Letters to the editor

Racism is racism, no matter when

This is in response to Michael Arrowood’s letter on Zeb Vance [“Zeb Vance: Indeed No Simple Man,” Feb. 9].

To propose the notion that Zeb Vance was not a racist because the dehumanization, enslavement and denial of rights to black people was the norm of his time is a clear attempt to help Mr. Arrowood sleep better at night. The fact is that racism is racism, no matter what time in history we live.

The Confederacy supported and fought for the institution of slavery [in order] to maintain a way of life that was based on the belief that dark-skinned people are less than human. Zeb Vance promoted and fought for laws that denied people rights based on the color of their skin and origins of their ancestry. That is racism in its purest form.

I adhere to the belief that no person is all bad or all good. I can believe that of the 40,000 North Carolinians who died fighting for the Confederacy, there were some decent human beings. However, the fact is that they died to keep slavery in place. They fought to keep laws in place that made black and brown people “property” of white men. I have heard the argument that very few slaves were owned in WNC, and few WNC men who died for the Confederacy actually owned slaves. The fact is that slavery was legal here; slaves were owned here, and even sold at Pack Square. Slavery was the basis for the Confederate way of life, and without slavery, the Confederacy would not have existed. To be proud of the Confederacy is to be proud of slavery and the dehumanization of black and brown people. Whatever “remarkable accomplishments” Zeb Vance made for this state, he did so only for the benefit of white men, and he worked to deny those benefits to black- and brown-skinned people.

I agree with Mr. Arrowood that many of the institutions in our country were founded on “white supremacist platforms.” I encourage you to watch the PBS special, “Slavery and the Making of America,” which shows that our great country would not be as wealthy as it is today had it not been for the legal slavery of black- and brown-skinned people.

Having participated in Building Bridges, which is a nine-week dialogue on race relations in our community, I have learned that racism goes far beyond the enslavement of people of color. Racism did not end with the Civil War, and it did not end with the civil rights movement of the 1960s. It may be less overt, but racism is alive and well in our community. Until white people — like Mr. Arrowood and myself — begin to face the facts that we have not only benefited from the color of our skin, but through those benefits we have also suppressed black people, our community and country cannot begin to heal. Please consider attending Building Bridges next fall. More information on Building Bridges is available at their Web site: www.buildingbridges-asheville.org.

— Dawn Marie Klug

Actions speak louder than race or sex

In response to Ken Blake’s letter [“Will the Real PC Party Please Stand Up,” Feb. 9] regarding the article about Gov. Vance [“Zeb Vance: No Simple Man,” Jan. 19], my problem is with his last paragraph.

I’m proud of any senator — Republican or Democrat — that had the courage (finally!) to speak up and oppose something that was wrong.

Condoleezza Rice is an African-American, a woman — so what? Those shouldn’t be the criteria for voting for or against her. For many citizens, including myself, Rice showed her lack of integrity and lack of respect for the American people by being one of the principal architects of the Iraq invasion as President Bush’s national security advisor. She shares blame for overstating the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.

Senators who voted against Rice’s confirmation as secretary of state know she’s wrong for the job and wrong for the American people. No one should be required to vote for Rice to prove they’re not a bigot or a misogynist.

— Karol Kavaya

Current district maps warp election outcome

A letter entitled “It’s Our Turn to Take Voting Seriously” [Feb. 2] interested me. Now we need to redistrict so the legislators in Raleigh will change our legislative districts to more truly reflect the number of votes each party received in the November 2004 election in this state. A majority of North Carolinians voted for a Republican majority in both chambers of the General Assembly. In the N.C. House of Representatives, Republican candidates received 1,490,695 votes statewide to the Democrats’ 1,370,038 votes. Republicans won 51 percent of the statewide vote to the Democrats’ 47 percent. In the N.C. Senate, Republicans garnered 1,565,132 votes statewide compared to 1,505,822 for the Democrats. This amounts to a 50 percent to 48 percent advantage for Republicans.

The loss of Republican seats is the result of a secretive redistricting process in late 2003. The General Assembly leadership did not allow any public comment on the redistricting plans, even keeping the proposals secret from many legislators until shortly before the vote. The result was unconstitutional maps that did not heed the decisions of the state Supreme Court, which issued clear instructions on how to draw legislative districts using neutral criteria.

— Joe L. Morgan

Unsolved mysteries of the day

There are several things I don’t understand and wish that someone would explain to me.

If four lanes on I-26 south and north of Asheville are sufficient, why are eight lanes needed through the city? Why do gays and lesbians find it necessary to tell everyone about their sexual orientation when nobody in their right mind gives a damn? What is so important that causes drivers to use cell phones while driving? If men weren’t supposed to have breasts, why do we have nipples?

World Wars I and II, the Korean War and Vietnam were fought under Democratic presidents. Our nation lost 615,000 military personnel in those wars. About 1,400 have died in Iraq and the left is criticizing President Bush. (Of course, any loss is tragic.) The left is pushing to bring our troops home from Iraq while we still have troops in South Korea, Germany and Japan. What’s the hurry?

Do Democrats have a short memory, a selective one, or are they just being hypocritical?

— Richard Rice

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