Letters: Wednesday, October 3, 2002
Stop the Train for Progress

To the editor: Earlier this month, as some of you recall, an old Fort Worth icon (the Tandy Center train) ran its last course. I was there.

As a child, I remember what a thrill it was to ride the “downtown subway.” My family and I would always look forward to Tandy Center shopping and downtown eating. Those were some of the fondest memories of my life. I grew up and moved to NYC. There I learned what it was to ride a subway system. The noise, crowds, and chaos could confuse the heartiest of New Yorkers. Still, I remembered my little train back in Texas.

Now, my wife and I have moved back. And one of the things that reminded me of home was parking in the Tandy Center parking lot, riding the “subway,” and spending the day shopping, eating, and drinking. To say that I was quite saddened by the news that my first example of subway riding would be no more is an understatement. For the shoppers in the old historic area, this came as quite a blow to the morale and historic atmosphere as well. And they let me know it. I stopped counting the complaints that I heard that day — around 15 or so.

No longer will I go to downtown Fort Worth in the same manner. Sure, I still have free parking (thanks to the Bass brothers). But where’s the charm? Instead of a nice train trip down memory lane, I have to ride an elevator down from one of the parking garages. Instead of sitting down and absorbing the color of ol’ Fort Worth, I have to fight traffic and tightly squeeze into small parking spaces.

Ah well, I guess we have to chalk another one up to “progress.”

Johnny R. Baltierra


Civics Lesson

To the editor: In your mischaracterization of the Tarrant County Commissioners Court in your Sept. 19, 2002 (“Best of the West-O-Plex”) issue, you have done a huge disservice to your readers. The commissioners have far more responsibility than just “maintaining a few miles of roads for 80,000” of the county’s 1.5 million residents. While a complete description of county services would fill a chapter of a high school civics textbook, a few highlights will have to serve to illustrate the real responsibilities of the commissioners court.

Tarrant County provides services for all county residents, including the 500,000 who live in Fort Worth. The commissioners court oversees the operation of about 75 civil and criminal courts and the county jail. The county also keeps records of many essential documents, from marriage licenses to real estate transactions. Throughout most of the county, departments operate as a regional government offering services to many smaller cities with a tax-saving central administrative office. For example, the Public Health Department provides services ranging from disease prevention to restaurant inspections.

The theory that the commissioners court is mainly only effective in rural settings is erroneous. The responsibilities of the commissioners court increase in an urban environment because the demand for the services it oversees is greater than in rural counties. Your readers may go to our web site at www.tarrantcounty.com for a more accurate description of county services than the one you provided.

Marc Flake

Public Information Officer

Tarrant County

“They” Are Us

To the editor:The letters in response to your cover story about American Muslims (“Strangers in their Homeland,” Sept. 5, 2002) deserve a due response, for we will better the world by trying to understand each other, rather than relaying angry words.

Contrary to the letters published last week, Muslims, too, lost their lives in the World Trade Center attack. Like all Americans, they worry about flying in planes and going to work in high-rise buildings. Some people want every Muslim voice to cry for forgiveness, to apologize for terrorism. Yet the Sept. 11 terrorists have hurt American Muslims deeply. No one can deny that the Muslim faithful, whose name and creed are attached to the vilest acts against humanity, want to see the terrorist menace disappear. Likewise, no one can expect Muslims to apologize for the crimes of their own victimizers.

Those Americans who scapegoat or vilify American Muslims also ignore how Muslim lives have been altered by the Sept. 11 tragedy — a story that largely constituted the “Strangers in their Homeland” article. In terms of direct sociopolitical repercussions, Sept. 11 has arguably hurt Muslim Americans more than other Americans. Muslim parents worry their children may be arrested without reason. They fear they will lose the rights dear to every American: freedom of speech, right to assembly, due process before the law, and the civil protections undermined by the USA PATRIOT Act. There is a constant feeling of apprehension.

Lastly, it is ignorant to believe that Muslims have a monopoly on violence against noncombatants. Even if we have forgotten the modern history of massacres, from Hiroshima to Viet Nam to Rwanda, we must recall that just in the past year’s War against Terrorism, more innocents — most of them Muslims — have died than in the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. Just as there are Muslims who thrive on hatred, there are people of other faiths and ideologies whose anger gives rise to hatred and violence.

There are about 6 million Muslims in this nation. They may be your neighbors, your children’s classmates, your doctors, your cab drivers. America cannot wish them away. In fact, you would do better not to consider Muslims as “them.” They are part of America — hence, part of you. Spewing ignorance in published letters serves no good purpose. May we all strive to understand and love each other.

S. M. Shah


Editor’s note: Mr. Shah is the father of Naureen Shah, who wrote “Strangers in their Homeland.”

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