Letters to the Editor

What you’re saying: Dhruva R.J. Sen, J. Kay Kennett, Lucy Lewis, Chris Weaver, William C. Crawford, Muriel Williman and Douglas H. Ryder

Brenda Stephens, school board member
Brenda Stephens, school board member Orange County Schools

‘As a black person ...’

Editor’s note: The Orange County Schools’ Confederate flag debate, includng board member Brenda Stepens comments that delaying a vote to expand student dress code prohibitions made her feel “as a black person, you were telling me, get to the back of the line” generated many reader comments, including:

J. Kay Kennett: Board Member Stephens has not during this whole debate presented herself as reactionary. She has sat, listened, evidently taking her time waiting to hear from the community and other board members alike. This to me makes her words an incredibly powerful statement that reflects once again that we are not willing to confront the institutionalized racism in our schools or our society. Indeed she has been told to go to the back on the line!

Lucy Lewis: Thank you, Brenda Stephens, for standing up, as you always have, against racism including when it is cloaked in doing what’s right for “all people.”

Chris Weaver: I really wish there was some way that I could tap in to all the friction energy created by liberals wringing their hands over fabricated traumas. I’m 100 percent certain we could get rid of all coal and nuclear plants combined; I guess that would remove some of the hand-wringing, but as long as there’s pseudo racism somewhere and institutionalized racism somewhere that might be enough to keep the lights on.

To ban or not to ban

Your recent article, “Confederate Flag: To Ban or Not to Ban,” illustrated well the issue’s complexity. I happen to believe that the U.S. Constitution protects, as free speech, the private use of the Confederate flag, even in public settings; and I only support the removal of Confederate statues/memorials if they can be replaced with aesthetically equivalent, publicly approved art.

Confederate memorabilia do constitute part of the Southern heritage. We may object to this memorabilia, but we must also recognize that Southern culture is rich, agrarian, sustaining, organic. We are at least spared the vacuity of other regions of this country, e.g., the big Northern cities, with their skyscrapers, concrete, and social alienation. At least we know our neighbors.

I do believe that suitable replacement art can be created and instituted, perhaps via a Southern/American Heritage Commission; but, in the meantime, students can certainly wear American flags, and Malcolm X T-shirts/other symbols of black pride. Concerned citizens can erect statutes of Malcolm X, Nat Turner, Mary McLeod Bethune, and and/or Sojourner Truth.

I will add, however, that I found the excerpt of Confederacy Vice-President Alexander Stephens’s “Cornerstone” speech repulsive. After more than one 150 years, Stephens’ arrogant nonsense still comes across as a punch in the stomach, a bully’s kick to an enslaved people.

Although Professor Reginald Hildebrand vividly demonstrated, through this excerpt, that slavery instigated the Civil War, the Herald-Sun should exercise caution in publishing Stephens’ views, which can psychologically damage children. That Stephens’ proclaimed these sentiments, to which a society subscribed, is difficult to believe. Hildebrand’s demonstration, moreover, can be considered healthful, an illumination, only if Stephens’ speech, and like remarks, are universally condemned. White intellectuals – historians, politicians, attorneys, writers, theologians – should lead the denunciation, and not stay silent, on the sidelines, under some guise of “objectivity” (for even objectively, these Confederate views are dangerous, abhorrent). Silence is consent. Children must know that Southern racism provoked the war, and the morally righteous triumphed.

Dhruva R. J. Sen

Chapel Hill

Shifting sands of health care

The sands of public opinion have shifted dramatically under the feet of Republicans regarding health care coverage. Recent polling now suggests that a majority of Americans support Congress' providing affordable, comprehensive health insurance for all. When a generic bill with new corrective tweaks modeled on the Affordable Care Act is explained, poll respondents across all party lines say they want it. As long as the word Obama is left out, we are now overwhelmingly for it.

Republicans successfully demonized the ACA, but they forgot to tell us that it was modeled on Romney Care. That is why they can't pass an alternative now. Republicans years ago gave it their best shot. Obama just borrowed their free market approach.

The GOP should recognize that the recent chaotic debate has better informed the public, and it has dramatically shifted how we view health care. We should come together on a bipartisan basis to demand overhaul of the ACA. It is primarily a Republican model with a Democratic president's name on it. Let's fix the obvious problems, discard Obama's name, and take concrete steps to put our health care system on par with the those of the other major industrial nations.

The list of ACA problems along with their fairly obvious fixes is now well known. However, the most important cost containment initiative is rarely discussed. Medicaid does not have to be gutted to curb spiraling costs. All other advanced nations impose stringent controls on allowable medical fees. We already do it for utility and auto insurance rates. Until the U.S. takes health care rates out of the hands of our false free market, costs can never be adequately controlled.

Excessive, unreasonable profits are the single biggest driver of heath care inflation.

William C. Crawford


Trump team can’t just walk away

If you or I were to walk into a bank, pull a gun, and fail in our attempt to walk off with a bag full of money, we’d still be guilty of armed robbery. The fact that we didn’t get what we were after doesn’t reduce the severity of our crime to that of a “nothingburger.”

Three members of President Trump’s campaign team – Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort – all met with a foreign operative hoping to gain information that would affect the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. They don’t get to walk away from their culpability by claiming that nothing came of it. If you put your hand into the cookie jar and come up empty, any thinking person still would know what you were trying to do.

Douglas H. Ryder


Carrboro recycling site closing

The recycling site at Carrboro Plaza located behind the ABC store will permanently close on Friday, July 28. All of the containers for corrugated cardboard and single-stream recycling will be removed to fulfill the request of the property management company.

We have not identified a replacement site at this time. The management company needs the space for additional parking, trash dumpsters, and the successful expansion of the Monterrey Restaurant’s event space.

The remaining four recycling drop-off sites in Orange County are still available to recyclers 24/7, the closest one being Meadowmont Village, behind the Harris Teeter near N.C. 54 East. The other sites are located at University Place near A Southern Season, Cedar Falls Park on Weaver Dairy Road, and in Hillsborough behind Home Depot in the Hampton Pointe Shopping Center. We urge all residents and those businesses with recycling available at their location to make full use of their carts and other drop-off locations for recycling, and to respect the closure by not leaving any items behind after the site has been removed.

Orange County Solid Waste Management wishes to convey sincere thanks to Carrboro Plaza managers for the privilege of using this site for the last 15 years and providing this effective recycling service to the residents and businesses of Carrboro and surrounding area.

Recycling drop-off Sites are still an important part of the County’s suite of recycling services, even with curbside recycling universally available for residents and many businesses having their own recycling service. During 2016 almost 500 tons of metal cans, plastic and glass bottles, plastic containers, paper, and corrugated cardboard were collected from the Carrboro Plaza recycling drop-off site alone.

Muriel Williman

Education and outreach coordinator

Orange County Solid Waste Management Department


Please send up to 250 words to letters@heraldsun.com. All submissions, online comments and posts on editor Mark Schultz’s Facebook page may be edited for space and clarity. Than you.