Letters to the Editor: The more things stay the same, the more the calls for change

A footnote to history

With all due respect to Fhyre Phoenix, rather than remove the McKinley statue from the Arcata Plaza, I would suggest the addition of a plaque that states the following:

*A footnote to history: This statue of President McKinley by Haig Patigian was dedicated on July 4, 1906 after the President was assassinated in 1901. It is part of Arcata’s history. However, times were different then. Many today find fault with his imperialistic policies. May we learn from the past, plan for the future, and live in the present.

George Green

Ignore ill-informed zealots, leave Bill alone

The arrogance and self-righteousness of the vocal minority who continue their efforts to remove the McKinley statue from the center of the Arcata Plaza is almost beyond belief.

For the sake of the history of the town and in honor of its hard-working citizens in past eras, let’s leave old Bill alone!

One can imagine the legacy (or lack thereof) that would have been left for us from classical Italy or Greece if every hundred years or so some group of ill-informed zealots had decided to remove all the monuments and re-shape the cultural heritage to their liking.

Generally, with few exceptions, each succeeding generation should add positively to the architectural, environmental, and cultural richness they find, but leave the existing structures and monuments alone.

Whatever respect that we would desire be shown for our efforts by future citizens of Arcata, we should extend to the gifts and artifacts left for us by those who came before.

Carl R. Ochsner

The 2005 McKcontroversy

Note: The following letter was submitted to the Arcata Eye newspaper on Oct. 7, 2005, during one of the previous pushes to remove the statue of William McKinley from the Plaza. A news story from the time appears at madriverunion.com with the headline, “The McKinley statue debate, circa 2005.” – Ed.

If Ole Maximilien Robespierre had been in attendance at the October 5, 2005 Arcata City Council meeting he would have been reminded of his old Jacobin friends during the Reign of Terror where the mob ruled. Those individuals that differed from the “conventional wisdom” of the mob were shouted down, demeaned and often executed.

The council of recent has degenerated into such a scene, except for the executions. It has slipped a long way since last year when those that held differing points of view from the majority in attendance and those sitting at the council table could at least be comfortable in a polite reception, even if their points of view were not listened to.

However, the reception that Dr. Richmond received at the last meeting of the City Council was anything but polite. He was booed and heckled from the back of the chambers as he approached the podium and following his comments, he was publicly ridiculed and verbally attacked by the speakers that followed his comments. Councilmember Paul Pitino did, following one of the more vicious attacks, admonish the speaker but only after that speaker had finished his diatribe.

If this is how our local government is going to allow the president of Humboldt State University to be treated, a person that has offered to make available his schools limited resources to the city and to work in a collective partnership with the city in addressing its problems, then why would anyone else brave the mob and offer an opinion that runs contrary to the majority of the council and their minions that fill the Council Chamber.

It is obvious that intimidation of the ordinary, hard-working citizen of Arcata is not limited to the Plaza.

At the next City Council meeting another controversial measure will be addressed; that being the statue of McKinley. The council will act upon a petition that was placed before it, having 1,300 signatures, with the demand that the city remove McKinley’s statue from the Plaza. According to an article in the Arcata Eye, the city manager claims that a little over 500 of these signatures may actually be Arcata residents.

He also goes on to say that the cost of removing the statue alone, not counting other changes that would result from this act, would cost the city about $34,000, or roughly the salary for an additional police officer that could be assigned to patrol the Plaza and move our police force closer to full complement.

He did not even get into what the possible cost would be to place something more to the liking of the Jacobins in McKinley’s place.

However, regardless of the cost, the emotional demands of these Jacobins will fill the Council Chamber and the voices of the rational and pragmatic will be drowned out, I suspect that the measure will pass by a 3-to-2 vote of the council.

I propose that one of the sad parts of this, besides the total disregard for the majority of the citizens, is that very few of the councilmembers will do any research into McKinley’s administration. It is also very sad that as has happened in the most recent past, the Meserve coalition will join with the mob in their desire to Stalinize our history by removing those reminders, (statues, etc.) that do not measure up to their ideals of what is worthy and blindly accept the emotional argument of Dr. Schleyer that headed the petition drive without doing any research on their own.

If they were to conduct any investigation into McKinley, they would find that his ratings as a President have varied from as high as the 10th-best president to his present standing of 18 out of 43, based on a 2002 survey conducted of both liberal and conservative university historians.

That places him in the top half of the presidential ratings and a long way from the likes of Warren G. Harding, rated as one of the three failures as president. Thus, he is not the worst president as Dr. Schleyer claimed when he presented the petition to the council.

I am not trying to imply that I liked the policies of McKinley or his administration, but he is not so distasteful that it warrants the cost of removing his statue when there are so many more important and critical issues with the Plaza and the city as a whole.

However, I realize that the majority of the citizens will not appear to offer an opinion that runs counter to the “conventional wisdom” of the petitioners at the next council meeting for many may feel, as I have come to realize, that they will not be heard.

After the most recent treatment of Dr. Richmond, I would guess that they also are not willing to subject themselves to the treatment he had to endure. I for one cannot say that I blame them and plan like most to spare myself of the verbal abuse and watch the meeting from the comfort of my home and with the support of my wife.

My only offering to the council is this; if the majority of the City Council members cannot find it within themselves the courage to face down the mob and reject the petition, if for no other reason than the pure pragmatics of the expense, then at least put it to a plebiscite on the next ballot and let the entire community make a decision as to whether McKinley’s removal is worth the cost and not a mere 500-plus possible resident signers on a petition.

Rick Greene
Arcata Resident

I’ve got the button

In the old days before plastic or store-bought games, a popular children’s party diversion was “Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button.”

The game started with one child being designated “it” who would then stand inside a circle formed by the others.

The game proceeded with the circled children trying to pass a button around behind their backs in a deceptive manner until “stop” was called. Then the fun began as the “it” child would try to guess who had the button.

Now what we have today is a modern adult version called “Button, Button, I’ve Got the Button.” In this game there are two players, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, and each one is an “it.”

Further, they each are pretty sure the other has a button. So the question they each have to answer is, even if one might have a bigger button (as Trump so claims), does it make any difference?

If “stop” is called, can either “it” win, or are they both losers regardless whether one, or both, buttons are pushed? Personally, I would suggest they channel their ego trips into a safer pastime like “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.”

The only problem here will be choosing whose image to use for the donkey; perhaps “Big Don,” or maybe “Little Kim?” Better hide the buttons though; I’m pretty sure they’re both sore losers.

Sherman Schapiro
Blue Lake


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