Forum, Feb. 4: Mr. Trump, Don’t Build That Wall

Published: 2/3/2017 9:00:03 PM
Modified: 2/3/2017 9:00:15 PM
Mr. Trump, Don’t Build That Wall

In 1963, President Kennedy stood at the Berlin Wall and declared: “All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words Ich bin ein Berliner!

President Reagan stood at that same wall in 1987 and famously declared, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

That wall has come down and today all Berliners are citizens of the free world, but today our president wants to build another wall.

In recent days “alternative facts” has been added to our lexicon and presidential advisers have been referred to as “propagandists.” Remember some other presidential advisers such as Pierre Salinger, Bill Moyers and James Brady. Their integrity would never have allowed them to use “alternative facts” or be described as “propagandists.” The only public official that I can think of who was officially a Propaganda Minister was Joseph Goebbels in Nazi Germany.

The first amendment to our Constitution, Article I of the Bill of Rights, guarantees freedom of the press, yet advisers to Donald Trump advocate that the press should “keep its mouth shut” and call the press the “opposition party.” Is the Freedom of the Press being challenged?

The Statue of Liberty poem by Emma Lazarus reads: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” The open golden door has always been one of America’s greatest attributes.

Donald Trump is changing that and demands that those “yearning to be free” be subject to “extreme vetting.” What would the history of this country be if the United States had historically been as unwelcoming as Trump wishes us to be today?

Richard Nixon resigned in 1974, less than two years after his 1972 re-election and was pardoned for his crimes. Will history repeat itself? Will a President Pence pardon Donald Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors?

John Mudge


Muslims Among Us

We know from experience and research that the risk of Muslim-related terrorism in America is very low, despite rising numbers.

Half the refugees we admitted in 2016 were Muslim. Muslims are about 1 percent of our population. Unlike in Europe, our Muslim population here is well-educated and middle class. Foreign-born Muslim adults have completed college at a higher rate than native-born Americans. And our American culture is much more hospitable to religious expression.

Most Muslims, like Christians in America, say that religion is very important to them. Many Muslim women always wear a head cover or hijab when out in public. They are more likely than native-born Americans to say that hard work gets you ahead than does the general public. They watch sports and recycle just as we do. They are very likely to become citizens when they are eligible to do so. Only 1 percent of Muslims here say that terrorism may be justified to defend their religion.

Peter Rousmanier


No, It’s Not Hysterics

The Jan. 27 column by Mark Davis entitled “Hysterical Liberals,” deserves a reply.

Mr. Davis, please don’t think you can justify President Trump’s lying because lying occurred in previous administrations. Don’t justify barring immigration and building walls because you imagine that all refugees might be threatening. Don’t suppress voter participation because of alleged illegal votes. Just because it was tweeted doesn’t make it true. The facts prove otherwise.

Davis and many other Republicans employ hypocritical reasoning to push policies that divide and weaken our nation. Davis applauds Trump for rejecting the  “identity politics” of supporting specific groups of citizens. Yet Trump fed the need for such politics by aggressively demeaning a wide variety of groups: Hispanics, people with special needs, Muslims, women, etc. These groups understand very well that they are being targeted. 

Trump and the Republicans are all for local control unless it is for sanctuary cities, state laws to reduce gun violence, women’s control of their own bodies, or town school budgets in Vermont.  

Republicans rail against the deficit, yet they voted for it. Recall Vice President Dick Cheney’s words that “deficits don’t matter” as they funded tax breaks for the wealthy and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. These wars resulted in over 7,500 military deaths and wasted billions of our tax dollars as they ran up the deficit. 

Republicans “fixed” the deficit in the water department budget in Flint, Mich., by diverting water from the Flint River and creating a lead poisoning health crisis there.  Perhaps this is part of what Trump meant about “American carnage.”

Mr. Davis, we are not hysterical. Our vision of America is inclusive, hopeful, and rests on America’s proven ability to unlock the potential in its citizens. We will continue to work doggedly, but respectfully for our vision despite the last election.

