Week of August 8, 2001

Onion Sliced
My respect was misplaced: I am an African-American conservative who rarely, if ever, agrees with the positions advocated by the Riverfront Times. But I will give credit to this publication when, in my opinion, it is deserved. The piece on Onion Horton enlightened me to the workings of the minds of people with similar views as Mr. Horton [Bruce Rushton, "Peeling the Onion," RFT, Aug. 1]. Besides exposing Mr. Horton's duplicity in race matters, questionable business dealings and outright theft of his former employers' funds, it also provided me a unique perspective into how aberrant thinking, coupled with resentment and anger, can and will corrupt personal ethics. All too common in America, a sense of victim entitlement is used to justify illegal behavior. I suspect if absolute candor could be guaranteed, this cancerous mindset played a significant, if not exclusive, role in his transgressions.

Although Mr. Horton's views are diametrically opposed to my own, I listened to his radio shows, enjoyed the dialogue and even shouted at my radio, but I always respected his views and more importantly the man. Now I realize my respect was misplaced. Mr. Horton claims he has no use for religion, but he should have taken heed of the Biblical verse that states, "What has been hidden in the darkness will eventually be exposed in the sunlight."
Christopher R. Arps

Knowing Nothing
My trouble with Bosnians: Does D.J. Wilson live in south St. Louis? Does he live anywhere near the Bevo area or Dutchtown? It's evident from his column, "Vocal Yokels," [RFT, Aug. 1] that he does not. By portraying the residents of St. Louis Hills as a group of uptight elitists who will stop at nothing to ethnically cleanse Willmore Park, he has made an error which obviously comes from his own ignorance of the situation.

I am a 19-year-old who has lived in the Bevo area of south St. Louis for more than 10 years now, and I have witnessed the wave of Bosnian and Albanian immigrants. There are currently several Bosnian families living on my block, as well as a new crop of Bosnian-owned businesses in the area. My problem is not that the Bosnians live here, but the problems they cause for long-time residents. Car-racing is one problem. I can't count the times I've driven down Gravois and been cut off suddenly by Bosnians racing their tricked-out sports cars. They have no regard for other people or their property, especially when they're driving.

My sister and a friend were recently involved in an accident when a Bosnian girl cut across two lanes of traffic on south Kingshighway to sideswipe them. When the police arrived, the officer recognized the girl as the culprit of not one, not two, but three other accidents in the past two weeks! She was driving with no insurance and a suspended license. Just the other day I was at my neighborhood QuikTrip when a middle-aged Bosnian man next to his 1999 Mitsubishi Eclipse held up his credit card in the middle of the parking lot and yelled, "No English, no English!" If he speaks no English at all, then how did he get his driver's license? How about that credit card? And why is he driving if he can't read English road signs?

Another problem is the disrespect some Bosnians have for this country. If D.J. Wilson lived in south city, he might be more aware of the number of insults aimed at Americans. I have neither said nor done anything to offend groups of Bosnian males who use sexually-explicit profanities to insult me as I walk or drive by. More often than not, the adjective "American" is attached to these insults.

For Wilson to imply that the Bosnians in Willmore Park have done nothing to merit police suspicion is pure ignorance. Before I sound like a hate-monger (which I'm sure will be the picture you paint of me), understand that my statement does not include all Bosnians. It primarily concerns the ones in Willmore Park and defends Americans who have problems with them.
Erin Frank
St. Louis

I've seen the light: Xenophobia is an ugly word. I didn't realize just how ugly until I went and looked it up after reading the article on Bosnians in St. Louis. And as I added it to my vocab list, I felt guilty and ashamed of myself because I have practiced this type of hatred also. I have given into the stereotypes that Eastern Europeans are dirty and misognynistic and just different. Your article made me realize that I was behaving in a way that I generally criticize others for. I was being close-minded and unjust. Hatred is a monster that sneaks up on you and before you realize it, it has taken over. We, as a nation based on differences, need to constantly check ourselves in the mirror or we might find that we are that monster that we fear so much in others.
Stephanie L. Fitzpatrick
St. Louis

Elevating the Gate Debate
Recognizing the park is a jewel: I would like to commend Eddie Silva for his column, "Gates of Eden" [RFT, Aug. 1]. Lawrence Halprin has deduced through analysis and experience that Forest Park is a St. Louis metropolitan jewel, a destination, and that the city has not celebrated this asset. His answer to the problem is a concept for an entry gate experience. Key words -- concept and experience. The experience is an identity, a relationship, a connection between Forest Park and the St. Louis metropolitan area. The concept is a general notion, an idea for creating this experience, an experience of reaching Forest Park and living the wonders within to the fullest.

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