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Forum, Sept. 15: Thankful for those who helped make Vt. schools ready

Published: 9/14/2020 10:00:05 PM
Modified: 9/14/2020 10:00:01 PM
Thankful for those who helped make Vt. schools ready

For all the struggles that went into reopening schools this summer, nature did smile on Vermont’s teachers and learners last week as our kids returned to school: Conditions have been perfect for outdoor activity. Going in circles around my hay fields, I had a lot of time to think and feel a surge of thankfulness for the people who have made our schools ready.

Thank you, bus drivers. Thank you, nurses. Thank you, teachers. Thank you, paraeducators. Thank you, custodians. Thank you, network administrators. Thank you, cooks. Thank you, principals. Thank you, secretaries. Thank you, crossing guards. Thank you, financial managers. Thank you, superintendents. Thank you, PTA and volunteers. We are mindful of the extraordinary challenges you have faced, to support teaching and learning in 2020.

I’m also thankful and feel respect for the moms and dads and grandparents who have been keeping our children alert and healthy during this long time of schools being closed. Whether you put your kids on the bus or committed to teaching and learning at home, you have helped keep our communities strong, and have made sacrifices along the way.

And kids, I’m grateful to you too. You’re the reason why the adults are trying so hard. Your growth means the world to us. My own heart goes out to you most of all, for your resilience and joy. You’re teaching all of us, every day.

Thank you, everyone. Godspeed.

SEAN WHALEN

Weathersfield

The writer is chair of the Weathersfield School Board.

Jim Kenyon often tells hard truths

Why is everybody picking on Jim Kenyon? As often as not, he relays stories with compassion that none of us would have heard about. Occasionally he picks a scab that guilty folks find uncomfortable. Sen. John McCain is reported to have said it best: “The truth is sometimes a hard pill to swallow.”

JON APPLETON

White River Junction

Black Lives Matter and disinformation

I like to read letters by people whose opinions differ from mine, as I have long believed the saying “minds are like parachutes; they only function when open.” I have to say, however, that William A. Wittik’s recent Forum letter (“The devastation in Beirut — and in America,” Sept. 7), is misinformed about the Black Lives Matter movement.

According to the fact-checking site Snopes.com. Black Lives Matter has been subject to disinformation and conspiracy campaigns. I urge all those who are concerned or interested to read the entries about Black Lives Matter on this website to learn the details of the false and misleading stories about the movement.

The facts are these: Three Black women, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, created the #BlackLivesMatter project in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s killer in Florida. Commonly abbreviated “BLM,” the movement gained further traction in response to other killings of Black people, including Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and many more.

The Black Lives Matter website states that it “started out as a chapter-based, member-led organization whose mission was to build local power and to intervene when violence was inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. In the years since, we’ve committed to struggling together and to imagining and creating a world free of anti-Blackness, where every Black person has the social, economic, and political power to thrive.”

Undoing centuries of oppression — including slavery, the failure of Reconstruction after the Civil War, Ku Klux Klan violence, lynching, discrimination by institutions, including banks and the military, red-lining, racist police policies and practices, and mass incarceration — is not creating a “socialist state” or something worse than the Bolshevik Revolution. It is a movement for justice. And while there can be outside agitators in any protest, that is not a reflection of the Black Lives Matter movement or its goals.

To be clear, “Black Lives Matter” does not mean that only Black lives matter. It means that, until Black lives matter, all lives don’t really matter.

DEBRA L. DIEGOLI

Weathersfield Bow

We must move from mourning to lament

From the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump’s only concern has been for himself. As a result, he failed to acknowledge COVID-19’s dangers and value our lives enough to try to protect us from it. It also means that he’s been incapable of mourning the deaths caused by his first failure.

So, America has had to mourn nearly 200,000 deaths without him. Mourning death affirms life is precious. But when death has come needlessly, as these have, it’s time to move from mourning to lament. Lament goes beyond mourning to express grief and outrage over tragic, avoidable death — as America’s COVID-19 deaths clearly have been.

To lament is to cry out in anguished complaint: “This didn’t have to happen!” That’s what we must do now. And that’s just what Trump and his cronies fear. They fear it might dampen enthusiasm for his faltering reopening and prompt more questions about his poor leadership.

