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Forum, June 25: Lebanon police are terrific

Published: 6/24/2020 10:00:14 PM
Modified: 6/24/2020 10:00:10 PM
Lebanon police are terrific

After reading the Forum in the Valley News, I feel the need to write a small note. I am an “older person” — in my 80s, if you want to know, and so have seen a whole lot. I have family members on both sides who got out of Nazi Germany before I was born, but I certainly grew up knowing that some people don’t like others. Even so, I am happy I was raised to be “color-blind” and accepting, whatever your color or nationality.

That all being said, I have lived in Lebanon for 60 years and it is important to me to know that any dealings I have had with Lebanon police have always been terrific and never, never once did I think they were or are nice to me or my family because we are white. I see “Coffee with a Cop” and “Stuff a Truck” events. I see them unlock a door, help someone up a curb or across the street, get to a house before the ambulance, and lots of other stuff. Does anyone remember the advice, “Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater”?

Please, everyone, don’t equate every police officer with a certain bad few here and there somewhere in the country. Sadly, there are some, but we are so lucky here. Thank you.



A privileged line of thinking

It is clear from the Forum letters supporting Windsor School Principal Tiffany Riley that there are a lot of people who don’t understand why the Mount Ascutney School Board moved to oust her. No, the board is not violating her free speech rights, and it is not an attack from the left for her lack of political correctness. Her post on Facebook went much deeper.

What she did was make a public statement that she feels forced to care more about Black lives than is necessary. She goes on to make the false equivalence that — while we witness the horrific, recorded death of one Black person after another at the hands of the police — we should care equally about the police.

Why is this a terrible thing for the principal of a rural Vermont school to say? It means that, as an educator, she cannot contextualize the suffering or the immediate need for change. If she is going to guide a school staff in teaching students about the legacy of economic racism, then these teachable moments — and the past 50 years, not to mention the 400-year history of racist America — may not be of the highest priority in her school.

In my opinion, this is why the School Board lost confidence in her. I applaud the board for its critique of what her words meant for the students of their school.

Tiffany Riley conveyed a solidly white and privileged line of thinking that is obviously shared by a lot of people, probably many more than those who chose to write to the Valley News. When we recognize how racism and militarized law enforcement are intertwined, then we can say: When Black lives really do matter, then all lives matter. Unfortunately, Black lives still don’t matter, and that is profoundly sad.



Public work, private views

Time after time, people who serve the public post their political thoughts and views on social media. They are firefighters, teachers, town board members, police officers and school principals. These views are open to misinterpretation. Because of this, they often lose their jobs. Yet the lesson is not learned and the posts keep on coming.

If you work in a public capacity, you need to keep your political views private. That’s just the way it is.



The nation is now awake

Confederate statues, symbols and place names of people who supported slavery are being removed all over this country, as they should be, because we as a nation are now awake to the fact that this residue of the Civil War and slavery continues to glorify human bondage.

Human beings were kidnapped, brought here in chains and sold as slaves to the highest bidder. As time went on, rational, insightful Americans came to see that slavery was 100% wrong. Thousands died during the Civil War to end slavery. The South lost that war and Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 freed all slaves. Intelligent people moved on from here.

Should you need medical care, chances are an African American doctor, nurse, nursing aide, therapist, nutritionist, etc., will care for you. Dr. Charles Drew, an African American doctor, developed ways to store blood plasma for transfusion and saved thousands and thousands of lives during World War II and beyond.

Our blended, 21st century world is a good thing because different people think differently. This gives all fields of knowledge more options. Don’t be frightened by change, even though it’s one of the most difficult things for us humans to do.

However, there is a sequence for changing behavior: First, a significant event occurs, (such as the killing of George Floyd and others and murder charges brought against police). This changes attitudes, (the killing of Black people by anyone, especially those in power, is wrong and repulsive). This changes behavior because police accountability for all killings will now be demanded.

So, instead of hating people because of the color of their skin, pick up a book about slavery and think, “What if I had been born with dark skin and made a slave?” Roots, by Alex Haley, is a page-turner. Or watch the movie 12 Years A Slave.

Finally, realize that history shows we all migrated out of Africa thousands of years ago. Try to understand your humanity and that of others. In doing so, you will become a better person with a more enriching life.



Weathersfield is behind the times on MLK Day

I want the Weathersfield Selectboard to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a town holiday. In January, the Selectboard voted unanimously not to.

At the time it worried me that Weathersfield would be so far behind the times and our leaders would vote that way. But, as chair of the School Board, I had troubles of my own in January, hosting a budget discussion and community potluck and working on the School District’s budget. So I wasn’t at the Selectboard meeting to argue in favor of the holiday.

But, like most of us, I was moved recently by the killing of George Floyd and the violent protests that followed. I called the chair of the Selectboard to ask if the board would reconsider its January vote. The chair did not commit to such a course, so I wrote to our town manager to ask him to press the Selectboard to reconsider. That resulted in the matter being put on the agenda for the June 15 Selectboard meeting.

I am shocked and disturbed at what happened next: The Selectboard refused to reconsider its vote but “might” consider honoring the holiday “in the next budget season.” The board then voted to “move on” from the discussion.

I told them that was not good enough, and now I want to tell all of your readers, especially those in Weathersfield, that “moving on” from the question of observing the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday is not good enough.

King was our country’s greatest leader for civil rights and racial equality, and our greatest leader for nonviolence. That’s what I was thinking about when I saw the pictures of the Minneapolis police station burning — that this violence and hatred is not good enough, that there is a better way, and that King was the one, above all, who showed us that better way.

Our town should honor the federal holiday that turns the nation’s attention toward equality, justice and peace. We should honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I beg the Weathersfield Selectboard to get on the right side of history.



An imperfect understanding of ‘a more perfect union’

In regard to Tony Jacobin’s Forum letter (“We must understand history,” June 18): The Constitution’s reference to creating a “more perfect union” has nothing to do with moral aspiration or ethical character.

The U.S. polity was originally organized (1781-1789) under the Articles of Confederation (which had nothing to do with the Confederate States’ rebellion). The Articles of Confederation were essentially a cooperation agreement among the states. That agreement didn’t work well because the Articles didn’t have sufficient enforcement glue to make it all stick together. States could kind of “freelance” if they didn’t like the consensus position.

So the Constitutional Convention was to create a more durable compact among the states. And, in the Preamble, this intention was “in order to create a more perfect union.”

“More perfect” meant more complete. “Union” meant unification. Thus, the objective “to create a more perfect union” meant to create a more complete unification. Nothing about becoming a better society; it’s about becoming a more unified country.

Politicians find the “more perfect union” phrase irresistible. It makes their favorite projects sound like the handiwork of angels. But it’s all an anti-historical ruse. So the next time you hear someone invoke that phrase, suggest a review of eighth grade civics.



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