SERIOUSLY, JUST WEAR YOUR MASK: But please, just don’t think about it as so many Republicans do. “Mask-wearing has become a totem, a secular religious symbol,” Alex Castellanos, a longtime Republican strategist, told The Washington Post. “Christians wear crosses, Muslims wear a hijab, and members of the Church of Secular Science bow to the Gods of Data by wearing a mask as their symbol, demonstrating that they are the elite; smarter, more rational, and morally superior to everyone else.” This is a bizarre way to talk about people who are guided by facts, science and reason. It’s not about making a political point or asserting moral superiority; it’s about saving lives and protecting one another — which should be a basic element of citizenship in any democracy. Why turn a straightforward public health issue into a political one? The virus doesn’t care whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat. It ravaged blue states in the spring, and now it’s plowing through red ones. All it cares about are finding open mouths and nostrils. It’s crazy that we are having this debate after all. Dozens of countries have already mandated mask-wearing in public. It’s not a coincidence that the United States remains the world’s coronavirus hot spot.
GENE NICHOL: THE HARD RAIN IS FALLING ON US NOW: A cruel pandemic kills by the hundreds of thousands – but falls heaviest, as ever, on the poor and the black and the brown. It leads millions into forced exposure as essential, yet somehow expendable, front-line workers; while more highly advantaged neighbors enjoy safer shields of isolation. It strains and starves millions without reserves upon which to rely; and endangers the bodies of those callously excluded from the most unequal health care system in the world. And this unfolds while hapless, craven and bigoted national leaders withdraw from sworn and defining obligations, comfortable that prerogative and status will shelter them and their families from tragedies borne by others. An economic crisis places our intense fissures of polarization in sharp and inescapable relief. An astonishing percentage of the nation is unemployed – leaving families resource-less, frustrated, and riven with fear. And finally, our yawning racial disparities and oppression not only deny the full dignity and humanity of millions of our sisters and brothers, but are pervasively displayed in ways that humans of even modest conscience, much less belief in our national mission, cannot longer ignore. Brutal murder by government officers – of our members, in our names – demands more than reform. And it becomes impossible to deny that police abuse is merely the most irrefutably visible tip of a massive and historically imposed iceberg of racial subordination. A century and a half after our Constitution promised “equal protection of the laws”, we’ve yet to show, as Dr. King put it, that we’ll “be true to what (we) put on paper.”
REFLECTING ON SYSTEMIC RACISM IN HIGHER EDUCATION: After reflecting on personal experiences as an African-American professor for four decades in two predominantly white institutions, I will highlight activities that have given me race fatigue over the years – things I no longer would have to do or experience if systemic racism did not exist. Watching, for example, a white candidate ultimately gets the job despite publicly admitting not being ready or qualified for the advertised position. I should note that for this search we graciously dismissed a highly qualified Black candidate after multiple rounds of perfunctory, check-the-diversity-box interviews. In addition, we gratuitously directed the Black candidate to searches at notably less prestigious institutions – a classic case of racial steering normally observed in residential and housing searches. The most gut-wrenching discussions have been with Black colleagues who were turned down for higher-education leadership roles after receiving unanimous or near unanimous votes from search committees. And making matters worse, these colleagues later discovered that the jobs were offered to less-qualified white colleagues who, in some instances, were not even in the original search – a clear violation of equal employment opportunity law. The fourth is watching talented young Black scholars routinely channeled into non-tenure track positions while talented white scholars gain access to prized tenure-track positions. Non-tenure track positions typically carry higher teaching loads, offer little (if any) research support, and furnish no pathway to job security or tenure in the university.
THE WORST PRESIDENT EVER GETS WORSE: Three months ago — all the way back on April 5 — I proclaimed Donald Trump the worst president ever. Oh, how innocent I was. Sure, I knew he was bad. But not this bad. Back then I thought he was barely edging James Buchanan in the annals of presidential ineptitude. But now, with the commutation of Roger Stone’s well-deserved prison sentence and so many other vile acts, he has disgraced the nation’s highest office as no previous occupant has come close to doing. Think about all that has happened since April 5. That was before security forces attacked peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square so that Trump could stage a bizarre photo-op. Before he pushed to send the armed forces into the streets. Before he embraced “white power” and called Black Lives Matter “a symbol of hate.” Before he vowed to veto the defense authorization bill to prevent the renaming of military bases named after Confederate generals. Before he used the novel coronavirus as an excuse to shut down immigration and threatened to revoke the visas of college students unable to attend classes in the fall. Before he ignored reports that a Russian intelligence unit had placed a bounty on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Before he moved to pull out of the World Health Organization during the worst pandemic in a century. Before he held rallies that most likely helped to spread the disease. Before he falsely accused MSNBC host and Post columnist Joe Scarborough of murdering a staff member. Before former national security adviser John Bolton revealed that Trump praised China’s prison camps for Uighurs and asked Chinese leader Xi Jinping to help him win reelection. But what makes Trump the worst president ever is not simply that he is colossally incompetent. It is that he is also thoroughly corrupt. It is hard to think of a single major decision he has made for the good of the country, rather than for his own advantage.
