Flying Confederate flag is free speech
Re June 4 column, “Rebel flag stirs outrage at parade”: columnist Stephen Williams stated that a Confederate flag displayed by a motorcyclist in the Saratoga Springs Memorial Day parade sparked outrage among some spectators and city officials.
Residents were urged to speak out at a City Council meeting. Mayor Joanne Yepsen stated that the city opposes “symbols of hatred, prejudice, and bigotry,” and that she was “shocked and appalled.”
The outrage over this occurrence is ridiculous. Contrary to how the rebel flag has been portrayed since last year’s South Carolina church shooting, the flag symbolizes a part of history, not racism. Many residents of the South view it as an emblem of their heritage. Since the man who displayed the flag in the parade is from Georgia, he may have no idea how controversial it is in the North.
Regardless of his intentions, what happened to the First Amendment? He has every right to practice freedom of speech, whether community leaders agree with him or not. A banner displayed by one individual should not be seen as a representation of the city as a whole.
Mr. Williams suggested that speaking out at a council meeting would be met with agreement in an “increasingly liberal city.” This is a weak statement, since the city’s populace is 52 percent Republican.
Mr. Williams also describes the rebel flag as symbolic of “the past’s racism and today’s.” Any degree to which the flag is mistakenly seen as a symbol of today’s racism is only due to successful attempts by civil rights groups and the liberal media to change what it stands for.
In one of New York’s most vibrant and affluent cities, we should welcome our Southern visitors, rather than appearing as ignorant as they appear to misguided opponents of the rebel flag.
Perkins, Roosevelt to be subject of forum
It was wonderful to read Edward Vanderwall’s June 14 letter “Frances Perkins owed recognition for service.”
Your readers might be interested to know about the Frances Perkins Centre and National Historic Landmark in Maine, where vibrant and future-focused community spirit in her home state has taken significant steps to ensure our nation’s memory of her, is being strengthened (http://francesperkinscenter.org/).
Today, a symposium on “Lessons from Frances Perkins and Eleanor Roosevelt” is being co-sponsored by the Perkins Center and the Women’s City Club of New York at Hunter College in New York City. Among the speakers and panelists are Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and renowned biographer Blanche Wiesen Cook (http://wccny.org/2016/05/06/friday-june-17-inaugural-perkins-roosevelt-symposium/).
The writer is from Schenectady.
We need to do more to protect all animals
Wild animals, and those who try to help them, are having a difficult time. It is not impossible that in the near future we won’t have a wildlife rehabilitator to turn to for help with any wounded or orphaned animal we find.
Some animal rehabilitators are overwhelmed by the need and are thinking of getting out of the business. The “new” would be rehabbers are put off by the $700 price of the rabies shot that the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) requires — those people who are kind enough to volunteer their services to help out.
The DEC also doesn’t allow rehabbers to vaccinate the raccoons that they release for rabies. Quite a while ago, a raccoon had her babies in my front tree for seven years. During that time, I was lucky enough to box trap her and take her to a DEC man, who vaccinated her for rabies twice during that period. She survived and I had peace of mind. That wonderful man retired, and now the rehabilitators I’ve spoken to have told me that they don’t help individual animals. They are just a resource to them.
We are responsible for a lot of the orphaned animals because of our cars or other activities. Wildlife rehabilitators should be encouraged by the DEC, not discouraged. DEC reform is really needed.
When defenseless animals like opossums and porcupines are beaten to death, people should be told that all animals’ lives matter. For instance, opossums are of great value to us. They don’t carry rabies, they scavenge, and they rid us of ticks. Slow and low to the ground, they are tick magnets. They spend hours grooming themselves and getting rid of the many ticks.
We are a destructive and cruel species and we should at least share the habitat we have taken away from the wild animals.
Enjoy Foss’s insight on variety of issues
Congratulations to The Gazette on Sara Foss’ ongoing column.
She addresses important topics such as the oil trains, fracking, ethics reform in Albany, and now, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s strange proclamation against companies that might not be pro-Israel.
In a time when we need to be more concerned with the suffering in Palestine and less concerned with personal political goals, why do we need to be more than just good friends with Israel?
I am very glad for her voice in our community.
Susan Spring Meggs
Trump’s racist views have a familiar tone
Donald Trump could have made comments similar to those he has made about immigrants and immigration policy in just about any period in American history.
In the 1840s, the target would have been the Irish. They would have been stereotyped as ignorant, drunkards, and brawlers.
Trump would claim they could never be patriotic and loyal Americans because, as Roman Catholics, they owed their primary allegiance to the pope. He would echo the know-nothing demand that naturalization take 21 years or longer.
In the 1870s, Trump would have warned the nation of the “Yellow Peril.” He would have embraced the racist economic, political, and social laws enacted in some states that reduced Chinese immigrants to second-class status. Is there any doubt that he would have criticized any politician who dared to oppose the Chinese Exclusion Act?
In the 1890s and early 20th century, Trump would have been alarmed by the influx of Eastern Europeans and Jews coming to America. He would point out that they tended to live in ethnic enclaves, spoke their native tongue and never would assimilate. It is not hard to imagine him as a proponent of the pseudo-scientific theory of Nordic Supremacy.
His criticism of the National Origins Acts of the 1920s would not be that they discriminated against, but that quotas for Eastern and Southern Europeans were too high. Do you think that a person who wants to ban Muslims from coming to the United States would have had a problem with the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II?
The message is clear. If you are a nativist and xenophobic, vote for Trump. If you believe that America was founded by White Anglo-Saxon Protestants and global immigration is a threat, vote for Trump. If you fail to appreciate the countless ways immigrants have enriched the nation, vote for Trump.
Let’s hope that the overwhelming majority of Americans have a deep appreciation for diversity and the richness of our multicultural heritage and reject demagogues like Trump.
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Categories: Letters to the Editor