We'll begin this week with Ryan Cummings, a local leader with the Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit that seeks to protect children from gun violence, who writes: "We have had far too many moments of silence since Sandy Hook. Our children and community deserve real action to stop the epidemic of gun violence. We're not alone, and we're not helpless. There are many seemingly simple, yet powerful things we can do today!
"More and more of our neighbors are uniting to bring the change we need. The phones in Congress are ringing off the hook with calls for commonsense gun reform, peaceful rallies are growing in numbers in cities across the country, and families and friends are gathering together in their own living rooms to talk about bringing violence prevention programs to their schools. There is reason to have hope that we can prevent gun violence before it happens through sensible gun safety laws and programs in our schools and communities that help us identify the signs before a shooting happens and intervene.
"To keep this hope alive and bring the change we need, I am asking everyone to take two simple actions today. First, call your member of Congress today and ask that he or she support gun violence prevention legislation to keep guns out of dangerous hands. Secondly, make the promise at SandyHookPromise.org and help bring Sandy Hook Promise's no-cost, violence prevention programs to our schools and community."
Lawrence Landerman, a "dues-paying People's Alliance member and lifelong left-wing loudmouth," writes to commend Erica Hellerstein for a recent piece on Libertarian state House candidate Robyn Pegram, which he calls a "fair-minded article rather than a put-down or demonization. You should do the same for some Trump supporters in the area. Having been happily married for the past eighteen years into a family of rural blue-collar mostly Trump voters, I believe you will be able to offer your readers some good news and some bad news. On the one hand, you will find them to be no more hateful or stupid than the rest of us. On the other, you will find them to be no less so."
Joe Swain Jr. responds to comments in last week's Backtalk about the Durham Confederate monument, which "make me wonder if there are people uncomfortable with either side. I am not a 'Confederate sympathizer'—I am glad we lost the Civil War (but note, it is 'we' who lost). Am I unique, or do people like me just not speak out?
"Some of the points made in Backtalk are valid. Timothy Simpson is right when he notes that some communities were devastated by the loss of almost all their young men. Honoring those who make this sacrifice is what people do. Greg Pearson is right when he points out the timing of memorials is often several decades after the fact; indeed, Northern towns were commissioning statues at the same time. He is also right that the KKK of the twentieth century was a national movement. And Gordon1 is right that the money for memorials was raised from the people of a community.
"But while I agree with these points, I can't endorse calling people who oppose Confederate memorials 'trash', 'thugs,' and 'cowards.' I don't think that slavery and Jim Crow are the totality of the heritage of the South, but they are an undeniable part of our heritage, and the protesters are right to call that to our attention.
"As for the memorials from the Civil War and its aftermath, I don't want to destroy them, but I don't want to leave them just as they are. They reflect a context of the racial divide that stains our history, and it is appropriate to amend them with the sentiments of our changing values. I personally would love to see every Confederate monument augmented by a quote from General Grant: acknowledging brave men 'who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought.'"