Letters to the editor – November 23rd, 2016

Published 9:10 pm Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Spread hate or kindness?

Editor, Smithfield Times

Thank you, John Edwards, for last week’s “Short Rows,” condemning hate speech. We have just come through the most brutalizing presidential campaign in my lifetime. One candidate, now president-elect, used hate speech and fear-mongering throughout his campaign to exploit people’s prejudices and very real frustrations. Sadly his election and one of his first appointments have empowered hate groups that represent the worst tendencies in our culture: racism, sexism, bigotry, anti-Semitism, and bullying.

More than ever we need to reach out to each other with kindness, respect for our differences, and civility. How we behave toward each other over these next four years will determine whether we continue as a democratic republic or sink into the political quagmire of fascism. The threat to our country does not come from ISIS or immigrants; it comes from within — from those among us whose only approach to problems is spreading hate, fear and violence rather than tolerance, understanding, and peaceful negotiation. We are all on this ship together, all members of the one human species, Homo Sapiens, on this planet, and we all bear responsibility for our immediate future and the long-term future of our country and life on Earth. 

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Mary Batten

Disappointed in column

Editor, Smithfield Times

I was very disappointed in the content of your usually very informative “In the Short Rows” last week. I especially look forward to reading this part of The Times because, as a recent “come hear” myself, but avid local history buff as you know, I enjoy reading and learning about Isle of Wight County’s recent past from one who lived it and who can express it very well.

But last week’s “short rows” was none of what is usually there and, unfortunately, was all about striking out at a citizen whom you disagreed with or perhaps just did not like.

My friend and compatriot Herb De Groft can be a bit caustic in his public remarks. But aren’t we all guilty of that at one time or another? Last week’s paper contained unfair invective against a citizen who has contributed much to our county. Herb is an expert on education matters, has been elected to the School Board because of that, is very active in veterans affairs as a member of both the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion, was an officer in the Isle of Citizens’ Association, has attended and spoke at numerous Board of Supervisor, Planning Commission and School Board meetings, takes principled stands on many public issues, has organized and lead many local patriotic events and last, but of course not least, is a retired US Marine Corps commissioned officer and Vietnam combat veteran.

I think the medium who “buys ink by the gallon and paper by the ton” must be much restrained when taking individual private citizens to task over perceived differences of opinion or conduct.  

“The Press” is the only private profession enshrined in our Constitution with all the rights and privileges that this entails. But along with all that comes, of course, the responsibility, especially for a newspaper that has an excellent and well-deserved reputation for reporting local news, to refrain from personal invective and attempted public shaming of an honest, well-meaning, sincere, dedicated and patriotic citizen. I hope you will consider publishing an apology to USMC Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Herbert Wilbur De Groft.

Albert Burckard

Signs of ‘olden days’?

Editor, Smithfield Times

After reading two articles in your paper last week I now have a much better understanding of why some of our citizen’s wanted to change the name of the Olden Days Event.

One was about the use of handwritten political signs possibly designed to intimidate voters at a predominantly African American polling place on Election Day. The other was highlighting a group that extols the history of the Confederacy.

Good riddance to these aspects of Olden Days!

Joe Puglisi

Objects but doesn’t ‘hate’

Editor, Smithfield Times

Anyone know that John and I have been/are friends, for decades? As editor, the power of the press/ink ownership is significant. Under the limitlessness of the 1st Amendment, however, we each have our freedom of expression rights. In using the word “hate” relative to my activism, John misses me by light years. This surprises me because I think I’ve expressed to him my failure to use the word or evince same by my actions (my opinion) as a person and as a citizen. Hate is self-destructive and not my bag.

Getting it correct is important, too, namely the anti-Hillary flyer entitled “Yup, She’s Crooked”, so aptly describing the most despicable candidate to be “our” President in modern times.

My colorblind disagreement with some past actions by Mr. Obama and his administration, I’ve never hid. The most competently incompetent Oval Office occupant in modern times receives my calls at the citizen’s White House hot-line regularly.

Semper Fidelis is what binds Marines together, thru thick and thin. One has to be a Marine to understand that motto’s binding meaning, across 241 years .

I think my actions were to the point, responsible and constructive in publically promoting, in my own way, the education of my fellow citizens in the process of selecting new leadership, whoever they might choose. For those it caused to give additional thought, good. For those who went on blindly bound to party, etc., at least I tried to get folks to “think before voting.” Washington said political parties could be the death of America. Darned if it hasn’t been in process for over 20 years. All citizens need to get involved in the process of government, if we expect government to serve us instead of us serving “the” government.

My friend, you did vote “thinkingly,” didn’t you? I think I did. Still a friend, with a significantly differing outlook/opinion on any number of issues. After all, if we all thought alike, then somebody is not thinking. May God continue to Bless “our” USA and her citizens.

