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Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:
Congratulations to Melinda Roth for her cover story on Tim Dreste ("The Conviction of Tim Dreste," RFT, May 12). While Dreste was fined millions by an Oregon jury for threatening to murder local doctors, local news media has given very little coverage to this story.

I would like to focus attention on an area that Roth's article briefly mentioned, and that is Dreste's relationship with the Missouri Republican Party. Dreste was chosen by Republican leaders to sit on the State Central Committee, the highest body of the state Republican Party. In other words, Dreste is not some small-time player with the Republicans -- he is in the top leadership.

Dreste is merely one example of Republican Party ties with violent extremist groups in Missouri. Last year, student activists at Washington University asked for the Republican Party to remove neo-Nazi leader Dennis Nix as committeeman in Johnson County. Nix illustrated the first edition of The Turner Diaries, the book whose call for igniting a race war through bombing a federal building is widely seen as the inspiration for the Oklahoma City bombing.

In March 1995, three Republican state legislators (David Klarich, Rich Chrismer and Bill Alter) spoke to a meeting of the First Missouri Volunteers. This group is an extralegal paramilitary organization with ties to John Trochmann and other white-supremacist leaders.

The Republican Party has a pattern of cultivating ties with violent extremist groups. Dreste is only the latest example. I encourage anyone who identifies as a Republican to send a copy of the RFT article to the most prominent Republican leader they know and demand that they remove Dreste from the State Central Committee and cut all Republican Party ties with violent extremist groups. After Roth's article, Republicans in Missouri cannot say that they don't know what is happening in their own party.

John Hickey
Missouri Citizen Education Fund

To the Editor:
Melinda Roth states that Tim Dreste's reputation is "domestic terrorist, religious fanatic, paramilitary right-wing nut."

Roth accompanied Dreste to his church, the Apostolic Christian Church in Hazelwood, but she unfortunately slept through the sermon. She came away from church having only learned that his church was small and that a good percentage of the church members were related to Tim. Roth did not report one important fact: Dreste's church is officially pacifist.

The Doctrinal Standpoints of the Apostolic Christian Church, Statement of Faith No. 12, says, "We believe that government is ordained by God to enforce law and order, and to prevent evil works. Government should therefore be supported and obeyed. Laws and ordinances -- local, state, and national -- are to be respected and conscientiously obeyed, except when to do so violates the commandment of God (emphasis mine). The call to military service likewise is to be respected and obeyed, but with the Biblical limitation to noncombatant service as taught by Jesus Christ: 'Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.'"

Although I am not a member of Dreste's church, it is well known among knowledgeable Christians that the Apostolic Christian denomination, along with the closely related denominations of the Amish and Mennonite churches, share at least three distinctives: (1) their German roots, (2) their belief in living simply and (3) their pacifism. The historical roots of these churches are in what is now Germany and Switzerland. These Christians were persecuted by their governments in the 18th and 19th centuries because the young men refused to serve as combatants, so many of these Christians emigrated to the United States.

Why were your readers not informed of the doctrines of Dreste's church? Perhaps because they contradict Dreste's dangerous "reputation," as manufactured by the abortion industry. Or perhaps these subtleties are too much for The Riverfront Times' mind, which quickly tosses such Christians into the "anti-government" category. Throughout history, Christians have stood against governments when a particular government was promoting evil and not restraining it. Be assured that God's government will outlast any government that protects the killing of babies.

Kurt Prenzler


To the Editor:
Thanks for your "Commentary" on the situation brewing at TWA ("TWA: One Strike and You're Out," RFT, May 12). Unfortunately, I don't think you fully understand the gravity of the situation. As a member of the Machinists Union and an employee of TWA for the past 15 years, I can say that we are fully prepared to strike. This is not a bluffing game for us.

For the past 14 years, we have given the company wage and benefit reductions, as well as other givebacks, to keep this company afloat. The last one was in 1994, when we were told that with that package, the company would be able to become competitive. We agreed on the premise that it would be made up to us on the next contract.

Here we are in 1999, still with no substantial increase in pay. On top of that, our pension plan is frozen. An employee hired in the 1980s can expect a pension at retirement of about $120 per month.

Ray, we are fully aware of the financial situation of this airline. But we can no longer afford to mortgage our future with a company that clearly has no clue how to turn a profit. We have given back too much, and asked our families to sacrifice for too long, for us to further risk our futures without some sort of security.

Would a strike be foolish of us? No, it would be the sanest decision we have made since 1986.

Erik Schlake

To the Editor:
In Ray Hartmann's May 12 "Commentary," he sounded more like one of TWA's paid puppets than a fact-gathering newsperson. The article was filled with the same crap TWA has been spewing for months.

William Compton and his grossly overpaid underlings have set forth on a media campaign to vilify the Machinists Union and its members, to make us look like money-hungry fools who will stop at nothing to get our pockets lined with cash. I and a vast majority of my union brothers and sisters are willing to take a stand for what is ours, and if that includes a strike, so be it. I have spent over half of my life -- 26 years, for the record -- working for this airline, through the good times and bad, from one owner to another.

Our always-overpaid and golden-parachute-stealing presidents and CEOs have flown this airline into the condition it's in, not the people who are out on the line loading and unloading. Not the people selling tickets and taking crap from every pissed-off passenger because the weather in Chicago has caused delays here. Not the mechanics who with great skill keep our fleet in top-notch shape at all times. The people who do the work that keeps this airline going, the people who make sure you are on the "on-time airline" by busting our asses to do what it takes to keep our customers happy.

We are the reason this airline is flying today, not the bulging-pockets officers of this company. Mr. Compton and his misguided staff of negotiators have chosen the path this airline will follow. We have, in good faith, given and given to save this airline from doom. It has gotten us nothing but more doom. The reasonable raise, as you called it, that the company is offering us is not reasonable at all. The contract that they let run out would have paid us more at its end than they are offering today. But even then, they took back money to bring us back to our feet. So, the offer that they have given us would not even bring us back to that contract's level. We would be taking yet another loss in pay by signing. Is this a reasonable offer? How much of a pay cut has Mr. Compton or any of his cronies taken? Why don't they give up 50 or 60 percent of their pay to put the money back into the cash drawer? Why don't they give up their retirement package, since they have stolen ours from us?

Mr. Compton wants us to give in again to the cry of wolf. TWA has cried wolf too many times for us to sit by and watch them fly us into the ground. No one here is trying to "wring out greater concessions," as your article stated. This is not a game to see if we can bluff our way into more money. If they are serious about saving this airline and doing what is right for all concerned, they will give us a fair and just contract to vote on and give the people doing the work the money they have earned and deserve.

Chris Jones

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