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Opinion: Polluters and freedom fighters

March 23, 2022 at 5:00 a.m.

Let's check the results of my Polluter of the Year quest. We have plenty of polluters in our state and the nominees were many. However, I realize naming one as the top polluter depends a lot on where you live, and almost all the nominees had only one vote.

Waste Management Eco Vista in Tontitown leads with four votes, but since all the rest have just one, it wouldn't be fair to focus on one polluter. So we won't have a polluter of the year, but a list of those who readers believe are contributing to the state's pollution problems.

This is the list:

Union County, wastewater polluting a stream (company not named). Waste Management Eco Vista. Beer drinkers (tossing cans or bottles). Citizens who trash the Two Rivers Bridge area. The bottled water industry. Consumers who buy much more than they need. Open burning. Residents of Little Rock who litter and those who ignore it. Becky Keogh of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Independence Power Plant's smokestack. Litterbugs. The State Plant Board. El Dorado Chemical.

Thanks to all who submitted nominations. Let's hope it makes a difference.


I am a Ukrainian, even though I was born in El Dorado. It seems that there is a spiritual connection, which is more important than where you happen to be brought into this world. The spirit of freedom, which the Ukrainians are showing, is universal, and those of us who identify with the David and Goliath struggle the Ukrainians are involved in makes us brothers and sisters.

Recently, as the refugees streamed out of Ukraine, one of the news cameras focused on a young woman and her son. The woman, whose blonde hair was whipping in the cold wind, along with her fair complexion and dress, could have easily passed for an American in Chicago, and her youngster, probably 5 or 6 years old, clutching a rubber or plastic dinosaur, looked about as American as I do. Her husband stayed in Ukraine to fight the invading Russians.

It's not dress or hair or skin color which makes a person Ukrainian. As the president of Ukraine responded when offered an escape from the country: "I need ammunition, not a ride."

Those few words resounded around the world. We unite under not only the Ukrainian flag, but as those who fought and died at the Alamo, then rose up at San Jacinto to repel and destroy the dictator who mistakenly thought killing more people would allow him to suppress the Texans.

As we know from history, the will and resolve to have freedom always wins, and as the dictator found out at the Alamo, their San Jacinto will arrive when they least expect it, and freedom will triumph.

The Ukraine fighters may lose a battle or die as Russian missiles strike a hospital and kill innocent children, but one day the Russians will find out that when you kill one freedom fighter, two will rise up and take their place, and when an Alamo is looming on the horizon, there are those who have the resolve to repel forces who would take that freedom away from them. When the contest is between the free and the enslaved, freedom always prevails.

It seems the Russians have underestimated the determination that the Ukrainian people have, and were surprised that the outnumbered fighters are putting up such a struggle. The taste of freedom the Ukrainian people have had since 1991 is enough for the country to fight a huge invading army with an overpowering air force and a vast stockpile of missiles.

Obviously the Russian generals who told President Putin the Ukrainians would quickly surrender underestimated the price the Ukrainians would pay to remain free. But a country bigger than the state of Texas with people willing to fight an initially larger army is going to win.

As we watch and wonder what can be done to help the Ukrainians, we must be patient and daily tighten the screws on Russia. It seems that when the neutral Swiss joined in sanctions against Russia, the writing was on the wall. The array of freedom-loving peoples around the world says another Hitler or Putin will not be accepted. What we see today is a new world order, and if one country invades an innocent country, the free countries of the world will stand together and reverse that invasion. One day our grandchildren will look back and note how freedom triumphed.

It seems that the Russians -- expecting that, after a quick four- or five-day foray into Ukraine, that the Ukrainian fighters would throw down their weapons -- are going to try to terrorize the population by bombing civilian targets. That strategy is doomed to failure, and what the Russians are doing now is creating a resolve that will guarantee their defeat.

CNN reported in 2011 that three American researchers revealed an eye-opening finding derived from data on the U.S. bombing campaign during the Vietnam War: The more bombs that were dropped on South Vietnamese hamlets in 1969, the likelier the Viet Cong insurgents were to end up controlling the territory afterward. As Cornell University professor Thomas Pepinsky noted: "Killing civilians is unjust, but our research shows that it is also bad strategy."

History tells us that sooner or later the people of invaded provinces will do exactly what the East Germans did: They united with the West Germans. In Ukraine it's only a matter of time until the entire country will be free.

Richard Mason is an author and speaker. He can be reached at [email protected].

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