Letters to the Editor

What you’re saying: Kent Fletcher, Rod Gerwe, John Svara, William T. Fletcher, Bruce Collins, and Phil Lawless

Better safe than sorry

Regarding the article “Did sheriff jump the gun on rumored KKK protest?” (THS, Aug. 22):

I think Sheriff Mike Andrews and his office acted most appropriately. I am reminded that in my own 30 years in law enforcement nearly any decision made will be right and wrong at the same time, or so it seems. Had the information been held until fully verified it might have been too late to adequately respond. There is no crystal ball and it takes time to evacuate people, recall off-duty law enforcement personnel, prepare them for the event, etc. etc.

“Better to be safe than sorry” seems to best apply to this situation and I think the sheriff made the right call. If I were in his shoes I would rather defend the “jumping the gun” criticism than the “why didn’t you inform us?” Perhaps adherence to permitting requirements would alleviate future concerns of this nature.

Kent Fletcher


Respect the legal process

I disagree with Shaun Thomas and others (“What you’re saying,” THS, Aug. 20) who want the law to be extra lenient to those who toppled the confederate soldier. They snubbed the law, deliberately destroying public property. Durham was on CBS News with these people kicking the fallen statue with anger and hate. Charges should conform to the law; the legal process should proceed impartially without outside interference.

The statue toppling was payback for the murderous event in Charlottesville. The hate crime in Charlottesville was terrible and deserves the strongest punishment. I condemn white supremacy, Nazism, bigotry and extremism and violence. Pulling down statues cannot come close to the real crime in Charlottesville. But whereas peaceful, lawful demonstrations are constructive, unlawful or violent, destructive protests just invite retaliation.

Our local governments are ineffective in addressing what to do with offensive statues. But Durham must show it won’t tolerate purposeful destruction of public property. If people get away with such acts with just a fine, it encourages more destruction. Activist organizations will pay their legal costs, and the perpetrators will be Scot-free. They will see themselves as heroes instead of the jerks they are. Check at the Durham Solidarity Center website, which gloats over the “victory for Durham” in toppling the statue and calls for more such acts.

Some say the statues are worthless to rationalize leniency. Are they qualified to know the value of a 90-year-old statue of potential historic or artistic merit? We should not interfere with the law because the act is politically popular.

Rod Gerwe


Forged in the devil’s foundry

Sometimes when I want to consider something in a humorous light I make substitutions for the word practice in the now famous press conference rant by Allen Iverson. When HB2 was in hot debate, I would sometimes say to myself, “Bathrooms, man. We are talking about bathrooms,” never forgetting my heartfelt appreciation for the people who were fighting that stupid, evil law.

Today, we are talking about statues, man.

Not that statues aren’t important. They are, just as bathrooms – and the right of all people to use them – important. Sometimes when things a little tense, it’s nice to lighten the mood a little, you know?

How are bathrooms and statues similar? Well, North Carolina was doing pretty well allowing people to self-select their bathrooms until the Republican-dominated legislature chose to single out transgender people for discrimination. Once that demographic was attacked we had to stand up as citizens and resist. We won that particular battle, for now, and thank goodness.

Confederate statues like the one pulled down in Durham and like Silent Sam, have led a seemingly benign existence for decades, at least in the eyes of white people like myself. But their origins were not benign: they were funded and installed by hate groups for the explicit purpose of oppressing African Americans. They should have been taken down long ago.

As a UNC student from 1989 to 1992, I don’t giving a thought to Silent Sam or what he represented. Shame on me. But Charlottesville has changed all that, for all of us. The violence re-awakened our dormant knowledge that statues of Confederate “commemoration” were forged in the devil’s foundry and have no place on the lawns of our public institutions. They must come down, be archived, museumed, whatever, and they will, and soon.

To the powers that be at UNC, we call on you to remove Silent Sam from your campus. He has stood long enough. Please be aware – you are already, surely, aware – that if you fail to act, direct action will almost certainly be taken, likely by some of my friends, who will risk arrest, even injury, to remove this symbol of racist oppression.

Because practice is, after all, important. But are we engaged in a mere dress rehearsal? Maybe this is part of the actual game. I suspect, in fact, that the clock is already running.

John Svara


Sign in the sea

Tuesday night August 22, while watching (just briefly) Mr. Trump’s speech in Phoenix, Arzona, I saw an African-American holding a sign that read, “Blacks for Trump.”

But as I looked in the sea of non-African American faces in the audience, I concluded that the sign should have read (one) “Black for Trump.”

William T. Fletcher


Slavery was not the issue

Just as the War for American Independence of 1776, the War for Southern Independence of 1861 was fought over “taxation without representation.” The North was constantly trying to raise taxes on Southerners through high tariffs on imported goods in order to protect the inefficient big businesses in the North. These big businesses could not compete with manufactured goods from England and France with whom the South traded cotton. The South did not have factories and had to import most finished products.

The Industrial Revolution allowed England and France to produce and ship across the Atlantic products that were cheaper than the products of Northern manufacturers.

When Lincoln was elected president, he and the U.S. Congress immediately passed the Morrill Tariff (the highest import tax in U.S. history), more than doubling the import tax rate from 20 percent to 47 percent. This tax served to bankrupt many Southerners. Though the Southern states represented only about 30 percent of the U.S. population, they paid 80 percent of the tariffs collected. Oppressive taxes, denial of the states’ rights to govern their states, and an unrepresentative federal government pushed the Southern states to legally withdraw from the Union.

Since the Southerners had escaped the tax by withdrawing from the Union, the only way the North could collect this oppressive tax was to invade the Confederate States and force them at gunpoint back into the Union.

It was to collect this import tax to satisfy his Northern industrialist supporters that Lincoln invaded our South. Slavery was not the issue. Lincoln’s war cost the lives of 600,000 Americans.

The truth about the Confederate flag is that it has nothing to do with racism or hate, and the Civil War was not fought over slavery or racism.

Bruce Collins

Blue Ridge, Georgia

Remember next time

The Aug. 22 article headlined “50,000 Blue Cross customers...” puts the lie to Republicans’ complaint about the Affordable Care Act. It seems that 330,000 customers really were able to keep their health plans and were able to keep their doctors even after Obamacare went into effect. They were not forced to change, because the plans were in place before the ACA was passed. Remember that the next time repeal and replace comes up.

Phil Lawless


What you’re saying

Please send up to 300 words to letters@heraldsun.com. All submissions, online comments and posts to editor Mark Schultz’s Facbook age may be edited for space and clarity. Thank you.