Discussions about Islam, U.S. foreign policy and, as usual, partisan politics, grabbed most of the attention of our commenters this week. Readers also offered opinions on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and air conditioning in Columbia Public Schools. We picked a few of the best comments for our weekly column.
9/11: Gathering at Islamic Center promotes understanding
Comments: 74 / Commenters: 14
The Islamic Center of Central Missouri hosted an event promoting peace and understanding on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Readers hotly debated the presence of Islamic extremism and the general role of Muslims in American society, as well as foreign policy.
Jack Hamm wrote that the only way to sustain peace is by not starting a fight.
“The U.S. is without a doubt the aggressor in the Iraq war (among many others). The only thing needed for peace in that situation was for the U.S. to not invade a sovereign nation without just cause. Unfortunately too many Americans still buy the "threats" our government sells us hook, line and sinker.”
Mike Mentor wrote: “I am not willing to let my family and my Nation become victims of violence by trading our position of authority that comes with might for a position of weakness that relies on the belief that every other nation will forever act in a peaceful way as long as we do. ... I am not going to say that we have behaved perfectly in our attempts to mitigate violence on the planet. However, I do wholeheartedly believe that the planet is better off with the U.S. being the most powerful military and economic force on the planet.”
Columbia School District administration building addition, air conditioning use different funds
Comments: 19 / Commenters: 9
When the temperatures spiked last week, readers wondered why the Columbia School District’s new administration building had air conditioning while some of their children’s schools did not.
“Why don't the District Administration Buildings turn off their air on the days the schools let out early for heat?,” commenter Sally Willis wrote. “I think that would show real compassion and sympathy, actions speak louder than words.”
Jimmy Bearfield wrote: “All of the funds come out of the same pockets: taxpayers.”
Mike Martin wondered why Columbia Public Schools didn’t already install universal air conditioning years ago.
“... the case we're debating here, shows up in full regalia between resource-rich senior administrators building a $7.8 million HQ addition, and resource-poor teachers and school buildings who have to scramble for every penny, particularly in older parts of town. A former public administrator in Mexico, Mo told me recently it's a running joke in her town that Columbia schools still have to let out for heat days! It's such a throwback that even small communities like Mexico don't get it. I've never seen anything like it anywhere else, either, and I've lived all over this great land.”
Regency Trailer Park's plans to sell will force residents to leave
Comments: 29 / Commenters: 10
Last month the owners of Columbia Regency mobile home park agreed to sell their land to a student housing development company without telling their residents about the sale. Readers agreed that the trailer park should be closed but expressed dissatisfaction with how the situation was being handled.
Paul Allaire explained that some think that mobile homes don’t draw a fair share of property taxes and consequentially do not get fair treatment from city government.
“Cities and counties generally address these concerns by disallowing mobile homes outside of designated parks and then limit the number of parks by whatever means necessary, which undoubtedly forces up the lot rents and the value of the mobile home park, which is also taxed, to the point where there is less difference between the amount that one would spend for either. If the respective governments had any sort of moral responsibility, they would either disallow further sales of new mobile homes in their boundaries, allow for the creation of new mobile home parks, or zone some areas so that individuals are allowed to relocate mobile homes onto their own parcels. But they don't. They generally continue tightening the rules against mobile homes.”
Kevin Gamble railed against the new “cookie cutter” housing developments cropping up around Columbia like the one that will soon replace Regency.
“Is it just me, or is the entire southern part of the city being sold off to cheap-mass-housing companies from Texas? … The natural beauty and character of the city are taking a big hit. The infrastructure is taking a big hit. And the proceeds from these developments are flying out of state, as though Columbia's some kind of developing country being exploited from abroad. This is not making our town a better place. And a decade from now, when the cheaply-built buildings are wearing out and this kind of ugly mass development has sprung up elsewhere, these will be the run-down blights on what was an attractive, natural part of town.”
GUEST COMMENTARY: Collateral damage from 9/11 includes unresolved feelings
Comments: 13 / Commenters: 7
MU professor Samuel Cohen shared memories of the chaos in Manhattan on Sept. 11 and the actions of the nation since then. Readers strongly disagreed with Cohen’s disgust with US policy since the attacks.
Frank Christian felt Cohen’s pain, but questioned his commitment to the fight against violent extremism.
“Does anyone wonder how the vivid description of the loss of a loved one can thus be followed by the damnation … of the action taken to try to insure that it will never happen here again? Triumphalist patriotism? Should not some thanks be given that so far it has not happened again? Is there one who Knows that if we lay down our arms and "change our conduct in the region these men were from" we will be safe?”
Report lays blame largely on BP for gulf oil spill
Comments: 9 / Commenters: 4
A newly released federal report laid the lion’s share of the blame on British Petroleum for the April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion that went on to become the largest oil spill in the history of the US. Readers discussed the evidence and the lasting damage done to the ecology of the southern Atlantic coast.
“When I flew down to Florida on a business trip a month or so ago, it was mid-morning when I flew over the Gulf, and I could clearly see the sheen of oil patches on the surface where the sun reflected off the water. There were days worth of boat tracks criss-crossing the patches,” commenter Derrick Fogle wrote. “Just in case anyone wants to claim all the oil is gone, it's not. I saw it with my own eyes, just a few weeks ago.”
In a later comment Fogle made a parallel between oil consuming bacteria deployed in the Gulf of Mexico after the oil spill and humanity’s unchecked consumption of fossil fuels.
“Bacteria colonies will expand as fast as they can based on ability to feed on the oil. When the oil goes away, the colony quickly collapses and returns to it's normal, more natural size. Humans are exhibiting the exact same behavior, on our own scale, with access to oil. One would hope that humans turn out to be smarter than bacteria, but so far, it doesn't look like it.”
WHAT OTHERS SAY: Without investing in higher education, Missouri will flounder
Comments: 8 / Commenters: 4
The Missourian reprinted an editorial from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that said Missourians are not getting the education they need to be employed in a modern economy. Readers doubted the validity of the predictions.
“MU and other state schools keep having record enrollments, including out-of-state and foreign students,” commenter Jimmy Bearfield wrote. “Those students, parents and guidance counselors clearly believe that Missouri colleges and universities still provide a good value and a good education. This is Missouri's reality.”
Ellis Smith said it would be a good thing for the UM system if a cap is placed on enrollment.
“A cap allows the capped institution to raise its admission standards (and it has). This can raise problems for would-be students, but the faculty and alumni favor it. If size (enrollment) alone were the most important factor in the academic stature of a public university then Truman State University should be a mediocre academic university. It isn't. Deaton's guess was somewhere around 35,000 for MU. That's rapidly being approached.”