Reporting real life
I applaud Dick J. Reavis and this newspaper for his article "At half mast: Neo-Confederate Kirk Lyons on race, immigration and what could be his final flag case" (Aug. 12). He wrote with balance, perception, empathy and awareness of nuances and complexities (real life). Consequently, his report was fairer and more informative than most publications on these subjects that are often harmful, prejudicial diatribes.
I admire, and support with my small contributions, his litigation on behalf of citizens, usually those with minimal financial resources, whose liberties have been trampled. After all, the ACLU is also thus engaged!
I do not support some of his views. Indeed, I left the Sons of Confederate Veterans because of their recent extreme positions. I stand in brotherhood and membership with Morgan's Men Association, relatives of riders with the remarkable John Hunt Morgan, whose organization has maintained for more than a century a relationship with its Union regimental opponents. I support the Military Order of the Stars and Bars as a collateral descendant of a Confederate officer.
As a major antidote to all the misinformation, lack of historical knowledge and prejudice, I recommend a recent scholarly study of the history of Confederate symbols and a fine philosophical discussion of their role both here and abroad, yes, overseas: John M. Koski's The Confederate Battle Flag: America's Most Embattled Emblem.
William Rector Erwin Jr.
A dying breed
While Kirk Lyons makes a few good free speech arguments concerning what kids should be allowed to wear to school, he is ultimately another member of The League of Extraordinarily Bigoted Southern Men (an association whose former members include Jesse Helms and Jerry Falwell). ("At half mast: Neo-Confederate Kirk Lyons on race, immigration and what could be his final flag case," by Dick J. Reavis, Aug. 12.)
In your story, he states that he has to "make a living in a world that is increasingly hostile." Yet it is himself—along with others who carry his bigoted views on segregation ("egalitarianism is the sworn enemy of liberty"), immigration and his atrocious claim that he doesn't know if the Holocaust happened (might want to take a visit to the Holocaust Museum in D.C., Mr. Lyons, or at least read a history book)—who makes the world a much more hostile place than it needs to be.
When it comes down to it, befriending members of neo-Nazi groups who disguise themselves with "friendly" names such as the Church of Jesus Christ-Christian, but preach murderous bigotry and quote Adolf Hitler, doesn't do much to help credit any of Lyon's arguments, legal or otherwise. On the plus side, it is comforting to know that mean, old, racist men such as Lyons are the last of a dying breed.
As one of the main groups that has worked with Chapel Hill to shape the new clean elections system for this fall's campaign, Common Cause is disappointed that only two candidates have chosen to take part in the program ("Only two candidates participating in Chapel Hill's voter-owned elections," Aug. 12). While it's encouraging that no candidates have been abusing the system, we had hoped that candidates would have exhibited a bit more open-mindedness toward joining the program.
What could have been a campaign about engaging voters, as Penny Rich has done and Mark Kleinschmidt is doing, is instead about the same old politics as usual: running on name recognition, campaign signs, fundraising letters and maybe a radio ad or two.
Even more disappointing, it seems that the candidates (particularly the incumbents) don't see the transformational impact of amassing small-dollar donors and running with clean, public money. The program is supposed to be about accountability, citizen-focused campaigning and a level playing field. Instead, candidates seem content to talk about their theoretical support for the concept, while refusing to make the modest sacrifices and time commitment necessary to take part in the actual program that they helped create.
Perhaps the 2011 candidates will show a little bit more political courage and imagination.
Josh Glasser, Common Cause North Carolina
Matt Saldaña's coverage of the Green Party National Meeting irritated me greatly ("The Green Party tries to find its center," July 29). It seemed clear that he deliberately wanted to portray the Greens and Cynthia McKinney as loony, extreme radicals, and even anti-Semitic. It is becoming a well-honed tactic of the establishment media to characterize any real left (not liberal) opposition as somehow "crazy," "weird" or "out-of-touch" when they dare not debate the substantive ideological issues because they know they will lose.
Saldaña made much of McKinney's remarks about Israel and her treatment at the hands of the Israeli authorities, mocking her by quoting what Saldaña no doubt considers to be outlandish hyperbole. The ship delivering humanitarian supplies to Gaza, Spirit of Humanity, was boarded in international waters and the crew was arrested and imprisoned for a week. Israel's interception of a humanitarian mission in international waters was illegal and immoral, as is its blockade of Gaza. It is perfectly understandable that McKinney would still be upset and focused on this recent event. As we can see, the American media, including the Independent Weekly, will tolerate NO criticism of Israel, no matter what. It should by now be completely uncontroversial that the state of Israel is a monstrous client-state of the even more monstrous U.S. Empire. Check out the writings of world-renowned MIT scholar Noam Chomsky for more details.
As for the implication that the Green Party should "find its center" in order to connect with the American people, I say that the American people need to come over much further to the left to meet the Green Party. The challenge for the Greens is to cut through the corporate media haze and find a way to get their "extreme" (in a good way) alternative anti-war, anti-corporate, anti-capitalist message across. Much of the rest of the world is beginning to get it. It's time for Americans to wake up as well.
The annual "Dog Days of Summer" is always a bittersweet read for me (cover story, Aug. 5). I volunteer with the Goathouse Refuge (www.goathouserefuge.org), a no-kill sanctuary for homeless cats near Pittsboro, founded by Italian-born potter and sculptor Siglinda Scarpa. The 150-plus resident cats are free to roam among the volunteers and artists in a three-acre, cat-safe enclosure. I do meet-and-greets with visitors to the Refuge and enjoy helping potential adopters choose the perfect new companion(s) to add to their family.
A visitor recently asked me, "What's the most common type of cat here?" In my opinion, the answer is black and black-and-white cats. Petfinder.com designated Aug. 12 as "Adopt A Less-Adoptable Pet Day," and while many of these beautiful black beauties are friendly, kind and highly adoptable, I believe they fall into the "less adoptable" category because they are so often overlooked. The stories of Prince, Hershey, and Desmond and Morley are all too common, and I encourage Indy readers to consider opening their hearts and homes to a new "less adoptable" friend.
There are also numerous options for those who want to help but are allergic or already have a houseful. The Refuge offers a "Coffee Cats" sponsorship program: For what you spend on your monthly coffee habit, you can provide food and veterinary care to the cat of your choice. A benefit concert for the Refuge featuring local group Tres Chicas will be held at the Cat's Cradle on Aug. 21. And of course, we are always looking for volunteers to lend a hand. The rewards of adoption are hundredfold.