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At the TimesLedger our heart goes out to all the families in Queens who have loved ones hunkered down in the Iraqi desert, loading supplies at a staging area in Kuwait or standing on the dangerous deck of an aircraft carrier. We learned last week that the war to liberate Iraq was not going to be a cake walk, as so many Americans had hoped. Every American serviceman or servicewoman shipped to the Middle East to fight this war is standing in harms way.
The United Nations Security Council, like much of the world, was divided about the necessity for invading Iraq at this time. Many pleaded with the United States and Britain to continue with diplomacy giving Saddam Hussein more time to disarm. But no one in America of note was foolish enough to take the side of the Butcher of Baghdad. That changed last week. Nicholas De Genova, a professor speaking at a Columbia University teach-in, said, "The only true heroes are those who find ways that help defeat the US military." Then, referring to the ambush of US Marines in Somalia, he added, "I personally would like to see a million Mogadishus."
If your son or daughter, niece or nephew, husband or wife is fighting in the war to liberate Iraq, this Ivy league professor of anthropology would like to see them massacred. In the same week, protesters engaged in a die-in, blocking city streets so that New Yorkers would realize what it looks like when people die in a war. Perhaps these protesters were bussed in from Kansas of Iowa. Otherwise they would know that New Yorkers know very well what it is like to see thousands of innocent people die in an act of war. The memory of 9/11 still burns in our hearts.
In a country that cherishes free speech, there is little that can be done about a moral midget like Professor De Genova. But there is something we can do to show our support for the thousands of Americans fighting in this war. Whether or not they agree with the decision to begin a military action, we are certain that nearly all the families living in Queens, no matter their ethnicity or religion, want to see our men and women come home safely.
We can show that unity of heart by tying a hundred thousand yellow ribbons to our homes and businesses. This symbolic gesture would bring a little comfort to those families who have sent a loved one to fight this war.
The community activists who advocate a change in the as-of-right zoning regulations that allow public facilities to operate virtually wherever they please are turning up the heat on local politicians. Last week they made their pitch to the Queens County Line Democratic Association in hopes of drumming up support before anticipated zoning reforms are announced by the City Planning Department.
These organizations argue eloquently for changes in the law that keeps churches, shelters and rehab centers opening on sites where private homes once stood. Conversely, the people that run such facilities have little or no political voice. The churches, temples and mosques often serve immigrant populations or people living on the margins of society.
A change in the zoning rules is needed to protect the quality of life in Queens. But in doing so, we must make certain that we do not make it impossible for organizations that serve the neediest residents of this borough to function. In the years to come, like it or not, we will need more group homes for mildly retarded adults, more homes for unwanted children and more treatment centers.
It is important that the weakest in our society are not without a voice in this process.
©2003 Community Newspaper Group
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