PS: How many of our fellow citizens are going to take your “Rows” as a hateful political correctness-driven character assassination attempt of me, by you exercising your 1st Amendment right, that as a veteran I’ve defended your right to use, at will, as a newspaper editor? I hope not, for your sake going forward.

Herb De Groft

Many roads to hate

Editor, Smithfield Times

A letter writer to another newspaper said he doesn’t remember a time when white men have had to protest the denial of their human rights. I remember newsreels showing white men digging graves before being machine-gunned into the trenches. I remember, in middle school, saying segregation was misguided. That earned me an “n-lover” name. Now I can’t vote Trump without “showing my true colors.”

When Bill Clinton brought sleaze to the White House, he showed his true colors. When Hillary said the White House left them broke and then bought two overpriced homes in exclusive neighborhoods, and provided the inheritance of an heiress to Chelsea, she showed her true colors. When Democrats were determined to recycle the Clintons, I did something I never thought possible. I voted Trump. 

People have a right to be proud of Obama, but they should acknowledge all those white voters who made his presidency possible. All presidents are criticized. All presidents suffer roadblocks. That letter writer said that, in 2016, hate and ignorance prevailed. I felt Democrats should not foist Hillary on me. Was that truly hateful? Am I ignorant? There are many roads to hate and violence, and the nursing of resentment is a road builder.

Linda Augusta King

A beautiful event

Editor, Smithfield Times

Recently my husband and I enjoyed a late lunch at a restaurant on North Main Street in Suffolk. When we entered, we saw a Grandmother and her Granddaughter, who appeared to be physically and mentally challenged. We were seated nearby and, although we couldn’t hear their words, the tone of their conversation was light and lively.

These folks left the restaurant just ahead of us. When they arrived at the ramp leading to their vehicle, parked in a handicapped spot, the young woman became frightened and she balked at going down the ramp. Her Grandmother tried to calm her and encourage her to go to their car, but the young woman knelt on the sidewalk and simply refused to move. As we walked to our car, we saw three young men approaching the woman and her Grandmother.

I have to admit it: my first reaction was to be fearful for these women. Before my husband or I could react, the largest of the three men went to the girl kneeling on the sidewalk and gently began to lift her and guide her toward her seat in the car. The other young men were close, ready to help, if needed. I can only say that it was a beautiful event to see.

At a time when we seem to focus on things that are less than pretty, I believe it is important to look for and to enjoy the good that’s all around us.

Molly Lundie

2016 blood donor success

Editor, Smithfield Times

The last and most successful Smithfield Community Blood Drive of the year was held on Thursday, Nov. 12. The Blood Drive had 107 donors sign in. The end results were 89 whole blood units and 18 double red cell units for an outstanding total of 107 units to the local Mid-Atlantic Region; 23 units above the goal of 84 units.

The Smithfield Community Blood Drive for the year collected 523 units. That is simply amazing, a true accomplish for our community’s donors. The bottom line is 1,569 lives in our region received “The Gift of Life” by the donors that come to our Community Blood Drive.

Special “thank you” to our Sponsor, Elaine and Jim Abicht and The Christmas Store for their generous contribution of collectable Pig Ornaments. A Yummy thank you to the Canteen Sponsor, the Johnny Barlow Sunday School Class of Smithfield Baptist Church. Thanks to the Smithfield Union Masonic Lodge #18 for setting up and taking down tables and chairs, and to Trinity United Methodist church for the use of their facilities.

A special thank you and Congratulations to the following first time donors: Lauren Hoy, Patricia Boyd, Lydia Wilson, Rebeckah Wilson and to Judy Sinclair, 3-gallon Goal Pin Award. A sincere thank you to each “Hero” from across the area (and you know who you are) who unselfishly took the time and rolled up their sleeves to donate the Gift of Life and a Big thank you to all the patrons, businesses, and organizations that supported the Community Blood Drive.

Now we all get to start it over again in 2017 with the next Community Blood Drive, always at Trinity United Methodist Church and always on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2017 from noon to 6 p.m. The Sponsor and supporting Canteen will be the Smithfield Women’s Club. We always have fun, seeing old friends and meeting new friends and the great food is always an award in itself; so set the date, join us and donate.

Blood to save lives is needed every two seconds in the United States and our own Mid-Atlantic Region uses 700 units a day. Again, thank you to all our heroes, who make our community proud by taking the time out of their day to donate the Gift of Life, for every unit of blood given will save three lives.

Willie Rountree

Career training

Editor, Smithfield Times

I was just reading the article “Schools pushing ahead with career training” and all I could think about was how glad I am that this is happening. With all of the jobs being deskilled lately, it is so important to start career training at an early age. Not only does it better prepare our youth for the future, but it also opens our youth’s minds to new possibilities and they can even discover a passion for something they previously knew nothing about. As Karl Marx said, “What makes us human is being able to pour ourselves into our work.”

Kassandra Wood