I am responding to a letter to the editor in which the author asked the question “what’s next?” I write as an angered town citizen, not as a member of any organization referenced below.
This letter offered opinion and assessments about the affiliation and agenda of the Durham-Middlefield Justice Team (DMJT), history of the Confederate flag and denial of legal proceedings related to the enacting of a public ordinance banning the Confederate flag within the Town of Durham.
Before we answer, “what’s next?” I suggest getting the facts correct.
Contrary to the assessment that DMJT is “listed under change.org”; DMJT is a non-partisan group, unaffiliated with any organization. Its mission is to inform the community about racial injustice. Change.org is a third party vendor that provides any group with the capability to utilize electronic petitions. The petition found on its website regarding the former Republican U.S. president that the author identified was not associated with DMJT.
The author mentions that the Confederate flag was not of racist origin. The currently used version is a battle flag designed in 1861 by William Porcher Miles who represented a pro-slavery Democratic Party faction known as the Fire-Eaters. The group urged the separation of certain southern states in order to continue enslaving African-Americans.
The petition raised by the DMJT was addressed to the Durham Fair Association, not to the Town of Durham. The author, however, mentions the proposition for the possibility that the town enact an ordinance to ban the display of the Confederate flag. Perhaps she has answered her own question of “what’s next”? Let’s do just that. I’d support that ordinance.
Getting facts correct before making an assessment avoids creating judgment based upon uninformed opinion. The First Amendment doesn’t warrant creating falsehoods.
As budget season is in full swing, please urge your elected officials to not just hold the line on town spending, but ensure spending decreases. With high unemployment and an uncertain economic outlook at both the state and national level, it is incumbent upon local elected officials to decrease spending from last fiscal year.
As a Board of Selectmen member since 2007 who has at times been criticized for being too fiscally conservative, I do recognize there are “needs” that are required for a town to run safely and efficiently and I certainly believe our town employees should be compensated fairly.
However, this year, above all other years, is it extremely important that not a dollar of town spending is spent on any “wants.” Our budget season is a long and exhausting one that requires hundreds of hours of hard work from many department heads, volunteers and elected officials. Let’s support everyone, work together constructively, without criticism, and come to the end result that most (I hope all) residents desire – decreased spending and lower taxes.
John Szewczyk, Durham Board of SelectmenProtected class
If the clerks at the grocery store have worked through this entire so-called pandemic, along with nurses, garbage men, police officers, and the illegal immigrants mowing the lawns and shoveling the snow for the owners of the mansions of Snob Hill, why can't the teachers of the nation put on a mask and stand in front of a classroom filled with children and teach?
Oh, oh, too dangerous for teachers. Teachers must be protected at all costs, they are so special.
Oh, oh, we love the children! No you don't, you love the money and the benefits and the great retirement plan, and your unions. Otherwise you would be demanding a full opening of schools nationwide. Sure, I'll stay home and get full pay for playing on a computer all day.
Teachers are more important than anyone else in society; a protected class of people. Their lives are worth more than that of a grocery clerk, a truck driver, a nurse or a garbage man? They are phonies, afraid of life, afraid of death.
A real teacher fears nothing. Unfortunately, such teachers are few and far between.
Mark J. CzajaWe know whatthe flag means
I believe in the importance of local journalism, and would like to be able to do more to support it, as I fear there are many outside forces making it more and more difficult to sustain good, professional, local reporting. So I cannot help but respond to the publishing of a letter under the title, "What's next," that makes the claim, which you saw fit to print, "the origin of the Confederate flag is historically not a racist one."
The Civil War was fought over the prolongation of the institution of slavery. References to states' rights are about whitewashing history. The Confederate battle flag we know of today wasn't even used as the official flag of the Confederacy. It was used by Strom Thurmond and others who opposed civil rights.
And might I add that we are in Connecticut. So if it is some sort of reference to pride in Southern heritage, what's it doing up here? We all know what this flag means. It means: Not Welcome. It's not even a veiled reference. It means I'm angry, I'm racist, and I don't care who knows it or who gets hurt by it being flown in their presence.
Shame on you for printing this letter. This has nothing to do about there being two sides to all debates or being fair and balanced. That's not what being objective is supposed to mean in journalism. I know this is under the Letters to the Editor, but surely, you can't be content to set the bar this low. Not when the stakes are so high.
Joshua KyllerBe kind
Wednesday, Feb. 17 is Random Acts of Kindness Day. It is easy to do and celebrate. All you have to do is be extra kind and extra nice to someone that you know, or don't know. Here are some things you can do on Feb. 17 – and every day:
Compliment a stranger; treat a homeless person to lunch; say hello to people you don't know and people you do; write a positive handwritten note to your teacher, friend, co-worker or supervisor; pick up litter at a public park or school; place positive notes at work and home; pay for someone’s coffee or snack; shovel someone’s driveway; check on a neighbor; spread cheer wherever you go and on social media. And most importantly, smile.