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Forum, Feb. 19: Editorial cartoon was inappropriate and cruel

Published: 2/18/2021 10:00:15 PM
Modified: 2/18/2021 10:00:12 PM
Editorial cartoon was inappropriate and cruel

I have rarely commented on editorial cartoons, figuring the cartoonist is allowed license to express creative ideas. However, I must say I was appalled at the totally inappropriate, even cruel, taste of the Jeff Danziger cartoon about QAnon and Dan Quayle (“Pen & Ink,” Feb. 14).

Dan Quayle was a senator from Indiana, and later the vice president of the United States, while I was teaching there. I am not a Republican and I never voted for him for any office, nor supported most of his policies. But never did I ever find reason to associate him with highly questionable, heinous, dark and dangerous conspiracy theories as represented by QAnon and as clearly suggested in this cartoon. In fact, as far as I know, he has been singularly out of the spotlight until I was surprised to see him with the dignitaries on the platform at President Joe Biden’s inauguration. Upon reflection, I saw his presence as a thoughtful representative of the George H.W. Bush presidency in the absence of the late president. A gentle Republican gesture in the markedly petulant absence of Donald Trump.

QAnon is an abundant source of the most vitriolic, violent and bizarre conspiracy theories influencing many white supremacist and nationalistic groups and, therefore, under much present-day speculation as to its origin and maintenance. If the cartoonist has some relevant information about Quayle’s involvement, then it should be reported to interested and grateful authorities. If this relationship is all part of his creative fantasies, then he owes Dan Quayle a sincere and immediate apology. This humor is deeply cutting.

However, perhaps a more serious criticism must be leveled at the Valley News for choosing to print this cartoon in the first place. It was cruel and inappropriate, even potentially dangerous, and below the dignity usually shown by this newspaper. It may be the cartoonist’s opinion, but it was clearly the paper’s choice to make it publicly circulated in the Upper Valley.

PEET PEARSON

Vershire

$1.9 trillion stimulus package is too big

I am not a fan of Larry Summers, the American economist who served as vice president of development economics and chief economist of the World Bank, as a senior Treasury Department official throughout President Bill Clinton’s administration, and as director of the National Economic Council for President Barack Obama. Despite that impressive resume, he is little more than a defender of income inequality, a characteristic most noticeable during the Great Recession of 2009, when he was part of the crew that bailed out banks and General Motors with no consequences for those who created the crisis.

However, he recently wrote a thoughtful piece for The Washington Post that rings true. The $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package is simply too large and, more important, it will have two undesirable consequences: It will overstimulate the economy and will lead to higher inflation and interest rates, and it will deprive Congress of the wherewithal to enact future progressive legislation, like an infrastructure program.

You can already get hints of a rise in inflation by looking at the long-term (30-year) Treasury rates. They just rose above 2% and there are increases in the price of commodities like oil.

Without suitable changes in tax law that address income inequality, the huge amount of government spending during the course of the pandemic makes it clear where this will all end. The unfortunate truth is that meaningful changes to the tax laws stand zero chance of getting through a divided Congress.

The stimulus packages are not needed to revive the economy since there is plenty of pent-up demand. The stimulus is needed to get us through the pandemic and to assist those who have suffered most economically from its impact.

DAVID RUSSELL

Perkinsville

Bill a giveaway to rich

Don’t be fooled by New Hampshire’s “school choice” bill. HB 20 is written so as to give our tax dollars to wealthy families and to religious schools under the pretense of creating mislabeled “education freedom accounts.”

First, HB 20 would be a giveaway to the wealthy. According to Private School Review, the current average private school tuition for the 62 New Hampshire private schools is approximately $19,400 per year. The $4,600 education subsidy that would be created by HB 20 would leave about $15,000 for a family to pay — well within the ability of a wealthy family, but not a middle-class or poor family. So, while the bill hands thousands of our tax dollars to families who already are financially well-off, it barely helps others who want to send their children to private schools, too.

Second, HB 20 would disproportionately benefit religious schools. Of the 25 private schools with the lowest tuition in New Hampshire, 80% are religious schools, with an average tuition of $4,760 per year — coincidentally, about the amount of the subsidy proposed by the “education freedom” bill.

Consequently, most parents who want to send their children to a private school can do so, but HB 20 gives them a selection of primarily religious schools, where their children would receive faith-based training they may not endorse or may even oppose. That appears to violate freedom of choice and the separation of church and state.

Tell your representatives to oppose HB 20 because it is a giveaway to the wealthy and it uses taxpayer money to promote religious beliefs.

JACK HURLEY

Claremont

We trust Sharon Harkay

We are writing in appreciation of Sharon Harkay’s excellent service as a member of the Thetford Selectboard, and to ask voters to make it possible for that service to continue.

Harkay, with whom we have discussed local matters on numerous occasions, is an exceptionally good listener with an open mind who carefully considers all sides of all issues. She is very judicial in the sense that she always attempts to be impartial before each issue is fully aired, patient in reaching her decisions on how she should vote, and clear in explaining her reasons.

Being a good representative, we think, requires a certain humility, a willingness to know that your own position, however strongly it may be felt, is but one among many, and that the thoughts of others should always be heard and are always helpful. Because she has this humility, and those judicial virtues we mentioned, we have learned over and over again that her judgment is to be trusted.

