Letters To The Editor 1/20/2019

January 20, 2019

Hate ascending

Editor: My great-grandparents immigrated to America from Poland, seeking a better life for themselves and their family.

They left behind poverty, oppression and hunger in time to escape the horrors of Nazism. I am thankful they did because my family and I would not be here today otherwise.

They barely spoke a word of English but were welcomed with open arms to our great country, as evidenced by the Statue of Liberty. Yes, they entered the country legally, but the rules were much different then. Coal barons needed cheap labor provided by immigrants in order to fill their pockets with money. It accumulated one back-breaking shovelful of coal at a time. When a miner died an agonizing death from black lung, as my grandfathers did, there were lots more where they came from.

When I see the Central American refugees on the news each night, I’m reminded of the horrible conditions my ancestors fled a century ago.

Sadly, some Americans lucky enough to win the birth lottery shout, “Keep them out,” in reference to what they consider dangerous men, women and children who are viewed as terrorists, murderers and rapists. But if we take a good look in the mirror, we could see that the Oklahoma City bombing, countless mass murders at our schools, workplaces, concerts, theaters, churches and synagogues were perpetrated almost entirely by native-born white males who were full of hate.

In his historic 1987 West Berlin speech, President Ronald Reagan forcefully demanded of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, “Tear down this wall.” Now, we have a president from the same political party who demands we build a 2,000-mile wall here in America. I’m bewildered at how so many of his supporters can preach “love they neighbor” on Sunday and chant “build the wall” on Monday.

If that’s the country Americans want, then perhaps it’s time to tear down the Statue of Liberty first.




Civic obligation

Editor: We grow weary, discouraged and disgusted. But we can’t afford to give up on our job as citizens: Save our democracy.

We must persist as we witness the wishes and deeds of a deranged, childish autocrat who is in desperate need of having his way instead of providing for the needs of the American people. He envisions terrorists by the thousands invading our southern border. What of the tens of thousands of real people in this country who are in need because he closed the government?

President Trump’s desire for a wall has nothing to do with security. It is a fetish based on his lies — a monument to his xenophobia.

The Czech philosopher Erazim Kohak, who came to this nation with his family as a teenager when his country was overrun by Communist Russia, has a succinct description of democracy: “Democracy is about maturity, not pettiness; goodwill, not contentiousness; idealism, not greed.”

Maturity, goodwill and idealism are civic virtues. We Americans don’t have the market cornered on them but they are embedded in us — even though from time to time they compete with pettiness, contentiousness and greed. Dispensing with civic education and experiencing a time of gross inequalities makes us more vulnerable to cynicism. But we cannot afford cynicism any more than we can afford pessimism. It would mean relinquishing our responsibility to save our democracy.

We fought a war to make the world safer for democracy and survived a terrorist attack on our nation on Sept. 11, 2001. Now, we must use our power as citizens — the rule of law, our ingenuity and our commitment to equality and justice — to win this battle. The task is a civic one: to restore the politics that is at the very core of government of, for and by the people.




Library major asset

Editor: I’m an attorney in Westmoreland County and needed to know the population of Scranton in 1960 for a letter I was drafting.

My online research showed the population in 1950 and in 1990, but not in 1960. So, I called the Lackawanna County Library System and spoke to a gentleman in the reference department. He took my name and number and called me back within five minutes with the answer.

From my perspective, as someone who does not live in your town, I think your community is incredibly lucky to have such amazing resources like the library system and the researcher who helped me. By the way, the population of Scranton in 1960 was 111,443.



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