Cultural ignoramuses


I have read your "Fluff" column ("Misguided Muslims," May 25) in the Dallas Observer. What's so ridiculous is you! If anybody is misguided, it is you! You think Steve McGonigle is one of the best reporters The Dallas Morning News has!

People like you and Steve McGonigle are so ignorant about Islam and Muslims. It is not even funny! Sometimes I wonder whether it's ignorance or plain hate for anyone who does not look and think like you do.

I'm not sure you've ever heard this statement: "Think education is expensive? Try ignorance." Your column is poorly written. It has no substance except trying to defend your buddy Mr. McGonigle. What is the "something" that it is a proof of? You could not even qualify that. The few hundreds of stories were not enough for you. Should it be a few thousand? One article is too many!

Both of you absolutely have nothing to offer the society you live in except promoting your own stupidity to the rest of the city. I challenge both of you to sit down in a town hall meeting with some intellectuals from around the city (Muslims and non-Muslims) to debate this issue and find out whether people with brains think that The Dallas Morning News, Steve McGonigle, and Eric Celeste are biased and racist or not. Are you up to it?

Waseem Nasrallah
Via e-mail

From Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary: Bias--A highly personal and unreasoned distortion of judgment: prejudice.

One-sided--Having one side prominent or more developed: limited to one side.

I could go on with the vocabulary lesson, but I'm sure you get the point. You claim that the articles published by The Dallas Morning News are "proof of something." Proof of what, sir? Could you be a little more specific? Are you saying that because the DMN reports on terrible acts done by so-called Muslims is proof that Islam equals terrorism, and Muslims equal terrorists? The issue is not that the DMN reports on stories that shine a negative light on Muslims and we don't like it. That is not the issue, sir. Do so-called Muslims commit terrible acts from time to time? Of course they do. We are not blind and ignorant. The issue is balanced and unbiased reporting. Isn't that what journalism is supposed to be about? The DMN has a responsibility to report what happens even if it does not shine favorably on a certain group of people. They also have a responsibility to be fair in their reporting. Are all the things that Muslims do connected with terrorism? What percentage of Muslims engage in these acts? What is that number compared with the majority? How many negative stories about Muslims has the DMN reported? What is that number compared with the positive stories? How many articles have the words "Islam" and "peace" in them? What is that number compared with the stories that have the words "Islam" and "terror" in them? Where are the articles that have Muslims' opinions on terrorism? Where are the articles that show what Islam teaches? Where are the articles showing that the word "Islam" comes from the root words silm and salaama, which mean peace and submission? If they're not there, then the reporting is biased. It doesn't take a genius to see that. When only certain aspects of a story, or community are shown, then the reporting is one-sided and biased. Plain and simple.

Perhaps you feel that the Muslims in the Dallas-Fort Worth area have no lives, nothing better to do, or that we don't have families to raise. Perhaps you feel that we are just complaining. The fact that we are protesting shows that there is a problem. We have brains. The fact that there is a Web site and protests in front of the DMN is "proof of something." No? We don't want special treatment or suppression of the news. We want justice, balanced and unbiased reporting, fair treatment in media, knowledgeable stories, facts, etc. It's really basic. Perhaps you should have spoken with some local Muslims or the leaders of this movement to see what the deal was before opening your mouth. Ninety-nine percent of Muslims are not Osama Bin Laden, and we are tired of being labeled as such. Wake up!

Via e-mail

Steppin' out with Mr. F

Mr. Schutze, I must commend you for another stinging, evocative piece on the--I'll use your newly nominated word--appalling southern Dallas public pools situation ("Deepest depths," May 25). I have been a freelance journalist for a few years now, and if I wrote as eloquently and as bitingly as you, I would no longer need to freelance. But I digress. Once again, you have accurately pinpointed the problem in keeping those pools open--it's back-stabbing, self-centered city council politics. [Council members Barbara] Mallory Caraway and [James] Fantroy sure did a lot to lock up re-election votes by shutting the door (and then leaning their bureaucratic fat asses against it) on the funding of those pools. It's May, the temperatures are hitting 100 degrees, and school is out. Where are these kids going to go? What will their parents tell them?

"Sorry, honey, but the city of Dallas--in particular, Mr. James Fantroy, whose child has never swum in one of those pools and doesn't even live here--got your pools closed."

How is it that right-minded people like yourself, [Council members] Mr. Leo Chaney, and Ms. Laura Miller continue to run into mindless, self-serving politicians like [Paul] Dyer and [Dwaine] Caraway? I don't understand it. I struggle to grasp the mentality of these people and how they can sit back, with smiles on their faces, and talk about their ranches in wherever-the-f**k, and take away precious enjoyment from these children. Another reason I do not live in Dallas. It's incomprehensible to me.

Keep fighting, Mr. Schutze, and keep writing. People are listening.

Chris Gilbreath
Via e-mail

Hail to the chief

I enjoyed Miriam Rozen's article on Dallas police Chief Terrell Bolton ("Bolton's blues," May 11). I was referred to in the story as a member of the Dallas Police Review Board. I had been a member for seven years, but have recently resigned.

I would like to make several points:

— Chief Bolton pledged a diverse department but has exiled all non-blacks from his office. Check it out.

— He demoted people with top-notch credentials without any regard for their standings.

— He promoted others to those positions without any regard for ability or experience.

— Morale is nonexistent. Officers are flocking to other cities.

This once fine department is in disarray. I am sorry, but this city already has enough fools and village idiots.

Thank you. I feel a lot better already.

