Letters to the Editor: We must stand against racism in schools, or on Zoom.

Berea College
·9 min read

Face shame

As a white person in attendance at The Carnegie Center’s memorial for bell hooks, the Zoom bombing of vile words and actions that assaulted this celebration were more than sad or pathetic, as quoted in Linda Blackford’s article. The hatred was horrifying. Yet as pained as I felt, a Black attendee pointed out that for her, it is many times worse. She despaired that even a gathering such as this would turn unsafe. Our legislature debates the teaching of critical race theory which would educate students about the legacy of slavery in America and the ensuing societal roadblocks that — let’s face it — grew from a belief that Blacks were inferior and from fear of seeing black skin in their neighborhoods. There is concern that we may reflect on these facts with shame. And so we should. It’s the first step toward building a better, more compassionate world.

Linda Angelo, Lexington

Burden, not benefit

Upon receiving information on the new driver licensing regional offices, I find myself wondering who would be foolish enough to think that this plan benefits the people of Kentucky. Citizens need access to ID for everything from financial necessities to voting, and this plan makes obtaining such a basic necessity more difficult for all those not living in the assigned locations. People with disabilities, the elderly, the poor, those with transportation issues, those coming out of jails/prisons, and those with no access to the internet will be without access to obtaining something so vital.

The population of 101 out of 120 counties will most definitely be negatively affected by this proposal and there is little doubt that due to the burden it places on voter registration, this proposal will be challenged and defeated as being unconstitutional.

This incredible waste of time and money should be reconsidered as it benefits no one but the attorneys hired to fight it.

Jean R. Thompson, Covington

So special

Martin Cothran ends his opinion piece with a rich bit of irony, calling out special interest educational groups. He denigrates the Kentucky Reform Act of 1990, known as KERA (which went far toward leveling the playing field between rich and poor school districts), while suggesting that taxpayers should have special say in schools. KERA was enacted right before my children started in public schools and was the work of a broad coalition of citizens brought together by the Prichard Committee. Site-based decision making councils were active when my kids were in school in Fayette County. But that was not the only activity carried out by parents and community members. There were all kinds of ways to be involved and people were. Still, public schools are complex and messy — in other words, good preparation for life. I recall at this time that the Family Foundation was very vocal in promoting the superiority of homeschooling. They appeared to make their pronouncements without the benefit of wide representation from the community. In fact, I’ve always thought of them as a couple of guys giggling together in a room somewhere, no doubt the most specially special interest ever.

Kathy Johnson, Lexington

Teach our history

I am writing to encourage all of us as citizens to support understanding and eliminating all forms of racism in our society. We saw with the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor along with so many others that this problem is still embedded in our society today. Unfortunately, some in our legislature would have us whitewash our history and prevent understanding how we got here. Proposed House Bill 18 punishes teachers for discussing race in their classrooms and House Bill 14 punishes schools for allowing discussion of race. Please flood our Legislative Hot Line (1-800-372-7181) in opposition to these two bills. In contrast, House Bill 88 requires teaching Black and Native American history in middle and high schools, and House Bill 67 requires teaching of the history of racism in high school. Both of these two bills deserve our full support. As the famous quote says, “those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it”. We must understand the past to be able to do better in the present.

Dan Nolet, Lexington

Prove it

“We love our veterans,” they clamor. They’ll shout it from every rooftop leading up to Election Day, though when it comes time to take care of the men and women who have volunteered the prime of their lives to “defend” the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, their support will fade.

Republicans don’t hesitate at the chance to exploit veterans — taking photos with troops returning from deployments, shaking hands at the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post—but once they have their vote, they don’t matter until the next election cycle.

U.S. H.R. 4673, a bill that would automatically enroll eligible veterans in the patient enrollment system of the Department of Veterans Affairs when they leave the military, should be a “slam dunk.” Still, 168 House Republicans — including Kentucky Reps. James Comer, Brett Guthrie, Thomas Massie, Hal Rogers, and Lexington’s own Andy Barr — voted against it (or didn’t vote at all) with no explanation.

As a Purple Heart veteran who served two tours in Iraq, I can say with absolute confidence that veterans would be better off without the faux support of those who voted against H.R. 4673.

Kentucky, we can do better.

