Honor those who helped build county

 

To the Editor:

I propose a monument to replace the Confederate Soldier statute at the Jackson County Courthouse.

The Courthouse was built because the county seat was moved from Webster to Sylva. Sylva was built because the railroad came through, bypassing Webster. The railroad was built by the labor of state convicts leased by the railroad. Several of those poor souls drowned chained together crossing the Tuckaseigee River to go dig the Dillsboro Tunnel.

Without the railroad, this area would not have developed and without the labor of these poor convicts, the railroad may not have reached this area when it did. Those nameless convicts were unceremoniously dumped in an unmarked grave. Isn’t it appropriate that we have a monument to honor some people who gave their lives to build this county instead of a monument to people who defend the barbaric practice of slavery in this county?

Gary Kirby,

Sylva

 

Speak out to preserve free speech

 

To the Editor:

Like many, I had high hopes for Western Carolina Chancellor Kelli Brown. I had thought that as a horsewoman of some renown, she would show some horse sense.

Unfortunately, her actions to expel the students (who appeared in videos that circulated on social media) or at least “encourage” students to withdraw (at this point it is unclear) over their protected speech shows that, sadly, WCU cannot in any real sense be considered a university. It does not matter if the students were officially given the boot or left before they were sanctioned. Student free speech has been trampled because universities have no business telling students either what they must say, or cannot say.

The U.S. Supreme Court has in numerous decisions affirmed the right of students in public universities to the full free speech protections of the First Amendment.

Kicking students out for being young and a bit clueless is not what we need from any university in North Carolina.

Was their speech reprehensible and offensive? No doubt. But that is why universities and the First Amendment exist. Government, especially public universities, has absolutely no business policing speech outside of a few narrowly and well defined areas. Using derogatory terms not directed at any specific person is not one of the areas where government at the federal or state level may restrict speech.

Universities exist to promote the free and unfettered exchange of ideas, dreams, visions and perspectives. Chancellor Brown’s acts serve to inhibit the speech of all at WCU, not just students. Will faculty shy away from controversial works because of a fear of reprisal? Will students choose other places to attend because of this? Looking over your shoulder in case the speech police are lurking is no way to be a student or faculty member, and does nothing to nurture the vigorous dialog needed to advance the truth.

There is an ongoing struggle to preserve free speech at our universities here in the U.S. I suggest you go to www.thefire.org to learn more about this struggle and the steps Chancellor Brown can take to move WCU towards being a real university, one that values free speech.

I hope that the students successfully sue for reinstatement, regardless of how they left WCU, and for damages for this egregious trampling of their First Amendment rights. WCU needs to do better to fulfill its potential as a true university.

Joseph Williams,

Webster

 

Projecting their misery on others

 

To the Editor:

It is truly a sad time in this country due to the profound dysfunction being manifested by many individuals. Specifically, there seems to be an epidemic of hedonism, narcissism, selfishness and lack of compassion and empathy.

It is apparent that there are many people in this country who have never learned to love, empathize or simply care for anyone outside themselves. It seems that many people are projecting their own misery onto others. It is incredible that discrimination due to color, gender, nationality and cultural background continues to exist in our country in an extremely pathological manner.

Having been brought up in a traditionally modest Hispanic household, I was never allowed to exhibit any type of discrimination toward other human beings. Actually, I always thought it was sinful to discriminate. My immediate family and I were born in America and we spoke fluent Spanish and English on a daily basis. The idea of being abusive to women in any way was considered one of the worst sins that could be committed. Part of my upbringing in the Catholic Church focused on love toward others and to be an example to others in showing kindness, warmth and humility.

There is an old Turkish proverb, “Fear an ignorant man more than a lion.” Quite often, some people see being gentle as a sign of weakness. Just the opposite is true. We need to learn how to combat evil behavior with good behavior. The Good Samaritan did not worry about the color, religion or nationality of the person he was helping. We all need to follow this example and just care for others despite the hate that is being fostered in this country. It is the only way to change the direction of this country.

Michael Gonzalez,

Sylva

 

Enough talk about equal justice

 

To the Editor:

A road sign says “Want Equal Justice? Vote for Democrats.”

Were the county commissioners Democrats who voted to keep Sylva Sam where it is over the objections of minorities in the county and the town of Sylva?

As Rachael Maddow says, “Don’t listen to what they say, watch what they do.”

If you are a Democrat or anyone else in our county, please send a letter to the editor telling what you have done or are doing to eliminate barriers to racial justice.

By barriers I mean:

1. Bail or jail.

2. Overburdensome fines and fees.

3. Taking of personal property.

4. Long delays to sentencing.

5. Low paid public defenders paid by the offender.

6. Police who identify high risk areas that consist of African Americans.

7. Police who pull over persons of color for being persons of color.

8. Fees for performing public service.

9. School to prison pipeline.

Within this list are at least three amendments to the Bill of Rights that are being violated yet executed by this state.

Ron Robinson,

Sylva

 

Recognize the hurt some feel

 

To the Editor:

Those who oppose removing the Sylva Sam statue argue that such monuments haven’t hurt anyone.

Apparently, pain must be physical to be taken seriously. Citizens who describe the pain they feel from the presence of Confederate monuments in public spaces are often mocked and always ignored by those opposing removal. People have been saying for decades that they are hurting – this isn’t something new. In response they are told their feelings aren’t valid:

“It’s just a statue. You’re too easily offended. It’s not a symbol of hate. Get over it.” Just because you’re not hurt, it doesn’t mean no one is hurt.

Lisa Bacon,

Sylva

 

Memories of 1940 flood readily at hand

 

I have a ton… maybe two tons… of the Cullowhee bridge that was taken down by the 1940 Tuck flood.

Dr. A.K. Hinds (A.K. Hinds University Center on WCU campus) built and owned the house I have lived in for 45 years. He had large chunks of the rock and concrete foundation of the bridge hauled by mule and wagon from the river bed near the current Cullowhee/Tuck bridge up to the top of Buzzard’s Roost (above the Stillwell  Building, Memorial Stadium, Hunter Library) where he was constructing his new home in the fall and winter of 1940-41. The remains of the bridge were used to build steps and a sidewalk from the driveway to the front entrance of the house.

My wife and I purchased the house from Dr. Hinds’ family in 1975. It’s quite a conversation piece, and I pressure wash the steps and sidewalk every couple of years to keep it looking like the original pieces of the bridge. Those pieces of Cullowhee history make me feel like a native although I’ve been around here for only 60 of my 78 years.

Steve White,

Cullowhee