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That Divisive, Radical, Activist Peace Bridge 

All we are saying...There haven't been any riots in the streets. Nobody has hanged Linda Johnson in effigy. Nobody has thrown his shoes at Bruce

click to enlarge All we are saying...
  • All we are saying...
All we are saying...There haven't been any riots in the streets. Nobody has hanged Linda Johnson in effigy. Nobody has thrown his shoes at Bruce Abernethy.

In short, none of the "anger" predicted by The Bulletin's editorial board if the Bend City Council did the dastardly deed of designating a local "Peace Bridge" has materialized.

What was all the fuss about? Just this: The largely lame-duck council, on a 5-2 vote, approved a resolution stating that it "hereby proclaims the Portland Avenue Bridge be designated the 'Peace Bridge of Bend,' so that this public structure, built to bridge physical divides, may now come to symbolize our collective will to bridge our human divides; this for the benefit of our children and their children, that they may grow to understand peaceful resolution of conflict takes patience, and courage, and a desire to foster tolerance and celebrate diversity in our community."

Wow. "Peaceful resolution of conflict." "Fostering tolerance." That's some far-out radical stuff.

The Bulletin has had its editorial panties in a bunch ever since the Peace Bridge idea was first proposed almost a year ago by what the paper described as "a small but determined group of activists." ("Activists" is a term of opprobrium to Bulletin editorial writers; "passivists" evidently are preferred.) Those sneaky activists, the paper charged, wanted "to use the city's infrastructure to make a political statement."

Is supporting peace a political statement? The Bulletin claimed it was: "Even though 'peace bridge' supporters argued that they wanted to encourage the nonviolent resolution of all conflicts - not merely the one in Iraq - the context told another story. The 'peace bridge' is, and always was, the 'no war in Iraq bridge.'"

So even though the resolution doesn't mention the war in Iraq, and the website of the group promoting it says nothing about the war in Iraq, the Peace Bridge is the "no war in Iraq bridge." You get that? No, we don't either.

In its latest blast against the Peace Bridge designation, The Bulletin clucked: "Using a piece of public infrastructure to make a barely disguised political statement will please a small number of very committed people. But it will do so by irritating a much greater number of Bend residents who want their bridges to carry traffic, not messages."

Of course Bend already has a Veterans Memorial Bridge with an adjacent walkway named after Lance Cpl. Randy Newman, a Bend solider who was killed in the Iraq war, but we don't believe anybody in town construes that as a political message endorsing the Iraq war or any other.

The Bulletin warned that passing the Peace Bridge resolution would "generate anger." But the only anger - indeed, the only opposition - we have seen to it so far has come from the Bulletin editorial page and the right-wing blog Oregon Catalyst.

So here's a GLASS SLIPPER for each of the five councilors - Abernethy, Johnson, Peter Gramlich, Jodie Barram and Jim Clinton - who had the guts to vote for the Peace Bridge designation. And if the new council wants to make Bend's infrastructure fair and balanced by designating a War Bridge somewhere in town, go for it.

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