Forum, Jan. 4: President Joe Biden’s courageous, ambitious steps

Published: 1/3/2022 10:00:47 PM
Modified: 1/3/2022 10:00:07 PM
President Joe Biden’s courageous, ambitious steps

Forum contributor Neil Meliment laments that President Joe Biden is, in his words, “a wrecking ball” (“President Biden’s controlled demolition of America,” Dec. 30). My take is a little different.

Since President Biden took office less than a year ago, the unemployment rate has gone from 9.3% to 4.2%. His child tax credit has helped reduce the child poverty rate in this country by 25%.

He took the courageous step of removing our military from an utterly unwinnable quagmire in Afghanistan, which all three of his predecessors had simply kicked down the road after having spent trillions of taxpayer dollars, costing the lives of tens of thousands of Afghan men, women and children, and the deaths of thousands of American troops.

We have rejoined the international community in a global effort to address and mitigate climate change before its too late.

Unlike his predecessor, he has appointed judges to the federal bench who are far more reflective of the United States as a whole, over half of whom are women and over half of whom are people of color.

If enacted, his Build Back Better initiative, the most ambitious piece of domestic legislation since the New Deal would, among other things, propel the country toward a far more environmentally sustainable future while, at the same time, reducing medical insurance premiums and prescription drug costs, and providing free universal preschool.

And, for almost a year now, we have been spared daily rants from the official presidential Twitter feed in which insults, rather than governance, were the order of the day.

If this is a “wrecking ball,” I’m all for it.



Language helps feed apathy toward animal suffering

Language often exposes our true attitudes toward those whom we exploit — our sense of superiority, entitlement, lack of compassion — our groomed apathy for animal suffering.

The Valley News feeds this apathy by referring to sentient beings as “it” and “that,” including Sebastian the pig (Dec. 27). “It” and “that” are pronouns for things, objects and ideas. Using them diminishes and belittles the other — denies the fact that animals have emotions, intelligence, friends and families, and can suffer, because those pronouns categorize them as inanimate and intangible. Try replacing “She” with “It” in this sentence: “She graduated from college.” The feeling, thinking person no longer exists.

We use the language of things to reference animals, whom we control and harm. We objectify them to commodify them and to destroy them without guilt for palate pleasure, shoes, leather car seats, crayons, dryer sheets, entertainment. Sebastian — a sentient being — is a he/him/who/whom, and when we use those pronouns consciously, our attitudes toward animals change. We become less able to forcibly impregnate, kidnap, kill, eat or test on animals — beings who want full lives, unharmed, as do we. We are more likely to feel compassion and responsibility toward a “she” and a “he” rather than an “it” — toward an intelligent, feeling somebody who doesn’t want to be hurt by us.

A related point: Using the word “owner” denotes animals as property — a reference to the degrading and violent master-slave arrangement, which is an opening for mistreatment. There are linguistic ways around subtexts of control and violence, ones that promote respect for creatures. Instead of “Sebastian’s owners,” write “Sebastian’s humans.”

Worldwide, animals are being granted personhood — rivers and wild rice, too. Animals’ purposes are not to be numbers in feed lots, suffer for our amusement, and for Big Ag’s and farmers’ profits.

I believe animals are people and do not deserve to be disappeared and disallowed by language so we can abuse them. Dignifying animals requires changing the words we use to reference them and their relationships with us.



The party of weakness

The Republican Party exhibits all the traits of a weak and immoral political sect or cult. Political sects and cults worldwide, which cannot fairly win elections, typically resort to authoritarianism. They all share two major characteristics: power at any cost and fear of free and fair elections. The Republican Party, in my opinion, is weak and corrupt to the core.

Republican “red states” are creating laws they expect the rest of us to obey while they themselves violate our Constitution, current laws, encourage violent white supremacism and race-baiting. I believe they have abandoned all basic human decency and have been prepping us for their immoral onslaught since they started “investigating” voter fraud that never existed in the first place.

What is the Republican solution to nonexistent voter fraud? Unprecedented and unconstitutional restricted access to voting.

In my opinion, Donald J. Trump was the worst president in American history and enjoyed inflicting pain and misery. Yet, within the world of evangelicalism, he is considered to have been “sent by God.” Trump squandered his family inheritance. After multiple bankruptcies, he sought dark financing from questionable foreign sources. When president, he violated his oath of office and is guilty of unparalleled tyranny against his country and the American people. Trump, his loyal supporters and the Republican Party are the real enemies of the people, not the free press. The free press did not attack our nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6.