Alex Dixon, Lexington

Block misinformation

Dangerous misinformation bombards us. Facebook and other social media sites have been slow to act against it. It even crept into the letters column of the Herald-Leader (Vaccine ‘Cult’, Nov. 14, 2021). There was the false statement “... a ‘vaccine’ which neither stops people from getting, spreading, or dying of the virus.” The writer is either incredibly stupid or willfully lying. I’m wondering if the Herald-Leader might develop policies and procedures for catching such outrageous statements and decline to publish them.

Michael Kennedy, Lexington

Pot, kettle

Will the real Sen. Mitch McConnell please step forward? On the one hand, one Sen. Mitch McConnell reads eloquent speeches on the U.S. Senate floor and also at events, and he writes equally articulate letters to various newspapers around Kentucky. On the other hand, another Sen. Mitch McConnell almost stammers around trying to create a coherent couple of sentences off the cuff to explain why he thinks African Americans are similar to, or different than, other voters in America. Which Mitch is the real Mitch? I wonder if he relies on a covey of proficient writers scripting what he’s supposed to say in public, or if unplanned ad-hoc events are a real challenge for him now, or both. One of the above Sen. Mitch McConnells rails at the mental acuity of the president of the United States. I would suggest that Sen. Mitch McConnell take a long hard look in any mirror, and also avoid impromptu scenarios as much as possible.

Gene Lockhart, Lexington

Voting measures

Sen. Mitch McConnell wrote an op-ed boasting about his efforts to defend democracy in Burma. Ironic, considering that his Republican party is attacking democracy here.

McConnell is claiming that the Democrats, like Donald Trump, also have a “big lie,” which is that Democrats are lying by saying that Republicans across the United States are passing laws to restrict voting for those who are unlikely to vote for Republicans. Unlike Trump’s ludicrous big lie that someone did the equivalent of fixing a horse race at every racetrack in the country on the same day, McConnell’s pretend big lie is actually true.

The Republicans are not going to the extreme of the Jim Crow era with poll taxes, literacy tests, or white only primaries designed to prevent Black citizens from voting. Instead they want to make it more difficult by limiting how and when voters can vote. They are targeting urban poor and minority voters unlikely to vote for Republicans.

No problem though for the low-income voters in Congressman Hal Rogers’ rural congressional district. They always vote for the small government Republicans against their own best interests. They know that Hal will keep all the government dole money flowing to his district.

Kevin Kline, Lexington

One man

How can one man, one lying, thieving demon of a man, turn an entire country into a place that’s hardly recognizable anymore? The United States has never been a perfect place to live for every single one of its inhabitants, but it was never one of the worst places for Jews and people of color. All Donald Trump had to do was stand before the entire nation and call people rapists, murderers, and thieves. Those awful words opened the floodgates and gave permission for everyone who shared his opinion to come out of the closet and say they don’t like us either and never had. I considered myself a woman of the world. I have traveled outside of the United States and considered myself a globetrotter. I was treated with kindness, dignity, and respect everywhere I went. I was treated so well outside of the United States that I briefly considered moving to another country, but I didn’t want to leave my only child. It breaks my heart to see what we have become. I wonder how so many people can willfully choose to believe a bunch of lies instead of the truth that’s right in front of their faces.

Yolanda M. Averette, Lexington

What’s up, GOP?

It’s getting harder all the time to figure out exactly what the Republican Party stands for. It used to be for fiscal responsibility and balanced budgets, but Reagan took the deficit from $70 billion to $175 billion. Bush 41 took it to $300 billion. Clinton got it to zero. Bush 43 took it from zero to $1.2 trillion. Obama halved it to $600 billion. Trump got it back to a trillion.

They used to favor a strong defense against Russian aggression; now they cozy up to Vladimir Putin’s dictatorship. They used to be for local control of institutions, but now state legislatures are telling local cities and school boards what they can and cannot do.

They used to trumpet “free enterprise” but cut tax breaks to favored industries while restricting what private companies can do to protect their employees from COVID.

When Sen. Mitch McConnell was asked what Republicans would seek to do if they retake control of Congress next year his response was “That is a very good question, and I’ll let you know when we take it back.”

Your guess is as good as mine.

Howard Stovall, Lexington

A long commute

My wife and I watched a CBS morning news story that said entrepreneurs are already considering putting factories in space. She promptly said to me, “If they can’t get people to come to work down here, how are they going to get them to go to work up there?” Good question.

Ralph Derickson, Lexington

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