Letters to the Editor, May 26, 2021

Preserve Arcata Bottom

(Letter sent to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors:)

Senator McGuire is concerned enough about the drought to call a town hall meeting, and we hope that our Board of Supervisors will also share this concern. 

My husband and I live on three acres on the Arcata Bottom, land passed down from his grandparents who settled here in early 1900s — land that has sustained three generations. We raise our own fruits and vegetables, and Don hunts and fishes. We hope to have enough water this summer — and thereafter — to continue to live a sustainable life. We hope that this will also be true for our young neighbors who farm the meat and vegetable CSAs near us here on the Bottom, and who bring these products to market in Arcata.

How can you consider permitting more cannabis businesses which may be here today and gone tomorrow depending on their profits and losses, or give those water rights to corporate interests who will ruin the land and leave us nothing to till after they’ve destroyed the soil and environment? 

Please think about us when you decide to give away the legacy we have worked so hard to make productive.

Carol McFarland and Don Nielsen

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Grange voices essential 

Many members of local Granges in Humboldt County read Carolyn Jones’s tale of woe with sympathy, because it was jarringly familiar. When the State Grange went through its civil war several years ago, we started thinking about mustering a militia. 

As regards the upper echelons of the National Grange, about whom we always had the attitude expressed by the Rabbi in Fiddler on the Roof, “God bless and keep the Tsar…as far away from us as possible!” we loathed it, together with the new Grange president (used to be called Master) whom their people had chosen. Ed Komsky was definitely not a diplomat: he strutted into our Halls and barked like a martinet.

But we wanted to keep our halls. So we read all the laws and learned all about the Grange. It is intended to be sort of like an agricultural labor union.

Here is a verse from a Grange song, written early 20th century:

Brothers of the Plow! 

The power is with you!

The world in expectation waits for action strong and true!

Oppression stalks abroad, 

monopolies abound

Their giant hands already clutch the tillers of the ground!

 And here is part of a resolution passed by the Ferndale Grange in 1878:

“Whereas a people view with alarm the growing tendency of a bourbon aristocracy... Which if not checked will finally reduce the working classes of America to mere slaves and vassals… we resolve that we will look upon this bourbon element with suspicion and distrust in their effort to subvert that form of government bequeathed to us by our forefathers and to erect instead a semi-despotic government controlled by a centralized aristocracy.”

The Grange’s passionate defense of freedom and equality ebbed away over the course of the 20th century, and by the time I joined it was generally considered to be in the pocket of Big Ag.

It had strayed far away from its own policies which requires that the pursuit of knowledge have the objective of increasing public and social good.

Our Mattole Grange property was donated also, and the hall built by neighbors. It was always maintained by the community. But these founding fathers and mothers made the choice to institute a Grange, that is, a center which will continue to exist after their stewardship has passed, retaining its purposes and mission. A Charter maintains continuity through generations. That’s the purpose of having a Charter. In this sense, it’s like a conservation easement. It’s a contract made by our Founders, to last in perpetuity.

Also in our study, we realized the Grange has a chance to become a very influential organization. Its National office in downtown Washington overlooks the White House! Although it is non-political, many of our present problems fall within its mission: climate change, regenerative farming, Citizens United, extinction of species, women’s rights, racial justice. It’s a 150-year-old institution, built into the history of our country, waiting to be strengthened by your participation.

Our current State President Kent Westwood was on the Board of Open Door Clinic, and was formerly on KMUD’s Board as well. He lives in Laytonville, off the grid. Although completely local, he recognizes that we in Humboldt County are just as vulnerable to – and responsible for – the nation’s problems. Kent is eager to engage nationally.

He is very lovable.

Betsy Huber, the National President isn’t that bad either.

It takes something like a Charter to keep an institution from withering away or passing into private hands. That tends to happen to Community Centers sooner or later. You have a Grange Hall because it’s a Grange. Don’t spend money on appeals!

As a Grange member your voice gains resonance in the national arena, which in this era of crisis after crisis is crucial.

Ellen E. Taylor
Program Chair, Mattole Grange #569

There is but one law

Dear President Biden,

I have been listening to the news about the situation in Gaza and find it most grievous. I write as a person of mixed descent, Scandanavian on my mother’s side and Jewish on my father’s side. I identify Jewish and follow the Reform branch of our religion. I lived in Israel for 11 months, turning 25 there in 1974. I went full of idealism, expecting to make aliah, believing Israel represented the triumph of the human spirit over the Holocaust, over Naziism, over the hideous worst that could be thrown at it. I left with that dream utterly dashed for many reasons I will not go into here. Suffice to say it took me 20 year to feel comfortable in my choice of religions again, and now only because my rabbi is a woman and our congregation, for the most part, does not favor Israel’s turn to the right. I find a right-wing Israel a travesty and anathema to my spirit.

