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Forum, May 26: Respect the Power of Words


Tuesday, May 29, 2018
The Power of Words

Referring recently to illegal immigrants, the president said, “These aren’t people. These are animals.” Words matter. When the president referred to African countries using foul language earlier this year, the words mattered then, too. Every time he has chosen to disparage someone or a group of people, it matters. Using disparaging remarks to refer to others, as the president often does, is dehumanizing. Because words matter, I use that word “dehumanizing” intentionally.

Dehumanization is the process of demonizing “the other,” making them seem less than human, not worthy of humane treatment. It contributed to the atrocities committed by soldiers in Vietnam and was key to making the Holocaust possible.

If you aren’t outraged by the massacre of Palestinians and their ongoing plight, perhaps their dehumanization plays a role in that. If you aren’t outraged when African-Americans, LGBTQ people, Spanish-speaking New Yorkers, Muslims and others are disparaged, attacked, discriminated against and have their concerns about these matters repeatedly dismissed, perhaps their dehumanization is a factor.

The words used by our leaders matter. The words used in the media matter. The words we use matter.

All of the people being disparaged, discriminated against, attacked are not “animals” or “other” — they are human beings worthy of humane treatment and our human compassion. We cannot allow ourselves and our country to enter a process we’ve seen can have deadly consequences for some and soul-killing effects upon others.

Susan Ferraro

West Lebanon

Hard Analysis Required

I thank Chuck DeVries for his imaginative and satirical response to my May 15 letter, which, however, can in no way be taken to refute anything that I said (“The True ‘Chemtrails’ Conspiracy”, May 20). His implication that Google would not be a reliable source of truth is, unfortunately, a valid criticism. This point was made, both explicitly and circumspectly, by Rick Sheppe in the same edition (“The Search for Truth Is Problematic”). I also agree with Sheppe that critical thinking and evidence-based reasoning should be applied.

That is why I stressed the need for hard, analytical results, which should include sampling and analysis of air, water, soil and vegetation. As an adjunct to this we should ask Congress to find out what is being sprayed and why.

If, as I suspect, this information is being withheld for national security reasons, that in itself is highly problematic.

Lest people get the impression that chemtrails are nonsensical internet fiction, I recommend two books by researcher Elana Freeland, which are still available at Amazon: Chemtrails, HAARP, and the Full Spectrum Dominance of Planet Earth and Under an Ionized Sky.

Dan Leggett

Hanover

Precious Right to Vote

Cybersecurity is a serious threat to citizens’ right to vote. My right to vote is close to my most precious value, as guaranteed by our Founding Fathers and the Constitution. Having heard threats from the White House claiming fraud in the remarkably safe New Hampshire voting process, I challenge Secretary of State William Gardner’s accepting this. Is it true? Does it exist? Our secretary of state has fallen into this trap. This disturbs me and supercharges me in my “Women’s Walk for Action and Unity,” during which I was a participant with 5,000 other citizens, and counting. The pink hats worn by so many found others planet-wide supported and protected women’s rights.

It is the responsibility of families to address civic education of their young on the verge of voting. Save your time and money. Teach civics in all schools!

The big job was done in the early part of the 1900s, when women struggled to qualify for the right to vote. That’s when the hard work was done! The suffragists would have been appalled by accusing them now of fraud. Fraud is not New Hampshire’s problem. It is lazy or indifferent citizens who neglect what our Founding Fathers guaranteed for our future survival.

In my senior year at Peabody High School, in 1942, I was assigned as a volunteer to register people to vote. An African-American man I registered was named “Julius Caesar Coffee.” How could I forget that name? Peabody High School was a regional school of 3,000 students. It is now Obama Academy. Save your time and money: Go vote and teach your children about the guaranteed freedom to vote.

Ninety-five and still voting!

Linn Duvall Harwell

New London