Niska-Day float was a tribute to heritage
Regarding several recent letters to the editor about the Girl Scout float at the Niska-Day parade [Jo Anne Assini, May 29; Tricia Margas, June 2; Anna Mattis, June 9],, it is better to be completely informed before formulating an opinion.
The “theme” of the 35th Niska-Day was a celebration the fiesta way. There are various things associated with the Mexican culture that are not limited to what has been outlined in the previous letters to the editor.
Sombreros, ponchos, and maracas are also a historically accurate depiction of the Mexican culture. Sombrero means shade and was used in Mexico to protect individuals from the sun and other natural elements.
Ponchos are an iconic symbol and are considered by many to be a fashionable article of clothing, which originally served the purpose of protecting Mexican’s from harsh weather. Maracas are an instrument used to keep beat in music and are used often at Mexican celebrations.
Those who associate these things as something negative or shameful are projecting their own biases. Now, with that being said, there is a clear distinction between stereotypes and inaccurate stereotypes that lead to racism.
Stereotypes are images of a particular race or culture.
It is when you distinguish that race or culture as inferior or superior to another race that there becomes an issue. This was not the case here.
We feel we were celebrating the culture and realize that although Mexicans may not dress this way today, many do during fiestas and other cultural events celebrating their rich heritage. It's no different than lederhosen and dirndls being worn at fairs, Octoberfests and cultural events. Most Germans don’t wear these “outdated” clothes today, but these outfits are symbolic of their heritage.
The only thing in the letters that did resonate with us was the implication that we negatively impacted those entrusted in our care.
However, after hearing from a significant number of people who
approached us at church, school functions, sporting events and within our neighborhoods and community, we are comforted and confident that the float was appropriate.
Yet, the utmost authority on what a child is or isn’t exposed to rests with the parents. Since we have been assured that if we do something considered emotionally, physically, or mentally damaging, the parents would have spoken up or simply not allowed their child to participate.
Having been to Ireland, we can honestly say that we have never seen anyone sporting a cartoonish orange mustache or beard, wearing a leprechaun hat, or dressed in green knickers. Yet, at every St. Patrick’s Day Parade or Irish festival, many are dressed in this attire.
Instead of becoming uptight over the historical inaccuracies of these garments, we will continue to choose to join in the fun and with a smile declare, “Top of the Morning to you.”
Community Oriented Volunteer Parents
Get facts straight in criticizing liberals
Since the 2008 presidential election, there has been a steady stream of letters condemning “liberals” and “liberal” policies. Some of these letters even claim that “liberals are ruining the country.”
These letters, which for the most part are polemics against the Democratic Party in general and President Obama in particular, neglect analyses and rely on anecdotal evidence to “prove” their assertions. From the tone of most of these letters, I would conclude that the writers harbor a free-floating anger driven by frustration and have identified “liberals” as the cause of their frustration. Perhaps some of this frustration is due to the fact that a “person of color” won two consecutive presidential elections.
A factual analysis of the status of our country does not indicate a country near ruin, but rather, shows that the country is doing reasonably well given the economic and military follies of the G.W. Bush presidency. Our economy has exhibited a more robust recovery than most other developed nations, and we have significantly reduced our military footprint abroad.
At the same time, I would agree that there is cause for frustration given the dysfunction of government. However, in my opinion, this dysfunction is not due to liberals, but rather to the extreme right of the Republican Party. In support of my position, consider the example described below.
Before the 2014 mid-term elections, Republican leaders were quick to blame the dysfunctional budget process on Senate Democrats. However, Republicans currently control both the House and the Senate, and now we see that battles between Republican senators and Republican House members are derailing the 2017 budget process.
Thus, it appears that the budget problems of the past seven years were not due to Senate Democrats, but rather, were a consequence of House Republicans allowing the right-wing “tea party” minority to dictate policy.
I suggest that the writers of these anti-liberal letters reflect on Pogo’s realization: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
Meeting Ali made a lasting impression
It was the summer of 1963 and I embarked on a trip via train to Chicago for two weeks with my friend to visit his relatives.
One day we were riding a bus and someone had the radio on and an announcement was made that then Cassius Clay would be appearing at a local theater that day, as he was preparing to fight Heavyweight Champion Sonny Liston.
Being an avid boxing fan, Liston was my favorite fighter. I had read about Mr. Clay and he was described as brash, outspoken, cocky and very fast. We decided to go see him and find out what he was all about.
The theater in downtown Chicago was nearly half full, and there was Cassius on stage, talking boastful, spouting poems, telling jokes and predicting what round he would stop the invincible Sonny Liston. He asked for Liston fans to stand up. I was one of three that did. He then proceeded to admonish us for siding with Liston.
Outside the theater, Cassius was signing autographs when he looked up and spotted me; he smiled and came over to me and asked, "Weren’t you one of the boys who stood up for Liston?" I nodded yes. He said, "I have a surprise for you. I will destroy that ugly bear and you will be shocked. Round 8 cuz I’m great." I never doubted him again. Muhammad Ali has been an inspiration to me in my athletic endeavors and community service work. I admire his will to succeed and strength to stand by his convictions. He lamented not long before his passing, "Do you think people will remember me?"
Champ, people will remember you long after I’m gone. He floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee. I’ll never forget the day I met Muhammad Ali.
Enjoy sports columns but article incomplete
I have been an avid reader of The Gazette since 1983 when I moved to Stillwater. The sports section, outdoor activities, have always been my favorites.
The June 9 article [“Having an understanding wife helps makes hunting fun”] by Ed Noonan about shooting woodchucks seems incomplete. What does he do with the bodies? I was raised in a small mill town in the Adirondacks during the worst of the Depression. My brother and I hunted and killed “chucks” with our homemade sling-shots. Nothing was wasted. My mom stuffed and roasted them — very good. Dad made the first outdoor grill I ever saw. Our home was in Conifer from “Coniferous,” St. Lawrence County, near Tupper Lake. Keep the good stuff coming.
Sydney W. Thomas
Editor's Note: Ed responds: "The woodchucks I referred to were taken back in 1966, when they were all over. There was an old gentleman who would take and eat them. Finding woodchucks today is difficult. The few I get I give to a member of my hunting club and he makes stew — which I do not eat."