Letters to The Editor 07-01-20

Published 9:59 pm Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Monument proposal insufficient, he says

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

I wish to commend Mr. Albert Burckhardt (“A compromise on monument,” June 24) on his attempting a compromise for the Confederate monument at the IOW Courthouse circle. The suggested compromise is not sufficient.

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This entire monument, to include the base, must be removed. Covering it up will still remind both the ones who praise the monument the dead it represents and the ones who resent the monument for the atrocities it represents. The monument represents the Confederates, who were for preserving slavery in the South. To just cover up portions will be the same as this nation covering up systemic racism for over 400 years. No plaques or word changes will suffice if the monument remains on county property.

Slavery is the basis for continued systemic racism. In slavery our African American forefathers and foremothers endured abuse, murder, rape, lynching, beatings and imprisonment, because of the color of their skin. They worked in the fields in the South as slaves unpaid, disrespected, lynched, raped, sold as chattel property. This monument serves the Confederate oppressive symbol of slavery and all of the atrocities that went on. This monument also continues to represent and influence the atrocities that are occurring on people of color, especially African Americans, today.

Though individuals and groups of whites might say, “I didn’t do it; slavery was not my/their fault,” it was their ancestors’ fault ― the same ancestors that they want to hold up and praise in remembrances through the many Confederate statues and monuments around this country and in the state of Virginia. They want to hold up and praise their forefathers but ignore and refuse to condemn them for the atrocities that they performed in the Army of the Confederacy.

African Americans (Blacks) have worked, invented and produced for this nation to be wealthy and strong, have fought its wars for this nation to be free and are still denied basic human rights and the liberty and justice for all as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Now, I realize that there will be those who will deny the fact that the Civil War was about slavery. I say to them that the Civil War was about Southern economics and Southern economics depended solely on slaves as chattel property. I recommend the reading of Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens’ Cornerstone Speech made in Savannah, Georgia on March 21, 1861, just three weeks before the start of the Civil War on April 12, 1861, when Confederate forces attacked Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. (ref: battlefieds.org/learn}: Excerpt: “Our new government (the Confederacy} is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race (white} is his natural and normal condition.”

The monument must come down and we, all people, must honestly discuss and acknowledge the true history of our nation’s systemic racism!

Rev. Dr. Lilton J. Marks





Editor, Smithfield Times:

I read with amazement and amusement the writer’s suggestion for repurposing the “Johnny Reb” statue (“Some options for Johnny Reb,” June 17). Alas, the gentleman is too late. President Lincoln has run afoul of the PC Police and his statue has been or is planned to be pulled down by the enlightened citizens of Boston.

I got a second shock when I saw a statue of George Washington with a burning American flag perched on his shoulder being attacked in Portland, Oregon. Make no mistake, this is the same Abraham Lincoln who issued the Emancipation Proclamation, delivered the Gettysburg address and was referred to as “Father Abraham” in the black community.

One must conclude that this is an all-out cultural war and not just a conservative-liberal squabble. Our history, culture and iconic figures are under assault in a well thought out, centrally directed campaign. Many of the statues recently targeted have nothing to do with the Confederacy and include those of three former presidents whose behavior and policies were very supportive of the black community (Lincoln, Grant and T. Roosevelt).

Our governor, in his infinite wisdom, is proposing legislation to permit local communities to remove any war memorial at their discretion. Since he seems to have “rubber stamp” approval in the legislature it has or probably will be passed. I predict that before long some misguided individual will point out that since Germany was unfairly treated by the Treaty of Versailles and since Japan was disrespected by the 1922 Naval Disarmament Conference (limited to a ratio of three capital ships to five for Britain and the U.S.), “racist” America caused World War II and thus deserved to be attacked.

After serving all over the world (except Europe) as a professional military officer, I can state that the U.S. is the greatest country in the world, bar none, in spite of our flaws. The country and the majority of our citizens are generous, well intentioned people. This is not some systemically racist helhole.

 The Mafia has an expression they use during times of trouble, e.g., disputes with rival gangs. They call it “Going to the mattress.” I am prepared to ” go to the mattress” over this vital issue. My only regret is that at 83, I can no longer live to hear the measure of mental, moral and physical vigor the situation demands.

Roger Healey Jr.



Disappointed by photo, headline

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

On Wednesday, June 24, I opened my edition of The Smithfield Times excited to see coverage about the Juneteenth protest. Though I was happy it was on the front page, I found the article (“George Floyd protests come to Isle of Wight”) to be problematic.

There were about 100 attendees at the gathering, and a handful of white people. Black community members, leaders and even Sheriff James Clarke spoke at the event, but the photo chosen and people named in the photo were two white people, one of which was me. In fact, in the photo, you had to look past several unnamed black citizens to see an unfocused me.

My second issue was with the title of the article, which identified the protest as a “George Floyd Protest.” To simplify the Black Lives Matter movement to be about one incident, one man, completely misses the entire point. Systemic racism is what people are fighting; it is not simply about the wrongful murder of George Floyd. Not only that, but this particular protest was about and held on Juneteenth, and more specifically was being held in front of the Confederate Memorial.

Racism is not black and white, no pun intended. It is not only the man in the grocery store who calls someone an ugly name; it’s small choices made by people every day ― even if they are subconscious. This is about a change of thinking, and everyone needs to take part.

Jessica Packer Jackman




Newspaper had lapse in judgment

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

Recall the June 3 Times letter to the editor by Dr. Robert Singleterry (“Mask decree not based in science”) and the June 10 letter to the editor by Donald Williams PE (“Mask critic’s claims easily dismantled”). Both were about the pandemic and particularly masks.