Roy Honeycutt

Take a trolley Uptown

Jim Schutze's article "You can go home again" (May 18) was a great tribute to the tenacity and hard work of Trey Bartosh and David Spence as they pioneer residential redevelopment in North Oak Cliff.

But I take issue with Jim's--and my friend Bennett Miller's--allusion to our "made-up" Uptown neighborhood as the "Magic Kingdom," devoid of historic architecture, yet having a "pretend trolley system."

In reality, early Uptown developer Robert Shaw and McKinney Avenue Transit Authority (MATA) founder Phil Cobb--along with numerous other neighborhood land owners--have worked together for 20-plus years to assure preservation of historic neighborhood homes and buildings, while carefully designing new structures to blend in with the old. The resulting pedestrian-friendly ambience is partly why, in the past five years, more than 5,000 "neighbors" have chosen to move into Uptown, either leasing an apartment or purchasing a town home, condominium, or single-family home.

And as MATA currently expands to CityPlace to the north and the West End to the south, ridership of the trolley will continue to grow. The trolleys are not "pretend trolleys"--they circulate thousands of visitors annually, thanks to the hard work of numerous MATA volunteers.

Another item I want to mention is that while Robert Shaw headed up Columbus Realty Trust, Columbus provided Bennett Miller with the financing to adaptively redevelop the American Beauty Mill (built in 1912, south of downtown Dallas) into 80 loft homes. So you might say New Urbanists helped save that historic structure.

The success of American Beauty Mill and recent successful residential development in downtown Dallas, Oak Cliff, and other inner-city neighborhoods is due in large part to Robert Shaw and his successful implementation of the tenets of New Urbanism in Uptown Dallas. His vision and early financial risk have paved the way for a host of successful new developments, including FRAM's new luxury high-rise, The Mayfair at Turtle Creek.

And one last thing: Yes, we "made up" the name "Uptown," just as developers in years past "made up" the names "Highland Park," "Oak Lawn," and "Oak Cliff."

I wish Trey Bartosh and David Spence much continued success and look forward to more good feature articles by Jim Schutze.

Kyle Crews

Muddy waters

Your recent article on Sam Rayburn Reservoir ("Belly up," April 20) and our paper mill at Lufkin requires clarification and a clear statement of what the facts are, at least from our perspective. We have attempted to confine ourselves to the most important issues raised in your article.

We hope our comments on key issues in the public discussion will help your readers have a more clear view of what we believe is important.

1. Rule change: The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission rule change is based on scientific data gathered from the area of the proposed new segment of the Angelina River and similar areas nearby. The data-collection process was overseen and approved by the TNRCC.

This change, along with our investment of more than $200 million, will mean that Donohue's process water effluent will be in compliance with all applicable standards and limits. This rule change will remove the non-science-based default classification that occurred several years ago. This change is critical to the continued operation of the Lufkin Mill.

2. Our $230 million modernization: The mill is undergoing a $230 million modernization. The goal of this project is a 50 percent reduction in the amount of biological oxygen demand (BOD) produced in the paper-manufacturing process. Significant reductions in air emissions and solid waste will occur as well.

3. Best available technology: Once the modernization is complete, we will employ the best technology available in the pulp and paper industry.

4. BOD permit limits: The mill already operates under the most restrictive BOD permit limits of any bleached kraft papermill in the South.

5. Compliance with current standards: Even with this multimillion-dollar commitment to reduce effluents and emissions and make the Angelina River cleaner, the Lufkin Mill will not be able to meet the water quality standards that currently apply to the proposed new segment of the river. The Sam Rayburn Reservoir will retain its current high aquatic life use designation.

6. The river cannot comply: The fact is, the river itself cannot comply. Even if you remove discharges from the Lufkin Mill altogether, this naturally occurring waterway could not meet the existing non-science-based default classification.

7. Science-based standards: It is not reasonable to hold the Lufkin Mill to a standard the river itself cannot meet, much less a standard not based on sound science.

8. High aquatic life: High aquatic life does not survive upstream of the paper mill. High aquatic life cannot survive in the Attoyac Bayou, the reference stream used in our studies to support this change in designation.

Nature sets the conditions that make these streams in East Texas so sluggish and dense. The organic material absorbs much of the available oxygen in the water. The low oxygen levels in these streams are less desirable to high aquatic life. With or without a paper mill, this part of the river can support only intermediate aquatic life.

9. Upper Angelina is a bayou: The Attoyac is called a bayou because that is the nature of that stream. Scientific studies have shown the same conditions exist in the Upper Angelina River.

10. The 1998 fish kill at Sam Rayburn Reservoir: The 1998 fish kill has been extensively studied by many state agencies, particularly Parks & Wildlife. Parks & Wildlife has determined that the likely cause of the fish kill was the largemouth bass virus. This virus also hit nine other Southern states and was probably caused by high temperatures and low lake levels.

Four times a year, minnows are put in straight 100 percent effluent from the Lufkin Mill for two days to test for effluent toxicity. The fish have always survived the test. Based on all we know, Donohue's operations had nothing to do with the Sam Rayburn Reservoir fish kill.

11. Bass recovery: Just look at the results of recent bass tournaments. Sam Rayburn Reservoir is producing quantities of fish of normal and championship size. At a recent B.A.S.S. Tournament, it was reported that more than 3,000 fish were caught. The winner caught 15 fish with a total weight of 55 lbs. We also learned of a recent trophy bass from Sam Rayburn Reservoir that weighed 13.77 lbs.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to and clarify important parts of the record.

Seth Kursman
Vice President
Government Affairs and Communications


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