We ask that you make it possible for Sharon Harkay’s work for all of us to continue by voting for her, as we will be doing with great pleasure and confidence.

LANEY and JACK SAMMONS

Thetford Center

Kate Plumley Stewart for Enfield Selectboard

Being a Selectboard member in a small New England town is so much more than understanding numbers. It is vision, it is knowing your neighbors and caring about them. It is empathy. It is putting in the time to build community and enthusiastically take on new ideas.

We in Enfield are fortunate to have just such a person running for reelection to the Selectboard. Kate Plumley Stewart grew up in Enfield, attended Mascoma schools, and as an adult came back to raise her family and run her small farming business. She is a steward of the land.

Being a Selectboard member requires many skills. Fiscal responsibility is just one that Stewart brings to the table. She sees potential while respecting our small-town way of life. During the last three years, she has an active participant in various town planning efforts. She is open to new, more efficient ways of doing things while a staunch supporter of our institutions. She is active in our schools, supportive of our numerous recreational opportunities, our cultural heritage and our citizens. She was a founding member of the Friends of Mascoma Foundation, which delivers high-quality food and support to those in need and is the current vice president. She sees things that need to be done and takes necessary actions to see that they get done. She is vested in most aspects of town life and has a unique skill set that is applicable to being a successful board member.

I believe that Enfield needs Stewart’s insight, and we certainly need her energy. She represents the best of our area — its past, its present and its future. I am supporting Kate Plumley Stewart in the upcoming election, and I am asking that you join me.

NANCY L. SMITH

Enfield

Dan Fraser a positive presence on board

I am writing in support of Dan Fraser’s Hartford Selectboard reelection campaign.

I have known him for more than 25 years, first when he worked with students with disabilities while I was special education director for the Hartford School District. He cared deeply about the students and worked diligently at carrying out his professional responsibilities.

Subsequently, his leadership role at Dan & Whit’s has been remarkable. Because of his initiative, Dan & Whit’s reaches out even more to engage the broader Upper Valley community and supports a broad range of nonprofit organizations with innovative and successful fundraising activities. He has helped make our Upper Valley community more aware, more compassionate and stronger.

On the Hartford Selectboard, he is a thoughtful speaker and excellent listener. He attends to all sides of issues with respect and attention. He is an advocate for those who struggle, whether due to economic hardship, disability, discrimination or other challenging life circumstances. He demonstrates an understanding of the rich diversity within the Hartford communities and seeks to value and represent them all.

Dan Fraser’s presence on the Selectboard has been positive and forward-looking during turbulent times. I will vote for him and hope you will, too.

JO-ANNE UNRUH

Hartford

Why is UNH protecting a hateful imposter?

I was disappointed, but not surprised, to read the headline about a University of New Hampshire professor’s vitriolic tweets (“Professor quits after posing as woman of color,” Feb. 13). A far more accurate headline would have been: “UNH continues to protect hateful imposter.”

It took four months of a private, internal investigation to result in essentially zero consequences for this man. He wasn’t fired and his unnamed presence allows him to seek future employment as a respected academic. What mark on his record will be visible to future employers? Absolutely none.

UNH President James Dean Jr. should be ashamed of claiming to “protect the privacy of all involved.” A man who hides behind a fake identity in order to spread lies and sexist, racist rhetoric should not be protected by his employer’s embarrassment.

By trying to save face, UNH has lost my trust and respect.

COURTNEY DRAGIFF

Norwich

Learning Trump’s lessons in tyranny

Donald Trump is gone but not forgotten. Nor should he be — he taught us all how tyranny works, how it has always worked and how it will work again if we enable it.

With a destructive demonstration, Trump proved he’s a specialist in tyranny. He shares that distinction with other experts, one named Timothy Snyder. The difference is that Snyder is a respected professor at Yale University who warns us away from tyranny while Trump is the unhappy boy-man who reveres the clenched-fist and camouflage mobacracy and who tried to drag America into it, kicking and screaming, with some cheering.

One of Snyder’s most respected books is On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons From The Twentieth Century. He writes, “Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. ... Plato believed that demagogues exploited free speech to install themselves as tyrants.”

Bells ringing?

I think of Trump as a lumbering old tanker truck spewing liquified manure over a barren field, except he’s not fertilizing for healthy growth. He’s feeding grotesque conspiracy theorists like Marjorie Taylor Greene, who just got slapped down in the U.S. House.

Greene was one sign that Trump is not forgotten. Ignorance feeds on itself, and these days and there’s lots to snarf down in the trough. Snyder continues: “Be calm when the unthinkable arrives. Modern tyranny is terror management. When the terrorist attack comes, remember that authoritarians exploit such events in order to consolidate power. The sudden disaster that requires the end of checks and balances, the suspension of freedom of expression, the right to a fair trial and so on, is the oldest trick in the Hitlerian book. Do not fall for it.”

Bells ringing again? These recent lessons from the inciter in chief convince me that On Tyranny is a book of truth. Truth likes light, and tyranny loves the darkness.

ROBERT ROUDEBUSH

North Haverhill




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