A sampling of readers' letters, faxes and e-mail.
All are welcome who have nothing deemed a defect
Editor, The Times:
Quite a headline, “Hosting homeless: Magnolia objects”! [Times page one, April 26.] Among the many problems lifted in this article is that what housing is developed at Fort Lawton affects more than just Magnolia homeowners. Homelessness is a regional crisis: 8,439 per night in King County via our January 2008 One Night Count.
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Given this, how have we come to elevate NIMBY (not-in-my-backyard) as some right accorded adjacent ownership? Of course, it is telling that NIMBY tends to surface only when another class, perceived as lower, as some Magnolia owners deem them, are about to become neighbors.
In time, these Magnolia homeowners hopefully will realize most homeless are families, not single men (of whom only a very small percent have criminal histories). They will realize the staggering number of single women and mothers alone with children who are homeless. They will realize that for every victim of domestic violence safely housed, 16 are turned away. They will realize domestic violence, a leading cause of homelessness for women, is as frequent in Magnolia, albeit hidden, as in other sectors.
After all, Magnolia is making it clear: If you suffer any perceived defect, you are not welcome.
What a neighborhood! It’s very likely we’ll discover those exiting homelessness to Fort Lawton will have something more forgiving to say about their future neighbors than what we read from some in Magnolia. Let’s hear from the rest of Magnolia. Is this who you are?
— Bill Kirlin-Hackett, Lynnwood
Forging strong links
After reading “Hosting homeless,” readers would be forgiven for thinking that the typical Magnolian opposes housing for the homeless out of fear it will harm the herons or the neighborhood. But that is not true.
In fact, there are many Magnolians who welcome housing for formerly homeless men, women and children. It’s not because we’re in the dark about what the city is planning or that we don’t care about herons. It’s because we know from experience that homeless men, women and children are in every significant way like the men, women and children who live in Magnolia.
What the article leaves out is that there are many Magnolians who rejoice at the opportunity to share this space with others who have been less fortunate. We deeply believe there are sufficient resources in our neighborhood and in this city to meet everyone’s needs — herons and humans.
— Susanne Kromberg, Magnolia
Temper in empathy
“Hosting homeless” included a familiar set of fears on the part of Magnolia residents. I’ve come to think of such fears as “SOS” — same old stuff: drug use, domestic assault (mentioned in this article in terms of “wife beaters”), child rape, increased noise, public drunkenness, burglary and other criminal acts, and lowered property values.
In this case, Magnolia residents’ perceived loss of open space is also thrown into the mix, with photos of a nesting heron and schoolchildren on a bird-watching trip.
All this uproar amounts to one thing: fear of the Other. It doesn’t matter who that Other is: a different color, a different religion, a different sexual orientation, a different national origin, or a different economic status. Fear and anger shut down thinking. For instance, fearful and angry people can’t “hear” the fact that domestic assault happens just as frequently among rich people as among poor people.
Neighborhoods should not be given the choice to shut out whole classes of people. Property owners own their lots and houses, not the entire neighborhood.
We need housing for low-income and homeless people; that is undisputed. We — the city, the county, the state, or America as a country — must act on that fact, and site that housing wherever space is available. If we have the will to do so, fears eventually subside. That’s been proven over and over in our area when Tent City visits a neighborhood: the first time, fear and anger; the next time, neighbors bring food.
In Magnolia, just as in other neighborhoods, current residents will eventually notice that their new neighbors are human beings whose desires for a decent life are not that different from their own.
— Sally Kinney, co-chair, Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness, a program of the Church Council of Greater Seattle, Seattle
Disturbing the neighbors
We just want some peace
All the recent noise about former President Jimmy Carter’s talks with [militant organization] Hamas only diverts attention from the real problem [“Israel’s U.N. ambassador calls Jimmy Carter ‘a bigot,’ ” News, April 29].
If anyone really cares to resolve the conflict between Israel and its neighbors, then several truths need to be recognized.
The creation of Israel thrust a stick into a bee’s nest. This stick has poked, prodded and stirred the nest ever since.
Not surprisingly, the resident nest population has reacted strongly and many on both ends of this stick have suffered.
Those whose lives have been lessened or damaged by the process in which Israel was created have every right to reclaim what was lost. Israelis have every right to live their lives in peace, so long as this is not done at the expense of others’ rights to the same.
Until that is accomplished, probably through the creation of a viable Palestinian nation, there will be no peace. Only then will the majority, able to live the sort of life we take for granted, be willing and able to overcome the primitive and hateful elements bent on the destruction of Israel.
This population, without power, without a real voice or real representation, is not able to create the stability they deserve. Only the developed nations can step in and force the change that is demanded by morality. Do not punish the refugees for their sad state and do not punish the Israeli citizens wishing to live in peace.
Instead, punish the governments whose interests are too selfish to do what is right for all involved.
And those who find fault only where they wish to find it need to shut up and get out of the way. You are part of the problem.
— David Brown, Seattle
Love that you’re leaving
Hate how things were left
To John Moe [“Sorry, Seattle — I’ve found somewhere else,” NW Life, April 27]: You’re right: We haven’t been good for each other. How about this? I get the apartment (it was built as an apartment, by the way, not a condo) — you get the car, the dog, and your hundred thousand or so out-of-town friends. Frankly, having them around has been a strain on our relationship.
And dearest, with you and your friends gone, I think I’d have a shot at getting back to the city I used to be.
— Your erstwhile love, Seattle, aka, Jane Lotter, Seattle