Letters to The Editor 07-08-20

Published 9:04 pm Tuesday, July 7, 2020

No evidence of systemic racism

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

In his July 1 letter “Monument proposal insufficient,” Rev. Dr. Lilton J. Marks says this nation has been covering up systemic racism for over 400 years.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Systemic refers to something that is spread throughout society as a whole. Sadly there is and will always be vestiges of bias, negative stereotypes and racism by all ethnic groups toward other ethnic groups, but these do not amount to systemic racism today. Society as a whole does not support these views.

I was born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I’m not partial to Confederate monuments, but doesn’t their complete removal amount to a coverup of once systemic racism? History, both good and bad, is something to be learned from.

Dr. Marks says, “Though individuals and groups of whites might say, ‘I didn’t do it; slavery was not my/their fault,’ it was their ancestors’ fault … .” While there is no denying that statement for some, there seems to be willful amnesia on the role Africans played in slavery as “it was the Africans themselves who were enslaving their fellow Africans, sending them to the coast to be shipped outside,” says researcher Akosua Perbi of the University of Ghana.

Dr. Marks says African Americans are still denied basic human rights and the liberty and justice for all as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. For a man of such accomplishment and stature to say this country denies any citizen basic human rights and liberty and justice seems contradictory.

According to the Fellowship UCC website, Rev. Marks has two associate degrees, a Bachelor of Science, three master’s degrees and a Doctor of Ministry degree. He is also a highly decorated Army colonel. As a 24-year Navy veteran, I proudly salute Col. Marks and sincerely thank him for his service to better this nation.

Joe Naneville



Proud of his hometown

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

As I read the July 1 edition, it made me proud of my little hometown.

Although I was raised on a farm in Carrollton, Smithfield is my town. I was proud of the recent march and its cause, which I support.

Even more important was my friend John Edwards’ comments (“Young protesters did Smithfield proud”) about how important it is for citizens to exercise the constitutional rights of assembly and redress (protest). This is especially during our Independence Day celebration of the freedom we have under our Constitution. The words of the editor (“Independence Day reminds of nation’s founding principles”) to stay diligent in their protection was also valuable and timely.

I do take issue with a letter that was published in that same edition (“PC Police wage war”) blaming our governor for giving localities the right to move Confederate statues. Under our state Constitution, our elected representatives in the House of Delegates and Senate, elected by a majority of voters, passed the law, and the governor, also elected by a majority of voters, signed it into law. I know it is hard to be in the minority — ask the African Americans in your community — but that is how democracy works.

I do believe, though, that those who oppose the movement of these statues are on the wrong side of history. It is time to recognize how our actions affect the rights and lives of our fellow citizens, neighbors and taxpayers.

Rob Turner



Let voters decide monument’s fate

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

Concerning recent letters in reference to the Isle of Wight Monument to Confederate Dead, I would like to clear up several misconceptions.

Under 18.2-1512 of the Virginia Code a war monument can ONLY be moved, removed and stored, covered or contextualized. It CAN NOT be altered in any way or destroyed.

Although had the Confederacy been victorious in the Civil War and the horrible institution of slavery would have continued, it is a complete falsehood that all Confederate soldiers fought for that institution. In every war, soldiers fight for different reasons. As in Vietnam, many fought not because they agreed with the war but because they were sent by their government to fight. Just as in the Civil War, no one asked or cared about their opinion of why the war was fought.

The Confederacy was the first to institute a draft and had three, covering all men 17 to 50. Because they knew they would be drafted and preferred to pick what unit they went with, many volunteered; many others were drafted. The fallacy that all Confederate soldiers excitedly volunteered to fight for the Confederacy simply is not true. Many fought because their government told them they had to.

Some believe they all owned enslaved people. Only a very small percentage of all people owned enslaved people, so this makes that an impossibility.

As for the accusation that the monument was erected in 1905 because of Jim Crow laws, research shows that the Union monuments were erected in the same time frame as Confederate ones. I have the erection dates of many that verify this. The South had barely money for food for decades after the war, much less to build monuments.

Yes, some Confederate States had very racist statements in their secession documents. Read the Lincoln-Douglas debates. I assure you, you will be shocked at what Lincoln said. He was also a racist like most people of his time. People of the distant past should never be judged by the standards of ours.

There is a fair solution to the future of the Confederate Monument to the Dead. The law provides that a voter referendum can be placed on the ballot to let the citizens decide. I say let the citizens vote in November. I will accept any outcome like every other good citizen should.

Volpe Boykin



County schools lack diversity

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

On June 5, I mailed a two-page letter to the Isle of Wight County School Board in accordance with new board meeting procedures during COVID-19 for the board clerk to read my concerns to the school board and the public. In violation of my First Amendment right, freedom of speech, the board chair decided not to have my letter read in public because of my stated concerns.

My letter stated what I believe are instances of incompetence and neglect of duty by the board, Superintendent Dr. Thornton and the board clerk. Their failing to read my comments in public only reinforced my concerns further.

My letter asked the following: 1.) What are the discipline measures that can be assessed by the school board in Dr. Thorton’s contract? 2.) Should board members resign from their position if they are unable to abide by all IWCS policies, state and federal laws, or if they are derelict in their duties? 3.) Who is responsible for documenting accurately in the school board minutes what is discussed in open sessions? 4) Who is responsible for assessing discipline measures to Dr. Thornton if he violates his contract provisions, state or federal laws, school board policy, etc.? 5) Is the board required to vote on all state contracts?

I asked Mrs. Carr if there’s a real issue of racism and inequality in our school system. Why is there only one minority out of 21 leadership positions in the Central Office staff? Why does Carrollton have two STEM teachers and Hardy zero? Other areas: All nine instructional coaches, nine Teacher of the Year winners, two student school board liaisons, 10 student leaders, two athletic directors … that’s 53 of 54 people, all white.

IWCS Board, do you know what equity and diversity mean? I respectfully ask Mrs. Valerie Butler, the local NAACP chapter president, to investigate this matter.

Thomas Finderson



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