There are a few important takeaways from Mr. Czaja’s recent letter.
First, he is so right that change will happen when there’s a change in the human heart. He is also right that there’s significant regulations that are preventing some people of color from moving to town.
Many Durham/Middlefield citizens are very comfortable with this status quo. But not CAT members. Calling CAT “hypocrites”, at the very least, is inaccurate and at the worst an unjustified slap in the face.
CAT is interested in ways to establish equity in zoning regulations so that our two towns would be more accessible and affordable for anyone, of any race.
Mr. Czaja believes that there is no connection between racism and environmental issues. There is much evidence to refute this premise. I will mention three, but the list is long.
Many trash to energy plants have been located in close proximity to neighborhoods that are largely composed of people of color. It’s a matter of economics, because people of color, and particularly African American citizens, are less likely to have the funds to live elsewhere. Statistically, people living near these plants are much more prone to respiratory illnesses and getting cancer.
Also, low income housing, where residents are largely people of color, are "heat islands.” There are few air conditioners and more heat retaining cement. Again, those extra degrees have been shown to create significant health issues.
Finally, Flint, Michigan. No one would try this in a White neighborhood.
I thank Mr. Czaja for opening a door to discuss this very important topic.
David Zemelsky, DurhamWriting tips
In a vain attempt to help people exercise their right to free speech, here are some helpful tips to any silent sheep entertaining the thought of writing a Letter to the Editor.
The idea is to upset as many readers as you can, so pick a controversial topic and whatever the mainstream opinion on that topic is, state the exact opposite.
Always remember that the average reader is a moron, so use simple language.
In order for your letter to be published, you must first fool the editor into thinking it is fit for print. Therefore, always write into the letter some obvious mistakes, a little profanity, some bad grammar. This will give the editor something to fix, make him or her feel they are doing their job.
If your letter is published, do not be surprised if it isn't anything at all like what you wrote. Editors are sneaky.
If your letter is published, be prepared to be personally attacked as you go about town, usually by people who never wrote a sentence in their life and who are afraid to express themselves.
On rare days, someone will give you a compliment, actually agree with you, and that makes writing a letter worth it.
It's like golf, you always hit one really good shot, which keeps you playing the game.
Mark J. Czaja, MiddletownI care about you
According to the last census, there are over 7,000 people in Durham. Since that time there could be more or there could be less, but that doesn’t really matter because whoever finds themselves lucky enough to call Durham home I want you to know this: I care about you.
We might have differing political views, we might even root for different sports teams (Go, Sox!), but I value your life and worth by doing the simplest thing I could possibly do: Wearing a mask.
I am not going to go into the science of this, which seems to be well supported by folks who dedicate years of their life to studying health and medicine. You know, the people you go to if you break a leg, or spike a high fever, or need cancer treatment, or to deliver a baby.
No, my message is much simpler. And I don’t care if I am labeled as a sheep. Breathing in air while you are outdoors is great, but your life is more important to me.
If wearing a mask saves you from getting the disease, I am happy. If wearing a mask saves your life – a life that could be cut short while alone and in the hospital hooked up to a ventilator – I am elated. If my decision to wear a mask allows you to see someone you care about for the holidays, I’ll be willing to fall victim to a grand conspiracy of a malicious shadow government which wants me to wear a face-covering for some weird reason.
Ultimately, it’s not a matter of politics, it’s a matter of compassion. And I want you to know that I might not know you, but I want you to be healthy and happy. I want you to be alive. And if wearing a mask ensures that, I’ll proudly put it on.
Mike Czarkowski, DurhamDangerous,unethical
I feel the need to respond to the completely irresponsible view that was stated by Sue McIntosh MD in her recent letter to the Town Times. It is one thing for Mark Czaja to spout one of his usual contrarian, and wrong, viewpoints — this time arguing against wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID. However, it is dangerous, unethical and in my opinion a violation of her Hippocratic oath, for an MD to denigrate the wearing of masks and social distancing to prevent a deadly disease.
I work at a local hospital and have seen the disease up close. It has decimated the populations of numerous extended care facilities and several assisted living facilities in our area. Many middle-aged and even some younger patients spent weeks on ventilators, their lungs and kidneys now permanently damaged.
This disease often behaves like a Russian roulette — one person barely gets sick from it, another person who is the same on paper gets critically ill or even dies from it.
The best course is to avoid getting it in the first place, and to do that we need to wear masks in public and distance from people who may have come in contact with it.
Yes, I will hug close family whose comings and goings I am privy to, but I will wear a mask at the hospital and when I go into any place of business or other gathering, to protect myself and my fellow citizens.
Dr. McIntosh wrote: “Take off the masks and hug each other.” That advice is foolhardy.
Bearing with the inconvenience of wearing a mask is the true act of love and compassion.
Cathy Zack MD, Durham