A letter to the editor in The State Journal ("No gray area when it comes to racism and the president," Aug. 3-4) inspired the thoughts that follow. The author, while claiming not to be writing about politics, urged readers to vote Democratic for the sole reason, the author asserts, that the president is a racist.
Personally, I have not seen or heard any proof to support such a claim. In fact, my lived experience is that the president who did more to stir up racial disharmony and whose economic policies hurt African American families was Barack Obama. In contrast, President Donald Trump’s policies have improved economic well-being and job opportunities according to every reliable measure.
The president was accused by the author because he took issue on some points with a few black leaders and because he “attacked the city of Baltimore and other cities” that have large black populations (here the author presumably transfers a comment about the conditions in a city to an attack on its inhabitants as a race). This is scanty at best and even meritless.
A little fact checking easily produced 1) “African American faith leaders defend Trump after White House meeting, ‘He’s not a racist,’” — see foxnews.com, and 2) “Trump’s no racist — he’s an equal opportunity offender,” noting that “(Coretta Scott) King (daughter of Martin Luther King Jr.) told Trump she had photos of him with Sharpton and Jackson … ”at a Chicago-based Rainbow PUSH Coalition program where Trump received awards" — see thehill.com. Interestingly, both Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson considered Trump a friend in the '90s!
The point I most want to make, however, is about the expression of thoughts and ideas in the public forum. Issues should be debated on the merits but not in labels and accusations, especially those lacking a sure foundation. I am not acquainted with the author of the letter to the editor. This writing is not a personal attack of any kind. And, we should be able to have a discussion and share ideas without personal attacks and labeling — it is called free speech.
Heretofore, in this country (that is, until relativism produced its own breed of intolerance, which it always does because truth does not set a limit on it), we have been able to disagree honorably without name-calling or personal attacks. Just because a person views issues differently or holds a different opinion or sees a different logic on an issue does not mean that the person is hateful, fearful or racist.
People can disagree with others and listen and share respectfully. In fact, this kind of exchange was considered a great way to learn. Unfounded accusations and labeling are an attempt to inhibit free speech and impose an agenda. In my view, freedom of expression is in danger in this country because of the intolerance of those who strive to restrict the free speech of those with whom they disagree.
Let us also be clear about a few other things — politically, that is. The writer urged voting only for Democrats, yet House Democrats have more than 70 times defeated a bill that would stop infanticide.
Democrats in New York killed a bill for tuition assistance for the children of veterans who died in battle; then they approved subsidizing college education for illegal immigrants — $27 million for the children of those here illegally while the existing $2.7 million is all that is allocated for children of soldiers killed in battle. See nypost.com article on April 10: “Democrats gave 27 million to children of illegal immigrants not vets." It is also noteworthy that most of the Democratic presidential frontrunners want to turn this country into a socialist state (similar to that which produced a disastrous result in Venezuela).
We do indeed have distinct choices in the upcoming election, but the exercise of those choices by voting and supporting candidates should not be based on derogatory and false labeling.
Phyllis Sower is a Frankfort attorney. She holds a Master of Arts in Theology and is currently pursuing a J.C.L. at Catholic University of America. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.