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Forum, March 1: Better to deal with ‘divisive topics’ openly, honestly

Published: 2/28/2021 10:00:06 PM
Modified: 2/28/2021 10:00:05 PM
Better to deal with ‘divisive topics’ openly, honestly

I was more than a little startled by the headline “NH bill would bar teaching ‘divisive topics’ ” (Feb. 20). The New Hampshire Legislature would sweep issues of racism and sexism under the rug rather than bring them into the light of day.

Yes, our country is deeply divided. This year began with insurrectionists proudly displaying Confederate flags and pro-Nazi symbols in our nation’s capitol. A con artist divided the nation over the false claims that he won an election he actually lost by more than 7 million votes while seeking to disenfranchise millions of Black voters. If anyone doubts that there is systematic racism in this country, think for a moment how Donald Trump would have responded to a mostly Black crowd trying to break into the Capitol. In these troubled times, however, the New Hampshire Legislature is trying to prohibit such discussions, ignoring the persistence of racial discrimination in Northern New England.

We just concluded the presidency of a man who frequently boasted about his predatory behavior toward women. The New Hampshire Legislature overlooks its own record on this subject, ignoring the recent history of legislators operating pornography websites or announcing their right to grab nursing women’s breasts if they nurse in public. Perhaps if our schools had addressed these issues more effectively when members of the Legislature were students we would not have to be dealing with these issues well into the 21st century.

What our lawmakers should be encouraging is the development of teacher education so that teachers can effectively address these issues in the classroom. Teachers should be helped to develop the skills to encourage students’ understanding of the complexity and deep roots of these problems, while encouraging critical engagement and respect for other students’ points of view.

Our schools should not be prevented from discussing controversial subjects but encouraged to deal with them openly, honestly and creatively and to develop better ways to create an informed and engaged citizenry.

ROBERT M. BAUM

Norwich

NH bill would limit open discourse

Let’s call HB 544 exactly what it is: the legislated preservation of white, male power and privilege (“NH bill would bar teaching ‘divisive topics,’ ” Feb. 20).

Rep. Keith Ammon, who introduced the bill, said it “puts guidelines on what are the limits ... in presuming that someone was born to be an oppressor or someone was born to be oppressed because of their sex.” If we make that assumption as a society, he said, “then we are never going to get to unity.” Certainly, muzzling educators, students and state contractors would help get New Hampshire to Rep. Ammon’s “unity,” where all citizens accept their place without question and never envision or work toward a more equitable society.

If you believe, as I do, that New Hampshire would benefit from free and open discourse on the topics of systemic racism and sexism, please contact your state representatives and urge them to vote against passage of this bill. We need education and change to achieve unity, not silence and adherence to the status quo.

KATHERINE FREELAND

Cornish

Karen Liot Hill offers experience

On March 9, Lebanon voters will have the opportunity to reelect Karen Liot Hill as our at-large member of the City Council. A committed Lebanon citizen, with deep roots in fiscal, environmental and energy-based sustainable practices, Liot Hill has that rare combination of independent thinking, supported by facts, and an openness to new ideas.

She served as chair of the Welcoming Lebanon Task Force, which had as its goal to ensure that all who live, work and pass through the city are treated with dignity and respect. We are long-time Upper Valley residents, but only recent residents of Lebanon, and this effort to advance justice and equality in our new city seems indicative of the kind of inclusivity and generosity that has been the hallmark of her deep community involvement.

More recently, her status as owner of the Lebanon Diner came to an end when, like many others, the business was forced to close due to the pandemic. She is no stranger to loss and the need to regroup. Her activities in many diverse community and statewide organizations, such as the Grafton County Economic Development Council, the city task force on homelessness and the Lebanon Middle School Parent/Teacher Organization, have helped to make her flexible and nimble.

She sits in no one’s camp. Her governmental and personal goals are one and the same: accessibility, accountability and transparency. We support and will vote for Karen Liot Hill, who will bring experience, thoughtfulness, hands-on education, and a deep sense of humanity to the role. We couldn’t ask for more.

JUDY and BOB McCARTHY

Lebanon

Alan Patterson is honest, dedicated

We encourage Lebanon residents to endorse Alan J. Patterson Sr. for Lebanon City Council.

We have known him for more than 20 years. He is an 18-year Navy veteran and a retired police offer. He is honest, caring and dedicated, not only to his family but to the city of Lebanon. We know firsthand that he feels a vast responsibility to the citizens of Lebanon and wants everything necessary to be available for all. At the same time, he is always aware of the issues surrounding Lebanon’s high property taxes and how difficult it is for many who live in Lebanon.

We are also aware of his vast knowledge of how the school district operates. He will bring a level of expertise to the City Council that will be beneficial in bridging that gap toward saving the city money and assist in some of the problems these two entities are raising.

Again, please consider Alan J. Patterson Sr. when you vote this year. Thank you.

DICK and SELMA SANBORN

Lebanon




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