Our leaders’ refusal to mourn a tragic death toll has prompted some to make light of it, and further divided us as a nation. That’s another tragedy that we must lament.

THE REV. STEVE GEHLERT

West Newbury

Trump’s disrespect for soldiers’ loyalty

In reference to Paul Waldman’s column (“The commander in chief’s contempt for service,” Sept. 5): No young man, no veteran, especially no veteran of combat, deserves to be called a “boy.”

I can still remember draftees who were sent to Vietnam who, even as they were getting off the plane on their return “home,” were dissed by the protesters of that war. (Most of us have learned better since then.) Is that the kind of company which Donald Trump is associating himself with?

America’s soldiers are but the loyal creatures of civilian leaders who, over time, have been sending them on missions that do not honor America. Not Vietnam. Not Grenada (remember?). Not Somalia. Not Iraq (twice), nor Afghanistan. They, like the elected president, swore an oath of loyalty to the Constitution. In obeying command decisions, soldiers uphold their oath. For the commander in chief (a wealthy person who himself received a draft deferment because of “bone spurs”) to label their loyalty acts of “suckers” and “losers,” if true, is profoundly contemptible.

Is this also the reason why Donald Trump and so many of his ardent supporters have so shaky a relationship to America’s constitutional order that they believe they avoid being “suckers” and “losers” because they put themselves beyond respect for the oath to serve?

Are we suckers and losers when we permit them to do so?

P.S.: I do not regard myself as any kind of a “militarist.” However, I do have a son who chose military service, including deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, and served loyally and with honor for more than 20 years. And I am proud of my son.

BORIS G. von YORK

Springfield, Vt.

Trump stokes the tribal narrative

I just purchased a camping power supply at an automotive store. The man behind the counter (white, 35-ish) asked me for my phone number. I chose not to share it. He retorted, “No problem. This isn’t Russia, at least not yet.”

That’s the narrative against which there is no response, no superpower of rebuttal. Nothing is going to change this man’s story. His entire identity, his membership in his tribe, hinges on his belief in this narrative. And here’s the thing: It’s not his mind that “needs” changing. He holds these views because it makes him feel wonderful, in his body, in his entire being. His nervous system is literally in a state of homeostasis because he adheres to and promotes these beliefs. And the louder he speaks in defense of this narrative, the better and more connected he feels. To change his mind would (again, literally) leave him feeling sick — physically ill.

That’s what happens when one’s nervous system is out of sorts: Physical illness, anxiety, depression, you name it. Of course, President Donald Trump doesn’t know this, as it pertains to neuroscience, but he sure does get it intuitively. He stokes the narrative, the threat to identity, and his (mostly white, male) followers hang with him because they have to.

This, by the way, is why he cannot be defeated by facts. Indeed, his followers must reject any facts about him because to reject Trump and to reject the narrative he and his minions proffer would be akin to excommunication and death.

DAN WEINTRAUB

Quechee

Questions for Trump supporters

The conventions are over. With hope, supporters of President Donald Trump watched some of both of them and listened to the news people on Fox, such as Chris Wallace, in addition to the spin people and their alternative reality.

The question for Trump supporters now is: Why do you favor Trump? Is it because he only cares about himself? Because he thinks the world evolves around him?

Because he shows no respect for women?

Because he lies regularly about everything, including the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because he is more interested in the economy and the stock market than loss of life from COVID-19, which is why he delayed any organized approach for months?

Because he favors authoritarian leaders instead of our friends and allies in democratic countries?

Because he changed from being a supporter of abortion rights to an opponent just to attract evangelical and other voters?

Because he is such a great businessman that he has had several bankruptcies and stiffed many small-business people along the way?

Because he collaborates with the National Rifle Association and his sons like to kill rare animals, rather than supporting reasonable gun laws?

Because he made the rich richer with an unnecessary tax cut that raised the national debt?

Because he has allowed his rich friends to make extra money in the COVID-19 response while failing to help those who have lost their jobs and their small businesses.

Because he is a racist who tries to create division instead of promoting activities and programs that would strengthen our country and help all the people?

Because it was Russian money that has saved him from his bankruptcies, thus making him susceptible to being influenced by Vladimir Putin?

Because the intelligence agencies had to modify their reports about Russia so as not to upset him?

I hope this has helped you to focus on your personal beliefs.

BARRY SMITH

Norwich




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