I was shocked to read about Long Beach Mayor Ernie Kell's interpretation of American democracy and patriotism, which he expressed at the close of the City Council meeting of Feb. 26 (The Times, Long Beach section, Feb. 28) when he told your reporter that a debate on the issue of banning nuclear weapons in the harbor is unnecessary because he and other members of the council feel the Navy has the right to bring such weapons into Long Beach waters.
He also stated that such matters are routinely handled during council meetings without public discussion. "I feel it is our patriotic duty to support our military," Kell added.
I understand that the military is supposed to be controlled by civilian authority and not vice versa. I also understand that the Navy doesn't want to home-port ships with nuclear weapons where they're not wanted. According to my understanding of American democracy, it is not only the right but the duty of citizens to express their opinions on what they consider vital public issues. They should not be told to "shut up."
I think it's time for the Long Beach City Council to study what Thomas Paine and our other founding fathers wrote on this subject and begin to put real democracy into practice.
Long Beach Gray Panthers