Lyons answers his critics

  It's difficult to respond to such off-issue, personal attacks and the chest-thumpings of Idaho nationalism as Peterson's (HCN, 5/25/98) and Medberry's (HCN, 4/13/98) - weak and flaccid as they are, full of red herrings and other beneath-the-belt cow droppings - but my point remains: Idaho doesn't work for the poor, for persons of color, or really for the average citizen, who should expect more from his or her political leaders. In fact, the state is so far removed from reality that it may have actually seceded from the union. Tim Egan's New York Times article of April 16, which quotes from my essay, elaborates brilliantly on these points, and I've also received many letters and words of support - some from third-generation Idahoans, saying I didn't go far enough. Maybe I should have mentioned that Idaho leads the nation in rate of suicide, or that Helen Chenoweth just announced that Oliver North will appear at a Boise fund raiser on her behalf. I also failed to mention a University of Idaho study that surveyed more than 400 retirees that moved to Idaho in 1992-93. Twenty-five percent of those listed "racial/ethnic composition" as a reason for moving to Idaho. They were fleeing diversity and they chose Idaho. And then there's the 11.4 acres of roadless area that has been lost every hour for the past decade, ensuring the death of another form of diversity.

Even at the risk of upsetting the denialists, I will continue to report and write about Idaho as I have for almost 15 years, whether it's about welfare families in Bonners Ferry, toxic spills in the Little Salmon River, or (this is for Peterson) the shameful history of Idaho's Minidoka Relocation Camp for Japanese-Americans during WWII. Peterson can read those articles on Minidoka, but he will have to travel to California, where my work is on permanent file at the new Japanese-American museum in Los Angeles.

Stephen J. Lyons Outside of Idaho,

Somewhere in America, Land of the Free,

Home of the Brave

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