What is your ethnicity? What an interesting question, depending on the context. I’m an American of Scottish and English heritage. It’s fascinating to think of previous generations who made the choice to travel to America to begin a new life. Their reasons for immigrating are as diverse as the countries from which they came.
Somehow, probably because I’m white, I’ve never been confronted by someone in authority regarding my background.
On July 16, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway asked a reporter his ethnicity before she deigned to answer him. Should she be given a free pass?
President Trump has consciously chosen to use white-nationalist tropes to describe Americans of various ethnic backgrounds. When he does this, he denigrates all Americans, the Constitution and our democracy.
There are those who live with the history of what is created when a leader decides for a country who is “other.”
We would all do well to remember that the Holocaust, and the many instances of genocide in war-torn countries, started with the creation of an atmosphere of blame, distrust, resentment and eventual justification for the dehumanization and elimination of “the other.”
Germany has had to live with the generational shame of members of its society who ignored the build-up of anti-Semitic sentiment and eventually annihilated 6 million Jews and anyone else its government decided was not German enough.
The United States is at a critical juncture in history. The leadership of both political parties — and the voters — have an opportunity to decide where we will stand historically.
Will we look back in shame at our acceptance of one man’s vision of our country and our democracy, or is it “Government of the people, by the people and for the people?”
Wendy J. Halpern,
Re Andres Oppenheimer’s July 14 opinion, “Regressive U.S. Latin America agenda needs makeover:” How disingenuous of Oppenheimer to quote a former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico who has an ax to grind against President Trump.
Oppenheimer failed to mention that Roberta Jacobson publicly disagreed with Trump’s immigration policy and as a result, either quit or was forced out.
Latin America always will seek handouts from the American taxpayer. At the same time, these countries look the other way when their citizens leave, primarily because the countries are corrupt and inept.
I am fine with Trump “demonizing undocumented aliens,” because they violate U.S. law.
Andrew M. Parish,
Have we diminished the meaning of patriotism to only symbolism?
Real patriotism requires an appreciation for what we stand for, not just devotion to symbols of it. Calling out recent protesters as unpatriotic without a discussion of the issues they raise represents a shallow, uneducated view of the meaning of patriotism and the gift of democracy.
Democracy is hard. It requires thought, healthy debate and respect of people’s rights to express differing opinions, even if you don’t agree with them. It requires dialogue beyond name-calling and belittling. Real patriotism includes respect for everyone’s right to speak out, protesting injustices of our society.
With statements like, “If you’re not happy here, you can leave,” it seems that those protesting are the ones who love this country and are willing to put their reputations and livelihoods on the line for a cause.
If loving this country is reduced to wearing a MAGA hat, honoring the flag and anthem and keeping your mouth shut, then maybe there are some countries around the world that you would prefer, because that’s the way authoritarian regimes operate.
Take a side, debate the issues, but leave the name-calling at home.
That word ‘racist’
The word “racist” is a convenient label that is frequently applied to any situation by many to try to silence a viewpoint that is different from theirs. It reminds me of when, as a teenager, I would rationalize that others who exhibited this behavior or used profanity to make a point should be excused because they just had a limited vocabulary.
I guess things really haven’t changed a lot, just the mindless individuals’ behaviors.
“Racist” label does not seem to apply to President Trump’s condemnation of four congresswomen. His comments would apply equally to people of any race, color or gender who have criticized the country that has given them so much opportunity.
In truth, we should just feel sorry for them and consider the source.
Re the July 18 letter “Why we’re upset:” The writer was correct in saying that it is what “The Squad” in Congress has said that’s offensive, not that they are minorities.
Trump is a true maestro by leading the Democrats to trip over each other defending them so as not to appear racist. Race is not remotely the issue, but it sure does make good press, so the president makes sure to fan the flames and keep the Democrats from addressing issues that do matter — healthcare, immigration reform, climate change.
So we’ll have to listen to the pundits drone on while the Democrats work hard to assure their own 2020 defeat.
Martin D. Kahn,
Acosta still erred
Re the July 19 opinion piece “Give Alex Acosta credit — he came to the rescue of a tiny South Florida synagogue:” Mazel Tov to Nathan Lewin for his service to the Shul of Bal Harbour.
However, what he failed to acknowledge is that two wrongs don’t make a right, and one right doesn’t absolve the wrongs. Acosta participated in a direct affront to the judicial system and the victims of Jeffrey Epstein.
Most people have done something good in their lives and professions, with the exception of the current president of the United States, whose name I find difficult to say or write.
Therefore, one act of goodness does not absolve Acosta from the injustices and harm done by Epstein and his cronies to so many women.
Re the July 22 letter “Plant a tree:”
So we planted a tree, which was promptly eaten by iguanas, as was our bougainvillea, hibiscus, lime tree and various flowering plants.
Time for cities, counties and the state of Florida to spend the time, money and effort necessary to rid us of this harmful, invasive species.
As a moderate Democrat, I don’t consider myself a big fan of “The Squad.” However, I consider myself fortunate to live in a country where, at least for now, people can feel free to voice their objections to an administration’s policies without retribution.
When the president even implies that this should not be the case and that these people are unpatriotic, our First Amendment rights and our democracy itself, are in serious trouble.
He still weeps
After hearing the chant of “Send her back,” all that came to mind was the image of Bill Mauldin’s 1963editorial cartoon of the “Weeping Lincoln,” which he drew after John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
The drawing of the Lincoln Memorial, with Lincoln bent over and weeping into his hands, visualizes how despondent and sad I am over the political culture now ruling the White House.
Re the July 20 story “Thomas Keller for under $200?:” In a country where it is estimated that 40 million citizens, including 12 million children, suffer from food insecurity, I’m sure I’m not alone in my disdain for a story that, I guess, that was intended to be whimsical.
Paul M. Whalen,
After returning to Miami International Airport from 17 days in Europe, I was reminded, unfortunately, that the airport’s restrooms are to be avoided at all costs.
They are a disgusting first impression for people arriving in Miami. They are always in need of a complete cleaning, unlike ones in many parts of the world I have used.
They are an embarrassment. MIA needs to clean up its act.