To those of you who value American democracy, the Constitution, common decency, freedom from injustice, have respect for our laws, believe in accountability, the separation of church and state, etc., now is the time to stand up against the Republican Party. Our democracy was not designed to be run by religious zealots. However, Republicans are pressing ahead with their extremist ideology.

When I compare the rise of Nazism in the 1930s to the activities of the Republican Party and its base today, I see absolutely no difference.



Capitol attack an epiphany

Jan. 6 has gone down in our country’s history as the day the Capitol was attacked. The Christian church has long celebrated this as the day the Wise Men arrived to visit the newborn Jesus. It is called Epiphany and means a revelation, as the Wise Men saw a “star” that guided them.

The attack on the Capitol, and the Confederate flag in the building, was an epiphany for many.

This was the second attempt to get that flag into the Capitol. The first attempt was during the Civil War, when Confederate forces approached Washington, but were turned back. That flag proves to me that while we succeeded militarily, we failed politically to defeat the idea of racism and its justification for slavery and hatred. We have failed to remove it from acceptance in our national life. We failed by cutting Reconstruction short and allowing Jim Crow for decades. The public pronouncement of white supremacy at Charlottesville, Va., and many other acts prove this to me. Is the cascade of new voting laws one of these acts? I believe it is.

In life and politics, compromise is usually a way to progress, but there can be no compromise between conflicting ideas. Either you believe in the Declaration of Independence — “all men (people) are created equal” — or racism.



Empathy is not justice

Forum contributor Nick Fabrikant made a well-argued case (“Be empathetic to others,” Dec. 29), but the headline doesn’t fit. While he applauds “both those who get or refuse a vaccine,” he “must redirect your attention from science to your conscience.” Science seeks the truth; one’s conscience is biased. The virus is a lethal weapon, and those who infect others abet a killer. That’s empathy?

My last letter invoked Article 4, Section 4 of our Constitution. From that I derived what I think are appropriate actions needed to save our democracy. Now, by virtue of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, all those who had a hand in the “MAGA Melee” of Jan. 6 (and taken an oath of office), must forever be barred from office.

That would take care of many obstructionists working government jobs, but what of traitors using the ballot box to sponsor their dirty work? Given attrition rates of the two parties, vis-a-vis COVID-19, it seems we would eventually own the other side, but perhaps not soon enough. Should the American people rise and fight back for democracy, or meekly adopt the maxim “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”? Since this is politics, let’s strike a compromise.

I suggest we adapt the Texas abortion law framework, but like California’s gun law, we must fine-tune the action to promote justice and minimize repressive governance. My plan is simple: Reward any citizen who reports an unvaccinated individual violating social distancing or other measures to prevent spreading the virus. If found innocent, no harm, no reward. But if guilty, the violator’s sentence would be served in quarantine and the fine would pay court costs plus the value of the reward.

Though I deem the plan to be fitting and fair (in light of the GOP’s horrid agendas since Nixon and beyond), I can’t avoid the stench while stooping to their level. We are the better angels. So if Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema continue to unravel the progressive agenda, I see no choice other than reciprocating in kind. Empathy’s not justice.


White River Junction

How will we be remembered?

There are many things we’d love to leave our children and future generations, but of all those wonderful things, a healthy place for them to raise children of their own may be the most important. Unfortunately, today we’re still using fuels that pollute the air in our children’s lungs and the water in their cups. That is changing our climate and, with it, many things we and those we love will depend upon for the future.

So we should ask ourselves, “What do we want to work for and be remembered for?” We can leave our children and future generations a land where the air is clean and the water is safe. By increasing the use and production of the safe sources of sustainable energy we have now, like wind and solar, we can be proud of what we have created for generations to come and receive a happy surprise when we open our energy bills.

The choice is ours to make for a clean energy future. Let’s make it now.


West Newbury

A very good year for skiing

Cross-country skiing on both Oak Hill and Hanover’s former golf course this December has been a joy: miles of groomed skate tracks, classic tracks and a pedestrian path from the old clubhouse.

Highlights from skiing on my holiday vacation included running into old friends, watching Hanover’s Nordic team skillfully power up Oak Hill, and an amusing incident of a dog peeing on my ski pole near the sledding hill. I should have skied away but was laughing too hard.

The main reason my family stays in town for the holidays is to enjoy the skiing (and skating, when Occom Pond is open). This year’s snow was particularly good.

Thank you to Dartmouth College for all of the hard work on maintaining trails and for making them available to the community.



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