This is about the June 17 editorial in the Times and by the Times titled “Not a medical doctor.” Here the Times says that Dr. preceding Robert Singleterry is not a medical doctor. The implication is clear. How presumptuous is the Times? Should not the Times also say Dr. is not for particle physics, chemistry or biology if such be the case, and what is PE? Does that need a disclaimer?

If there is a lapse in judgment it is The Smithfield Times’ lapse but not the kind of lapse for which the Times apologizes.

Ron Persky




Technology makes for lazy learning

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

Once again, the board spendaholics are twiddling thumbs and ringing their hands as they salivate over how much money they can spend in the cause of education. They look over drawings, ideas and options while drooling over dollar figures and how they will soon stick it to the man for the price tag.

Of course, as you read this letter, you, the citizen, are “the man.” And boy, you’re about to get it stuck in your posterior deeper than any enema known to mankind.

I’m so very glad that I graduated when I did from Isle of Wight schools. We had tough teachers who challenged us, made us really think and made us solid citizens who fully understood our nation’s roots,taught personal integrity, critical analysis and a good work ethic.

Today, kids are coddled with technology to the point they don’t even have to do much work. Last year I sat in a library and listened to a child doing math homework. Only she wasn’t doing any of it at all. With a smartphone, she used “Siri” to give her the answers to every question.

With tablets and laptops, kids don’t even have to write or learn to write. Of course, they don’t even know how to sign their name without cursive writing, making that future mortgage or car purchase really awkward one day. Spelling isn’t required either, since the “spell check” does it for them.

A few years ago, a brand new Smithfield graduate waited tables in town. Getting the bill, I was shocked to see that he couldn’t even spell the word coffee correctly. Technology makes for a lazy student.

Common core math is the worst abomination of all, as nobody understands it, nobody uses it and no workplace will tolerate it. As citizens, we deserve schools that teach more than just memorization of dates and places. The lack of critical thinking and teaching all sides of a matter is the reason why we have so much ignorance and incompetence about our own nation’s history now.

The county sets its sights on spending tens of millions of dollars that will burden citizens for generations to come, providing schools that look like monolithic museums, or the really insane idea of creating a nearly 4,000-student massive campus by adding on to SHS, impossible to control in the event of a tragedy.

America spends more money on education than any other nation on earth, and yet our schools are failing us and the kids. As we dazzle them with fancy laptops and overpriced buildings, we shortchange them in real skills that will sabotage them as adults.

David R. Lyons




Shameful violation of free speech

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

Highly valued in our Constitution is our Bill of Rights. Freedom of speech is essential to citizens, granting them the right to freely address all levels of government to include school administrations. 

Millions of my fellow veterans have raised their hand swearing to defend our Constitution’s principles with their lives, if necessary. For an educator to tell a graduating student his remarks are not uplifting enough, to rewrite them several times, smacks of a tyrant. Jefferson said, “When good men do nothing, tyrants will rule.” Now’s the time to act, I think. Do you?

Here you have a young man who’s experienced issues with the subject he wished to address, the need for mental health awareness on part of teachers and staff in IWCS. Obviously, he experienced its negative impact in the learning environment and wanted to heighten awareness among our education professionals.

Timely message, as a law goes into effect this month requiring Virginia’s 130-plus school systems to conduct training for teachers to help them deal with student mental health issues when they are manifested in their classroom. 

July 9th eve, at Westside School Board meeting location, the salutatorian is to receive an official apology.  From whom? The real “tyrant” or a “fall guy” who’s at least going back to his Director-Support Services job?

Worse part of all, though, the terrible example set for all students, tomorrow’s potential leaders. And the directed short-short version was not even shown at “virtual” graduation! Violating the free-speech rights of a young man who cared enough to want to impart a message for the benefit of all in IWCS, yet to come, was a dastardly tyrannical act. 

God bless Mathis for trying. Maybe he could be allowed to do his 555-word original for the board and all watching on July 9? Any bettors?

Herb De Groft



Paper should have had election info

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

Shame! Shame! Shame! The complete lack of advance coverage by the staff of The Smithfield Times of both the Democratic and Republican primary elections scheduled for June 23rd is inexplicable and inexcusable. 

These elections are important to the fabric of our nation and to its future as well. Not only was the omission of any news of the elections a travesty; the lack of any information on the candidates’ names, positions and experiences is a complete disservice to the population supposedly served by the Times.

Could the fact that the election date was conveniently the day before the next publication date of the Times be a coincidence?  Was this a result of ignorance on the part of the editor and staff, or a result of apathy, or some other motivation to keep the election information from the people? To make matters even worse, the only information about a change in polling location from Good Shepherd Catholic Church to the Smithfield Center was included way back on page 8 and only a result of an ad placed by the Isle of Wight County Registrar’s Office. At least someone was doing their job.

What is the purpose of The Smithfield Times?

John Brannis




United States’ business is war

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

When Trump leaves office and another insider is “elected” president, America will get back to business. And to coin a phrase, war is our business, our only business.

If our troops were being sent to fight and die for nothing, that would be one thing. But in the DVD “One Nation Under Trump,” Trump points out that they were sent to fight and die to make things worse and at considerable expense.

Years ago I heard on the radio that when the troops in the Middle East ETS’s came up they refused to let them out. They called that policy “Stop Loss,” which, as you may have guessed, is breach of contract when the military does it. So the military has become a real-life version of the Eagles song “Hotel California.” You can check in, but you can never leave.

So, if you are one of the men who has been and or are about to be sent to some foreign jungle or desert to defend the Constitution (pause for laughter and applause), I think it would be a fitting form of protest to have that song blasting from your barracks.

Jim P. McAdaragh