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Forum, June 22: Failure to forecast how weather vane could be offensive

Published: 6/21/2020 10:00:15 PM
Modified: 6/21/2020 10:00:10 PM
Failure to forecast how weather vane could be offensive

What is truly offensive about this whole weather vane matter is that the Dartmouth College board of trustees, administration officials and Native American studies professors didn’t know which way the wind was blowing when the vane was removed several years ago as part of the Baker Library tower restoration (“College to remove weather vane,” June 16).

Surely there most have been somebody in this pool of well-educated people who could have pointed out the potential for the subject matter to offend, especially given the years of controversy over campus symbols.

So now, precious funds have to be spent again to get the vane down “immediately”; then more has to be spent to have a new one hoisted into place at a much later date, after a committee is formed to endlessly debate over and see to the manufacture of a replacement.

Since Dartmouth is bleeding cash right now as the result of the pandemic, I think it only fair that the cost of this weather vane re-do be personally borne by those in positions of authority who didn’t seize the opportunity to set things right in the first place.

JIM LUSTENADER

Hanover

Looking at history through new lens

In his recent Forum letter about the Baker Library weather vane, Walter Gobin wrote, “those who want this removed are looking for an excuse to remove history from our country” (“Weather vane is not racist,” June 17).

Perhaps he has slightly overstated the situation.

A weather vane, albeit perhaps beloved by some, may be removed without the entire country being harmed in any way that I can think of. I am not willing to extrapolate this proposed action by Dartmouth College to a national issue.

I am not Native American. Students and others who are have requested that Dartmouth consider their feelings and interpretations of the scene depicted as being unpleasant, disturbing or hurtful.

The weather vane is described as showing two cultures coming together, but why should we presume that this interpretation should override the opinion of those who are depicted in the scene? Must white society always win the argument?

Perhaps our interpretation of this scene has rankled generations of Native Americans and others, but there was no forum for their opinions to be heard. Patrimony has overridden many elements of our culture for hundreds of years. Progress would be better demonstrated by saying, as the college has chosen to do, that we were wrong and you are right. History must be placed in a context.

Iconography is a funny thing. Some see the sharing of a peace pipe, some see the unfulfilled promise to educate Native Americans until Dartmouth President John Kemeny began to fulfill that promise. Some see the Confederate flag as representing “the Old South” while others see profound oppression. We all see what we want to see.

However, that does not assure that what we see is true, or not hurtful, or even accurate. We must listen to those who truly own the history.

I am not Native American, but I completely understand and support revisiting iconography and making up for past, unwise, points of view. That is the glory of the hindsight of history.

We are not erasing history. We are looking at it through new lenses.

KAREN BLUM

Grantham

Save the soul of America

Thanks to Alan Tanenbaum for listing the many possible ways of improving the lives of Black people (“America irreparably divided,” June 11). Even though the issues are enormous, we must never stop trying if America is going to be great.

My reply is, President Donald Trump was given a chance and blew it — on racism, on the coronavirus response, on uniting the country. Trump claims credit for the rising economy, which he inherited from the Obama-Biden administration. Trump is the bankruptcy president whose God is money.

Let’s give former Vice President Joe Biden a chance. I know him and I know he is a kind, caring, compassionate, selfless man, a normal, moral, true Christian candidate with experience. Trump plays to his base and insults everyone else. As former Secretary of Defense James Mattis said, unlike any other president, Trump does nothing to unite the country.

Biden’s mission is to unite the country, to save the soul of America. Let’s get out and vote for Joe.

SALLY PRINCE

New London

Defunding police is not the answer

So, cutting police budgets or, worse yet, closing down police departments, is the answer to racism? That’s madness. Recent events revealed the razor-thin line between lawfulness and lawlessness. I fear that, without police, our country would be looted and burned beyond repair.

JEFF LEHMANN

Lyme Center




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