But the complaints rolled in: three to four times as many complaints than his office gets about the little bills.

The bills provide homeowners other information, as well, on exemptions and the breakdown of taxes, for instance. People like that.

"It's really a matter of just being able to keep their records," Childs says. "It's rooted in accurate bookkeeping."

Dallas, apparently, has a large population of obsessive A-types, at least when it comes to money. Too bad the city isn't hiring.

 
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