Forum, Dec. 15: Grinch Strikes Lebanon

Wednesday, December 14, 2016
The Grinch Strikes Lebanon

In this season of giving, I am sad to report that the spirit of taking is alive and festering in the Upper Valley. The children at Canaan Elementary School, where I am the librarian and media specialist, were the losers this past weekend when a thief trespassed onto our property on Poverty Lane in Lebanon and stole an uncommonly large and impressive bald-faced hornets’ nest that was destined to soon be put on display for the enjoyment and enlightenment of students in grades K-4.

The trespasser apparently parked his or her car in the road Saturday morning, Dec. 10, and sneaked onto our property to pilfer the 28-inch-tall paper nest hanging on a spindly branch only yards from our house and garage, leaving a trail of footprints. This action will disappoint students and everyone else who prizes the good feeling that should accompany this time of year. That includes my husband, who endured more than a half dozen hornet stings while “discovering” the nest this fall.

If the grinch who did this would like to rehabilitate himself or herself, he or she can return the stolen nest to a large plastic bag now hanging behind our mailbox, or after-hours at the front door of Canaan Elementary School.

Stephanie NelsonLebanon Financiers and Standing Rock

I am closing my account at TD Bank. Despite the friendly and helpful tellers and staff in Woodstock, there’s no way I could keep paying for the guard dogs, pepper spray and mace, the rubber bullets and the high-pressure hoses used against protesters at the Standing Rock Indian reservation in North Dakota. TD Bank is not alone, of course, in helping finance this outrage. The organization Food and Water Watch shows a line of credit of over $10 billion dollars for the oil companies involved in the project to build a pipeline from the Bakken Fields all the way to the South, where the oil will be refined and shipped overseas for profit.

There are so many banks that wish to lend their money that it is hard to find one that doesn’t. There is money to be made. But it may not be too late. Many banks may be vulnerable to public pressure. They desire good public relations. They wish to appear “green.”

The pipeline construction through Standing Rock represents a violation of the rule of law and represents an extreme of corporate and federal overreach that ought not to be allowed to stand. The proposed pipeline would go under the Missouri River. An accident, a leak of this highly combustible oil, would threaten the only water supply in this region.

Though we are grateful that progress on the Dakota Access Pipeline has been suspended, it was not because of any actions of the money lenders who are financing the project. I am hopeful that financial officers of these banks, like many private citizens, are becoming increasingly aware of the possible environmental and social consequences of this and other pipeline projects.

Sonny Saul Woodstock

Disenchantment in Another Era

As a literary scholar who hews to the currently unfashionable belief that history matters, I often come across perceptions from the past that relate to our present woes.

Still reeling from the recent fantastical election results, I sought respite from the unthinkable by immersing myself in further reading about one of the great, and now woefully neglected, giants of 19th-century America, William Cullen Bryant.

When barely a teenager, Bryant, guided into the Federalist Party by his father, wrote The Embargo, a poem attacking Thomas Jefferson that had the most unlikely result of becoming a best-seller throughout the Northeast. Subsequently disenchanted, he became a Jackson Democrat around the age of 30, and as editor-owner of the New York Evening Post, he exercised one of the most powerful voices advocating for the people against “the interests.” But the issue of slavery led to his leaving the Democrats in favor of the short-lived Free Soil Party, then to being one of the founders of the Republican Party in 1856.

At the start of 1860, his meeting with a small handful worried by the virtual certainty of William H. Seward’s nomination and election as president (and, thereby, control of patronage by the unsavory Thurlow Weed) served as the initial boost of Abraham Lincoln into contention for the nomination.

The election of 1876, however, finally brought this doughty warrior for a better America to disillusionment: “Our country,” he wrote, “seems to me disgraced by the conduct of both parties. Neither seems to have any other object than to get or keep in power and keep the other party out. There is no longer any contention about measures and policies.” Within the hour, a chance encounter with the words of George Washington linked to Bryant’s despair over politics driven solely by pursuit of power: “Government is not reason. Government is not eloquence. It is force. And, like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

Frank Gado White River Junction

Flaws of Identity Liberalism

Steve Nelson (“The End of Identity Liberalism?,” Nov. 27) falsely equates the noble goal of civil rights equality with the politics of identity liberalism. The latter panders to people based upon their identity rather than based upon their grievance. It is a shame the Valley News chose to print his response rather than reprinting the underlying New York Times review, “The End of Identity Liberalism,” which merits a full reading.

Nelson states that “identity liberalism is not based upon divisiveness.” This is open to debate; however, it seems inarguable that identity politics is associated with divisiveness. Communism is not based upon tyranny, yet history shows the two are inextricably linked. Government bureaucracies are not based upon waste and inefficiency, yet the one begets the other.

Nelson should sit in on one of his school’s science classes, hopefully where students are taught that theoretical opinion must fit with observable reality. Identity politics and divisiveness are two sides of the same coin.

As to empathy and solidarity, Nelson writes that campus safe spaces are not political correctness but “expressions of kindness.”  Not available to people beyond the secure bubble of the academy, perhaps safe spaces are really, to reuse his own words, “an unfortunate expression of privilege.”

Tim DreisbachSouth Royalton

I’m in, With This Exception

Regarding Robert Spottswood’s Forum letter (“Don’t Accept These Things,” Dec. 13), I’m in as well, but with an important exception. If many of a religion’s tenets, at least as understood by a large number of its followers, are at odds with the core values of a liberal democracy; and if its doctrines, at least as evangelized by many of its clerics, do not align with the precepts espoused by Martin Luther King, then I refuse to charge that anyone who questions that religion is a bigot.

I rather think that anyone who does not do so, or who asserts that the religion is simply misunderstood, is an apologist for words and actions that actually promote discrimination, bigotry and economic inequality (the last especially with respect to women). There definitely are “things in our world to which we should never adjust.”

Edwin Johnson Brownsville

West Lebanon Gets a Drop Box

Those who live or work in West Lebanon will be pleased to know that after a hiatus of five years, a postal drop box (blue collection box) has been returned to Main Street. The blue box is located near the front entrance to the Kilton Library. We thank the post office and we particularly thank Jerome A. Maslan, special assistant to Senator Kelly A. Ayotte, for making this happen.

We encourage people to use this drop box so it won't ever disappear again. Thanks to Sean Fleming, library director, a notice about the blue box and a picture appeared on the library Facebook page on Nov.10.

Margaret A. Campbell West Lebanon