I'VE SEEN A FUTURE WITHOUT CARS, AND IT'S AMAZING: As coronavirus lockdowns crept across the globe this winter and spring, an unusual sound fell over the world’s metropolises: the hush of streets that were suddenly, blessedly free of cars. City dwellers reported hearing bird song, wind and the rustling of leaves. (Along with, in New York City, the intermittent screams of sirens.) You could smell the absence of cars, too. From New York to Los Angeles to New Delhi, air pollution plummeted, and the soupy, exhaust-choked haze over the world’s dirtiest cities lifted to reveal brilliant blue skies. Cars took a break from killing people, too. About 10 pedestrians die on New York City’s streets in an ordinary month. Under lockdown, the city went a record two months without a single pedestrian fatality. In California, vehicle collisions plummeted 50 percent, reducing accidents resulting in injuries or death by about 6,000 per month. Rather than stumble back into car dependency, cities can begin to undo their worst mistake: giving up so much of their land to the automobile. The pandemic should not stop us. There is little evidence that public transit is responsible for the spread of the coronavirus in New York or elsewhere; some cities with heavily used transit systems, including Hong Kong, have been able to avoid terrible tolls from the virus. What’s that you say? There aren’t enough buses in your city to avoid overcrowding, and they’re too slow, anyway? Pedestrian space is already hard to find? Well, right. That’s car dependency. And it’s exactly why cities need to plan for a future of fewer cars, a future in which owning an automobile, even an electric one, is neither the only way nor the best way to get around town. Automobiles are not just dangerous and bad for the environment; they are also profoundly wasteful of the land around us, taking up way too much physical space to transport too few people. It’s geometry. In most American cities, wherever you look, you will see a landscape constructed primarily for the movement and storage of automobiles, not for the enjoyment of people: endless wide boulevards and freeways for cars to move swiftly; each road lined with parking spaces for cars at rest; retail establishments ringed with spots for cars; houses built around garages for cars; and a gas station, for cars to feed, on every other corner.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
JULIAN TORREY: VOTE TRAITOR TRUMP OUT OF OFFICE: I moved to Salisbury in 2004 because it had one of the best VA medical centers in the state. While I have been thanked for my time in the service to my country, I am appalled by the fact that myself and the other vets are hated because we are all anti-fascists (the terrorists that our president claims all ANTIFA are). He even claims that the Russian bounty on American and coalition troops in Afghanistan is a hoax. It is time to vote this traitor and his fellow supporters out of office. Remember that he hates a military that fights dictators because he wants to become one. The Republicans in Congress are helping him.
HARRIET GLASSMAN: COME ON, TAR HEELS: I’ve lived in North Carolina during some of the worst hurricanes but always people came together to do what was necessary to rebuild and look out for one another. I’m asking that the people of this great state put their differences aside and do what’s necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19. Wearing a mask, washing your hands and keeping your distance is not asking too much. There is no room for bickering, lawsuits, party politics or tying peoples hands from taking steps to protect us. People are suffering with unemployment, a lack of business, and not being able to be with loved ones. Come on, Tar Heels, we’re better than that. The sooner we work for the common good, the sooner we will be able to lead a more normal life. I want to especially implore the younger population to do what it takes to not spread this to someone more vulnerable
ANDREA CHASE: MOVE THE STATUE AND LET OLD SORES HEAL: From a copy of The Alamance Gleaner dated May 28, 1914, in which the dedication ceremony speeches for the statue were printed, there is an introductory speech to the main speaker, Major London, by Colonel Long who opens with the following statement: “It is well for us now and then to turn aside from the duties of daily life, and together celebrate some great event in which we all have a common interest: to recall the achievements of the great and good of our own race and blood, and speak some word, perform some act, or direct some memorial which will keep fresh in our memories services, sacrifices, and events that ought not to be forgotten.” The purpose of the statue is clearly stated as celebrating a particular race. In the presentation, Mrs. E.C. Murray, president of the Graham Chapter UDC, said: “May this monument stand as an object lesson to future generations...” If moved to a more appropriate setting, this monument could serve to be a remembrance of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for what they believed to be right at the time. Today, many citizens of Alamance County now look to their elected officials to include all citizens of Alamance County as being in their care and bound to in civic duty. As General Lee wisely counseled, it is better to let the wounds heal rather than to keep open sores, and it is the duty of all to re-establish peace and harmony.