A right-wing Israel is a grievous tragedy for all concerned. How are we to overcome the trauma of the Holocaust, the PTSD, out of which Israelis are acting? Alas, not with excuses. We must understand that fundamentalist Christianity in the U.S. is behind much of Israel’s turn to the right, but fundamentalism is not new. 

Imagine your loved ones crucified by Rome – crucified. Jesus wasn’t the only one. The Essenes and Zealots of that time literally believed that angelic hosts would come down from heaven to help them drive the Romans out of Israel. That is why the Essenes insisted in celibacy and daily bathing – ritual purity – because the expected to be fighting side by side with the angels. It didn’t happen of course, and as we say, “The rest is history.”

Today, all religions in the Middle East, as well, it seems, the Hindus in India and Buddhists in Myanmar, have fundamentalist branches with much power invested in them. Nobody’s fundamentalism is going to work to make this a better world! I highly recommend a book titled The Other God, by Yuri Stoyanov, Yale University Press, 2000, originally titled The Hidden Tradition in Europe,  if people are serious about getting a picture of the endless political and ethnic battles underlain by the failure of church and state to be separated. I believe what it comes down to is the lack of integration of our own right and left brain ways of knowing reality; that and the fear of death. 

We must find a way to integrate these ways of perceiving reality if we are to have any hope. There is but one law, whatever your religious or secular outlook may be: do not do to another what you would not want them to do to you. 

Enough of the demands that everybody believe the same thing. We have climate change to deal with.

Naomi Silvertree

Live your principles

The following in a portion of a letter to the editor submitted to the San Francisco Chronicle by Robert Leeds, who resides in Oakland, Calif.

“To all those right wingers who abhor socialism, I say put your money where your mouth is. Live your principles. No more using public schools, libraries, national parks, highways, the Internet (made possible by government research paid for by – gasp! – taxes) fire departments, police departments, social security, Medicare and any advances that come out of the space program.

These real Americans can also no longer use medications or eat food that has to be tested by a government agency. I’m sure there are lots of other disgusting socialistic programs that the pathetic commies exploit for their own selfish ends!”

Without these so-called “socialistic” programs, where would we be?

Scott R. Baker

We’ll see what happens

It’s time for many of my colleagues in the California Democratic Party to get a clue about the current gubernatorial recall election against Gavin Newsom. This isn’t 2003, and Arnold Schwarzenegger is not running for Governor of California this year.

In other words, the hostile hyperventilating that you hear from some of our state’s party leaders is unnecessary, since there is almost no realistic chance that Governor Newsom is going to be recalled, in large part thanks to the fact that all registered voters in California will automatically receive an absentee ballot in the mail for this year’s recall election. 

Speaking of unnecessary behavior, the ugly arm-twisting and aggressive suppression of the Democratic candidacies of some well-known potential gubernatorial replacement candidates is unfortunate, not to mention unseemly (and unAmerican, if you ask me). Democrats, run for office if you want to! Don’t be bullied by anyone.

There needs to be at least one viable Democratic gubernatorial replacement candidate on the ballot this fall, just in case the majority of California’s voters do decide to go ahead and recall Gov. Newsom from office. This latest laughable political proposition of “Newsom or No One” currently being promulgated by not only Gov. Newsom’s inner circle, but also by the friends and former underlings of recalled Democratic Gov. Gray Davis is so fundamentally at odds with realpolitik, where does one even begin?

How about with the 2003 gubernatorial recall election in California? “Democrat” Gray Davis (who was barely a Democrat at all) lost that recall election for one main reason – and I’m not talking about Davis’ Republican replacement Schwarzenegger or former Lieutenant Gov. Cruz Bustamante, the most prominent Democratic replacement candidate on the ballot that year. Blaming Bustamante for Davis’ loss is ridiculous.

Gray Davis was recalled as Governor by California’s voters in 2003, because the then 2nd-term Governor Davis had the lowest approval ratings of any California Governor in my lifetime (and I’m a middle-aged man who was born and raised in California). Conservative Democrat Gray Davis’ approval ratings were in the twenties at the time of the recall election, in other words only about one out of every four Californians approved of the job Davis was doing, which is why Gray Davis’ 2nd-term as governor of California came to an abrupt, embarrassing end in 2003. The voters wanted Davis to go.

Blame the blatant corruption of Bush-Cheney, Ken Lay and Enron for Davis’ ignominious defeat, if you wish, but stop beating up on Cruz Bustamante already, conservative Democrats! Or were you unaware of the fact that a bunch of angry, asinine, over-the-hill, white-haired White folks falsely blaming Bustamante might backfire on our current Gov. Gavin Newsom?

As the worst president in American history, Donald Trump used to say so often: “We’ll see what happens.”

Jake Pickering

Letters policy


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