Letters to the Editor

05/13 What You’re saying: Joan F. Walsh, Evelyn Dove-Coleman, Barry Browner, Amon Muhammad, Nancy Milio and Robert Gutman

A dehumanizing choice

Some 70 years ago, the U.S. acted for justice as a member of the Allied forces that tried and sentenced World War II criminals. How far we have come, in the wrong direction, to now be considering the confirmation of Gina Haspel, who by rights should be charged with war crimes herself, as director of the CIA. As is well known, Haspel oversaw a CIA black site during the Bush-era torture program, including personally directing waterboarding, and was instrumental in the destruction of videotapes that would have served as evidence of these torture sessions.

The CIA front company Aero Contractors, Ltd., based in Johnston County, launched some 80 flights to kidnap “suspects” – some of whom were cases of mistaken identity – and deliver them to CIA black sites or to countries known to torture. The men kidnapped were tortured in horrible ways, and still struggle with the serious physical and psychological sequelae of their ordeals.

Gina Haspel is deeply implicated in these atrocities. She was Chief of Base at the CIA’s Thai black site while Al-Rahim Al-Nashiri was kept naked and shackled there, threatened with sodomy and the arrest and rape of his family, and repeatedly waterboarded. I am deeply concerned that her promotion to the directorship of the CIA would constitute an endorsement of torture that would invalidate the suffering of countless torture survivors, not only of U.S. torture but of torture by other countries, which would perceive the U.S. as offering a green light for their own dehumanizing policies.

Joan F. Walsh


Remove the statue now

During Student Body President Ford Runge’s administration at UNC in the 1970s, I became the first black Student Body Secretary. My godparents were faculty members Blyden and Roberta Jackson. They and my parents encouraged me to be involved in campus activities.

I write today, nearly 45 years later, to encourage current students to be involved in a campus matter. Write to your state legislators to express your concern that a statue is miring the reputation of our great institution of higher learning.

When I was a student, the disparaging saying was: “When a virgin walks by, Silent Sam will fire his weapon.” In this current era of “Me too,” ask the N.C. General Assembly to remove the statue now. Legislators cannot be silent too when the statue has been so offensive so long in so many ways to so many.

Evelyn Dove-Coleman


Vulnerable and gullible

We are very suspicious that the decision about Durham police training was motivated almost entirely by outside forces influencing a vulnerable and gullible City Council.

Does the City Council really believe that in 2018 it is not productive for the Durham Police Department to learn about leading counter-terror strategies and that such training is not good for the well-being of people of Durham? Terrorist events have unfolded in Texas, South Carolina, Nevada, and Florida recently. Are we really safer without the training Chief Davis spoke so highly of in her letter to the city manager?

Where is the evidence to support a contrary view from someone with experience? More likely, the decision was made because the one country on the planet with the most experience in dealing with terrorism, was being targeted by activists intent on its destruction and wanted to use the council for its own purposes, not for benefit of the people of Durham?

Robert Gutman


Throwing ‘political shade’

City Council member DeDreana Freeman was right to bring forth a proclamation in honor of Malcolm X’s birth anniversary. He is good for a U.S. stamp, but not good for Durham ... except in language that is acceptable to some.

It is hypocritical to say that you don’t mind the honor, but reject the inclusion of The Nation of Islam. The Southern Poverty Law Center designation of us as a hate group is only a tool used to scare the well-meaning who may not yet have enough courage to demand that they prove their false charges. We engage in positive work. Minister Louis Farrakhan is admired, respected, loved in America and is received as a head-of-state all over the world.

You’re hiding behind the SPLC’s false designation to scapegoat our councilpersons. Don’t throw “political shade” on Mrs. Freeman because she used language in a proclamation that acknowledges the fact that the Nation of Islam produced Bro. Malcolm. Don’t use “political intimidation” against Mr. Middleton in posting an image shaking my hand.

Remarkable. You all seem to have the privilege to dictate associations, in addition to proclamation language. Is this a type of “militarized policing” the city council unanimously rejected? Mrs. Freeman placed under house arrest and curfew. Mayor Schewel is given a verbal warning and let go. Mr. Middleton is ticketed and car searched while he is detained, but not under arrest. Maybe the Malcolm X proclamation is another victim of Durham’s gentrification. Be Black, but not too Black. This is America. Hypocritical America.

Amon Muhammad

The writer is a student minister at Muhammad Mosque No. 34 Durham.

Teaching truthfulness

Mr. President: You are on record for saying: “I alone can fix it.” Parents and teachers try to teach kids the value in truthfulness. Sadly, they are learning from you that there is little value in the truth. Mr. President: Since you alone can fix it ... how will you fix it?

Barry Browner


Trump brings conflict closer

The president has thrown down the gauntlet by reneging on the nuclear deal – not against Iran, but rather against our closest allies. He withdraws from an agreement that works, one that can be built on with allied support, for nothing but additional uncertainty and turmoil in the Middle East.

His decision brings conflict that much closer between Israel and Iran. It leaves a power vacuum that Russia and China are only too willing to fill, as they have each already demonstrated. India and Iran have recently agreed on a range of commercial, technology, science, and exchange deals. U.S. sanctions will not stop these relations from developing, and may in fact propel them. Alternative banking mechanisms will be created, ultimately depriving U.S. banks from growing markets.

Worst of all, walking away from the Deal provides more reason to doubt U.S. reliability and erodes whatever moral authority we retain in the world.

Our Sens. Burr and Tillis, and Rep. David Price should speak out against this grave misjudgment and seek to reverse it. They should call for hearings to explore the dangerous consequences of this action.

We cannot let “America First” result in “America Last”.

Nancy Milio

Chapel Hill

$20 will feed five

On May 16 thousands of teachers are going to Raleigh to call for the state legislature to provide adequate funding for public schools. Durham Public Schools will be closed because so many teachers will be calling on the General Assembly. Increased state funding for public schools is a worthy goal! Closing the schools means that most school cafeterias will also be closed that day. This provides community partners the opportunity to work together to address food insecurity that day.

Over 20,000 students depend on free breakfast and lunch in Durham Public Schools each day school is in session. However, the regular school lunch program is not funded on days when schools are closed. On May 16, DPS will open cafeterias in the 13 schools that are federally approved summer feeding sites. Cafeterias in other schools will not be able to open, but any eligible child may eat in any of the cafeterias that are open. Nevertheless, many students may not have transportation to these schools. Provide breakfast and lunch to food insecure students in across our county next Wednesday will require community response.

Durham Congregations in Action is partnering with a group of faith and community organizers to collect funds to feed DPS students facing food insecurity. On May 15 we hope to send a bag with breakfast and lunch home with each student who is unable to get the free breakfast and lunch the school usually provides. Faith communities, PTAs, and other organizationshave already purchased and bagged over half the meals needed! We need your help to raise funds for the remaining meals.

A donation of $20 will provide breakfast and lunch bags for five students. How many students can you help feed? To learn more and todonate go to www.DCIA.org./may16th.

Gordon Whitaker

Chapel Hill

Speak up

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