Durham County

08/15: What you’re saying about Charlottesville and the Durham Confederate statue

Wisdom and strength

I have followed with sadness and anger reports of the deadly attack and violent demonstrations by neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia.

My father (of blessed memory) fought in World War II as the world united against Nazi Germany a mere 75 years ago. Thousands of Americans died in that war against a wicked, racist ideology that supported the state-sponsored murder of 6 million Jews.

That Nazi ideology thrives in America in 2017 is astonishing. How can our society still need to learn these lessons? But we do.

On Jan. 14, 1963, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel spoke at a conference on “Religion and Race” at which he quipped, “Perhaps this Conference should have been called ‘Religion or Race.’ You cannot worship God and at the same time look at man as if he were a horse.” Racism and religion are simply incompatible.

Later in his talk, Heschel teaches, “There can be no man made symbols of God. And yet there is something in the world that the Bible does regard as a symbol of God. It is not a temple or a tree, it is not a statue or a star. The symbol of God is man, every man.”

The Mishnah (Sanhedrein 4:5) teaches, “It was for this reason that human beings were created singly [Adam] to teach...that no person may say to another, “My ancestors are greater than yours.”

These are just a few of the myriad Jewish sources with one essential message: That each person is created in the image of God means that a truly religious person may never consider another person racially inferior. White supremacist ideology has no place in civil discourse and it is at odds with Judaism and the ideas and ideals upon which America was founded.

May God give us the wisdom and strength to fight this scourge. May God comfort the families of Heather Heyer who was struck and killed while protesting, and of Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-pilot Berek M.M. Bates who died in the line of duty. And may this generation carry forth the victories that our parents fought so hard to secure.

Rabbi Daniel Greyber

Beth El Synagogue


Take them all down

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America ...”

Throughout history, our nation’s pledge has remained one of the most recognized phrases in American society. Stitched into the fabric of our culture, Old Glory is the undeniable symbol of freedom and democracy.

Confederates were traitors and fought a war so that they could keep their right to keep a group of people in chains. Recently a Mississippi politician wrote that the people responsible for removing Confederate monuments should be “lynched.” He has been rightly criticized for this, and he apologized for “his choice of words.” But he said nothing about his support of losers and traitors.

The Confederacy lost the Civil War. Yes, it is history, but not a history to be proud of. Is he proud of treason, theft, slavery, stupidity or losing? It’s not just the choice of words that was wrong, but it’s his world view. Monuments to white supremacy and the Confederacy are wrong. Take them all down.

Chapel Hill is similar to Charlottesville in many ways, but one. They had the courage to remove a monument to oppression. We need to take down Silent Sam now. Join Charlottesville in act of courage. Take them all down starting with one.

Gloria Faley

Chapel Hill

A despicable act

As horrible as the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, were this past weekend and as disheartening as President Donald Trump’s reaction, the destruction of the Confederate memorial at the old county courthouse was just as despicable. Hopefully the Durham County sheriff’s deputies who recorded this unlawful act can identify those who committed the damage so prosecution(s) will occur.

We all have First Amendment rights, but we need not act like anarchists. Monday’s damage to the statue only strengthens the resolve of not only Klan and Neo-Nazi supporters, but also those conservatives who contributed to Trump’s campaign, North Carolina’s Republican Party leadership – especially executive director Dallas Woodhouse – and the ultraconservative majority in our General Assembly.

Nice going ultra left anarchists. You’ve brought yourself trouble and consequences you deserve.

Mark G Rodin


We must not tolerate vandalism

I never liked that confederate statue either. And I stopped giving to the ACLU when they defended the Skokie Nazi march. But I understood both.

I do not understand at all why leaders and police in my town stood down when public vandalism took place right in front of them. Tolerance of vandalism, just like tolerance of hate, encourages more of the same.

Would the City Council and the Police Department have been tolerant of the discretion of President Obama?

Robert Gutman


Painful awareness

I’m probably among a small percentage of people who reside in Durham and who was born in Durham and lived in Durham for many years. My heritage is rooted in Durham and in other parts of the South. There are many parts of that heritage which I hold dear. It is a heritage which is in part represented by a fallen Confederate monument in downtown Durham.

One part of my heritage I do not hold dear is the awareness that I had ancestors who had slaves “down east” who worked their farms, and ancestors who were Confederate soldiers. I recall vividly as a teenager a great uncle, from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, who continued to fight the Civil War up until the day he died.

I loved my uncle, but I always felt sad about his Confederate pride and what I considered to be his “ignorance.” He was a lovable man with a racist mentality. My great, great grandfather hid out in a pocosin in Craven County during part of the Civil War, and we don’t know if he did so because he was opposed to the war or because he was a “coward.” Whatever the case, I live with the painful awareness that part of my heritage comes out of white supremacy.

The kind of white supremacy which is again on the rise, so horribly witnessed last week in Charlottesville, has been greatly fostered by a president who so readily uses language of threats and violence more than that of peaceful diplomacy; and a President who won election in part because of white supremacy support. White supremacists have gained a window of opportunity in what they see as presidential encouragement to raise up the alt-right in violent ways.

I deplore the action of the one who used his car as a weapon against those who rallied to denounce the voices and actions of hate groups. At the same time, I encourage those of us who rally against such hatred not to use violent means in response, which includes the tearing down and kicking of the Confederate monument in Durham.

While we may agree that it should come down, we should use diplomacy through non-violent and legislative action in order to bring about such change. “Evil actions against evil multiply evil.” Perhaps we should consider a marker close by such monuments which may allow some “honor” to the heritage of some, while also confessing and condemning the sin which part of our heritage represents.

Mark W. Wethington


What you’re sayng

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