Letters to the Editor March 21, 2018

City Council, keep your word

I am writing as a voter and citizen of the City of Arcata, regarding the council vote and decision to remove the President McKinley statue.

I support removing the President McKinley statue because he does not belong in the heart of Arcata in my opinion. I believe the history of President McKinley is important, regardless of his actions or his moral standing, but because it is our past; this something to learn from and value. However, I grew up in Virginia, surrounded by names and symbols of the Confederate nation. I still have Boy Scout patches I was awarded as a child with Confederate flags on them.

To the point, our nation grows and changes as the emerging generations come of age. We live in a country that strives to be fair and democratic. I am happy to converse with those who have options that are drastically different than mine. There is certain to be President Trump statues, a library and variety of other symbols commemorating his presidency. I think he is an idiot, I do not like him, but that is just an opinion.

The City Council voted to remove the President McKinley statue. If they do not honor this vote, they better have a  critical reason to re-vote. We just changed our mind, or the folks that want to keep the statue just didn’t show up doesn’t cut it!

Look folks, we barely have a 50 percent voting attendance record in the United States; we don’t say Trump can’t be president because not enough people showed up to vote. The council meeting was well advertised and publicly open, one could even give feedback online, as I did, and not even show up for the meeting.

If the word and honor of the City Council is to be preserved, if they actually want to be re-elected, I think its important to be extremely mindful of democracy and every decision made.

Dan Bixler

Volume isn’t wisdom

I have been publicly silent on the issue of removing the McKinley statue, but the Arcata City Council’s recent vote for removal was just too much for me to swallow. I agree with Michael Winkler, Dan Hauser and others that the council succumbed to the loud voices from those who spoke at various meetings.

Loudness does not confer representation, and this is not the way to govern on such an issue in a diverse city such as ours. I am quite disappointed with the council majority to have decided as they did with so little input.

I have done some research on our 25th president and he doesn’t seem to be the bad dude he’s been made out to be by some. No leader, including those few most cherished, has a blemish-free record, including Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Kennedy and others.

Sadly, we live in a time when citizens are divided by a few hot-button issues when there are more things we can agree on than we realize. It’s like the Venn Diagrams we learned about in grade school, and we overlap more than we diverge, but the overlap is downplayed in a cynical ploy to hyper-partisanize the public. To yield to the loudest among us and ignore the rest only divides us further. Just “another brick in the wall,” to quote Pink Floyd.

I would like the statue to remain where it is. Yes, he is an older white man (bronze, actually) in the depiction, but he has a kindly demeanor, with his hand outstretched. And we have that endearing story of the missing thumb, the reward, and the eventual return to its rightful owner’s right hand.

If a vote is to decide the issue, then make it part of the next official ballot, not some sort of special mail in thing that will likely have low participation. This is a big issue for Arcatans and the more that make their voices heard, the better.

Randy Klein

Advo-zealots have work to do

Now that the foot soldiers from the Ministry of Truth have succeeded in badgering the City Council to remove the iconic statue of former President William McKinley from the City Plaza, this troop of zealots may want to march forward and “finish the job.”

Within the various bookstores and thrift stores (not to mention the Public Library) throughout the town, there is undoubtedly a large body of manuscripts, likenesses, old National Geographic magazines and other materials that contain the thoughts and prejudices of other 19th and early 20th Century figures whose views were equally archaic.

Such famous individuals whose writings at times reflected unacceptable (by current Arcata standards) thinking could include Theodore Roosevelt, Margaret Sanger, Booker T. Washington and Abraham Lincoln, among many others.

In place of the statue, I suggest a large fire pit, where these undesirable written works could be properly incinerated to the enjoyment of the populace.

As the advo-zealots search the town and collect the fuel for this sacrificial rite, they might want to wear brown shirts with distinctive logos so that their public service can be recognized by all.

Carl R. Ochsner

What Bob left out of his column

In his guest opinion “McKinley – history tells us he was above average, not a monster” (Union, March 14), Bob Holcomb correctly states that the Dawes Act [legal codification allowing white “settlers” to steal land from Native Americans] was signed into law by President Cleveland.

Why does he not mention The Act for the Protection of the People of Indian Territory introduced by Curtis, (R) Kansas and signed into law by President McKinley June 28, 1898? This act amended the Dawes Act: abolition of tribal governments of the five “civilized” tribes and establishment of inholdings for whites to be completed by March 1906 – effectively extending all parts of the Dawes Act to an additional 90 million acres immediately with the loss of more land to follow.

Mr. Holcomb questions the historical knowledge of Arcata residents who want the McKinley statue removed from the Plaza. Why does he not mention the Anti-Imperialist League, a widespread movement in the U.S. opposed to overseas empire that started during the lead up to the Spanish-American War and the Philippine native’s insurgency, 1898-1899?

Members of the Anti-Imperialist League included Andrew Carnegie, Grover Cleveland, well known social activists like Jane Addams, Samuel Gompers, Booker T. Washington, Mark Twain; this movement cannot be characterized as “extremist.” President McKinley had a choice – to expand overseas or not to expand; he chose to expand overseas and to lead us on our course of global imperialism.

According to Stephen Kinzer in The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain and the Birth of American Empire, 2017, the treaty codifying the U.S. take-over of Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico, sparked a 34-day debate in the Senate and passed the two-thirds required majority by one vote; following legal challenges SCOTUS upheld the treaty by a five to four vote.

Mark Twain captured our actions well: “There must be two Americas: one that sets the captive free, and one that takes a once-captive’s new freedom away from him, and picks a quarrel with him with nothing to found it on; then kills him to get his land.”

Arcata residents and City Council members standing for removal of the statue are standing against global imperialism and against white supremacy.

Diane Ryerson & Walt Paniak

Trump’s tempest in a D cup

Donald Trump continually stirs up controversy, but it has yet to derail him. As candidate, he publicly disparaged a disabled reporter; and for her looks, fellow candidate Carly Fiorina. There was also a video released showing Trump bragging about prior lewd behavior toward women. Regardless, he was still able to pull off a victory.

As president, controversy continued. His business holdings were so vast many claimed he still had conflicts of interest even after transferring control. His steadfast withholding of personal tax returns additionally clouded this issue.

Controversial also were the appointments of his son-in-law as a key senior advisor and his daughter as an unpaid assistant. He often chose as department heads individuals who had disdain for the very departments they were to lead.  And Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, possibly for his displeasure with Comey’s investigation into US election interference by Russia. This led to the eventual appointment of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel to continue the investigation which may yet trap Trump in its web.

But what could turn out to be most significant is the current lawsuit by Stephanie Clifford (aka “Stormy” Daniels) the rather bosomy stripper who alleges she had an affair with Trump for a time starting in 2006.

The affair itself is not the controversy as much as the fact that Trump’s personal attorney covertly paid Clifford $130,000 of his own money shortly before the 2016 election to have her sign a non-disclosure agreement about it. She is now suing Trump in order to legally break her silence claiming the agreement in which they were each identified by pseudonyms should be declared null and void as the Trump pseudonym’s signature line was left blank.

If victorious, Clifford’s lawsuit might be the first controversy that results in major legal and political damage for Trump; Trump’s “Tempest in a D-Cup” you might say.

Sherman Schapiro
Blue Lake



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