Letters: Terrorism Index, Reduced Shakespeare Revisited

Listeners write in to discuss whether Americans are safer from terrorism today than they were in the days following Sept. 11, and an Oregon listener tries an unusual sign off. Plus: the bridge building of Bonnie Rait.

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LYNN NEARY, host:

It's Tuesday, the day we read from your e-mails.

Last Thursday, we talked about a feature in the current issue of Foreign Policy Magazine that they're calling the terrorism index. It's a survey of 100 experts on how they think the war on terrorism is going. And we asked the question, are we safer now?

Skip, a listener in Chesterland, Ohio, replied, “Of course we are safer. No action against us in this country since 9/11. This is a very dangerous world, with very dangerous individuals that only understand force. They're not inclined to want to sit down and talk. Those we are fighting have no idea what they want other than to proliferate violence. We can only confront that thinking with direct and forceful action.”

Another listener disagreed. This e-mail came from Linda in Vancouver, Washington. “I don't think anybody is any safer. Employing the military is a fine way to stave off the effects of having not worked toward peace, but as long as the disagreements, misunderstands, disdain, ignorance, and distrust remain, no one will ever be safe.”

We celebrated the Fourth of July holiday with a visit from the reduced Shakespeare Company, and their irreverent take on American history - reduced, of course. Several listeners were disappointed in the company's response to a caller's question about young girls who have made history.

Shane Esessler(ph) e-mailed from Little Rock, Arkansas, with her own suggestion. “I immediately thought of 10-year-old Samantha Smith,” she wrote, “whose 1982 letter to Soviet leader Yuri Andropov prompted mass media coverage in both countries and launched her role as a young ambassador. I don't know if this counts as making history, but it was certainly a significant story to me as a young girl.”

And if you were listening a little later in that segment, you might remember Neal Conan saying his usual good-bye to this caller.

NEAL CONAN, host:

Thanks very much for the call, Diane. And have a great 4th there in Pendleton, Oregon.

DIANE (Caller): (Unintelligible).

CONAN: All right. What?

NEARY: We couldn't understand what she said before hanging up. Neal thought it might be a sports reference. But several of you did, including Leonard Cogan(ph), another listener in Oregon. Diane signed off by saying, let ‘er buck. He explained:

“This is not a reference to a local sports team, as you posited. It's the motto of the world famous Pendleton Roundup.”

Well, we did some digging and it turns out the phrase let ‘er buck is not only a motto, it's a greeting, a goodbye, and a battle cry, too. As for the Pendleton Roundup, it's a huge, nationally known rodeo held in Pendleton, Oregon each year. It started back in 1909 and grew to include a parade, country music concerts, dances, art shows, and historical pageants in addition to the old-fashioned rodeo. If you're interested, this year's roundup kicks off September 13th and runs through the 16th. And finally, we saw a flurry of e-mails after Bonnie Raitt's performance last week on Studio 4A. Kathy Massey(ph) in North Carolina e-mailed to tell us Bonnie was quote, “Awesome. I'm a 30-something African-American female,” she wrote, “who listens to everything from big bang to DMX. My friends are, for some reason, in shock when they hear Bonnie come on in my car, and even more shocked when they hear me sing to it. Then they listen to words and that warm, earthy voice of hers, and they get little weird smile across their face, almost as if they're remembering something sweet. And they all say, wow, Bonnie is truly a bridge builder.”

If you have comments, questions, or corrections for us, the best way to reach us is by e-mail. Our address is talk@npr.org. Please let us know where you're writing from, and give us some help on how to pronounce your name.

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