Terri and Christopher Ashley


Big Green Successes

I want to let readers and Dartmouth athletics fans know that the Big Green’s women’s tennis team had two big wins last weekend, beating teams from the ACC (Boston College) and Big 10 (Purdue) conferences. It’s always great news when teams from a small liberal arts college like Dartmouth go up against large schools from two major athletic conferences and emerge victorious.

We also want to thank Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon and his wife, Gail Gentes, for cheering the team on during their come-from-behind 4-3 win over Purdue on Sunday. Go Big Green!

Bob Dallis

Dartmouth College Women’s Tennis Coach


Something’s Wrong With Trump

An article in the Jan. 29 New York Daily News has staggering implications. Written by Gersh Kuntzman, it’s entitled “President Trump exhibits classic signs of mental illness” (as diagnosed by trained psychiatrists). The controversial nature of President Trump’s recent actions has elicited this unusual reaction by a group of eminent psychiatrists. They claim that careful observation indicates the president shows signs of mental illness. The article is at

This diagnosis is confirmed by over two decades of research at Dartmouth on the typical nonverbal facial displays of emotion by American leaders. Humans have an innate system of social interaction, in which there is a repertoire of facial displays of emotion that includes “happiness/reassurance” as well as “anger/threat” and “fear/evasion.” A recent survey of media images of President Trump shows an absence of the full, relaxed display of “happiness/reassurance”: when Trump shows he is pleased, there is tension in his facial muscles, and there’s no reassuring tilt of the head (which normally shows the absence of anger/threat).

The failure of President Trump to exhibit instinctive nonverbal behaviors often observed in other successful political leaders is easily confirmed by comparing the characteristic photos of Jack Kennedy, Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan. This absence of relaxed, reassuring signals of happiness typical for other modern presidents suggests Trump’s lack of self-confidence is profound and apparently provides objective confirmation of the article by Gersh Kuntzman.

Roger D. Masters


Scott Seems OK to Me

Before the election, I recommended voting for Sue Minter.

I’ve changed my mind. Gov. Phil Scott has presented several different, exciting ideas and I’m sure he will present many more.

After talking to a friend, a former teacher now retired, she says she agrees with increased payments by teachers for health insurance. Just because you’re a Democrat doesn’t mean you have to give everything someone wants.

I’m sure I won’t agree with everything, but Gov. Scott is not an ultra-conservative, he’s what Republicans used to be, i.e., Jim Jeffords.

Helen B. Michalowitz


Two Fine Educators

Over the past two weeks, I read in the Valley News of the pending retirement of two superb public school educators. Jacqui Guillette, superintendent of schools in Grantham, and Mike Harris, the superintendent in both Lyme and the Rivendell school districts, announced their upcoming retirements in June.

Guillette was superintendent in Claremont and Harris in Lebanon prior to their current positions. Together they represent all that is good in service to public education.

I worked closely with Guillette when I was a member and, for several years, the chair of the Grantham School Board and, since Grantham sends its middle and high school students to the Lebanon School District, I also had the good fortune of being able to work with Harris.

I can attest to their compassion for those in their charge and their dedication to public education. Their voices in support of public education will be missed in the Upper Valley and statewide.

Bob McCarthy


Thanks for the Article

I would like to thank the Valley News and writer Nicola Smith for the excellent article about the Metcalf diary exhibit on view through May at the Norwich Historical Society (“Depression-Era Diary: Norwich Students Prepare Historical Society Exhibit,” Jan. 31).

Curated by Marion Cross School sixth-graders under the guidance of teacher Marguerite Ames and Norwich Historical Society Director Sarah Rooker, the Labors of the Year exhibit reminds us that it has not been that long since Norwich was a town of farms and farmers, whose lives were governed by the rhythms of the seasons.

I would like to add that this activity is part of a long-term collaboration between the school and the historical society, sponsored in large part by a grant from the Norwich Lions Club, that brings most Norwich students to the historical society every year for hands-on history experiences that range from shearing sheep to unpacking an immigrant child’s trunk.

Jane Korey

Norwich Historical Society Trustee 


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