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Feedback 11/16 

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Cherry-picking the Constitution

Mr. Thomas Mangan wrote a long letter to the editor (Feedback, November 2) regarding his objection to Mary Anna Towler's article, "A soccer team gives us an example of patriotism (Urban Journal, October 19)." The team from the World of Inquiry School followed the example set by others by kneeling during the national anthem at a match in protest of the treatment of minorities.

I will not bore everyone with my life story, but I will say that I am actually from the South and was not just passing through. I am also an Army combat veteran of the Vietnam War, and I fought for the right of people to express themselves, as our Constitution guarantees.

The First Amendment guarantees an individual's right to express opinions and views, and to ensure a free exchange of ideas, even if the ideas are unpopular. It guarantees an individual's right to physically gather with a group of people to picket or protest. It also guarantees an individual's right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. These guarantees are clear.

You cannot pick and choose the Constitution, Mr. Mangan.

You cannot also fully explain away the racism still present in these verses of "The Star- Spangled Banner":

No refuge could save the hireling and slave

From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave,

And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand

Between their lov'd home and the war's desolation!

"Freemen" in those days meant free white men, not even including women.

I abhor Mr. Mangan's version of patriotism. He should, as we all should, support and defend the Constitution of the United States, even the parts with which we disagree.


Reality missing from protest criticism

Thomas Mangan sees the world perfectly through his own eyes and wonders why others do not. Perhaps what Mr. Mangan saw in the South during what he refers to as the "segregation era" is what these young athletes see in Rochester today.

Statistics reveal glaring inequities in education and access to career training and employment. The stigma of racial bias and violence resulting from hopelessness and despair is impossible to deny.

One wonders whether the way Mr. Mangan views his upbringing in the South Bronx, where race "didn't mean a thing," as the way his black and brown classmates would remember it or see it today.

He could demonstrate real courage by stepping back from his eagerness to lecture and engage in a conversation with these brave young men and listen, really listen to better understand why they take to the athletic field to make visible what those outside their reality refuse to acknowledge or face. Sports is one of the few avenues remaining where our segregated lives come together under the illusion of not seeing race.

Who knows? Mr. Mangan might decide to champion their cause and widen his understanding of what it means to be a true patriot.


End Citizens United

On January 21, 2010, the US Supreme Court made a ruling that is known as "Citizens United." It allows for unlimited donations from individuals and foreign entities that can be anonymous.

As it stands, it could lead to great corruption. Imagine, our government strongly shaped by anonymous donors.

After John Paul Stevens, the Supreme Court justice, retired on June 29, 2010, he said in a subsequent 60 Minutes interview that he regretted the Citizens United decision.

To paraphrase the Gettysburg Address, we might have a future government of the Super PAC's, by the Super PAC's, and for the Super PAC's.

This ruling needs to be revoked!

Winston Churchill said, "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing, after they've tried everything else." Let's hope so!


Lack of involvement is disheartening

Why was voter turnout across the country and in New York so low? Only 45 percent of people registered voted in the presidential election, and only 28 percent voted in local elections. Where are these missing people?

Have they moved? Are they in college? Did they go to a nursing home or pass away? Did they stay home because they didn't like the candidates, or are they exercising their right not to vote?

I was an election inspector this year and saw people who were only voting in the presidential race. Some asked who to vote for. At the voting booth is not the time to ask those questions, and we cannot tell you how to vote; it's electioneering. You have to inform yourself or flip a coin.

This is a failure of either the voter or the systems in place to educate. The board of elections in every county has a ballot in your district to preview. In this day and age of Google, you should be ashamed to walk in the door uninformed. It is disheartening.

Younger people need to join their local party committees. Moms and dads need to get their children involved. I pushed a double stroller and collected signatures from my neighbors. Volunteer and you will learn so much. Register voters with the League of Women Voters, who are praying for young volunteers. Change happens all year and improves with more involvement.

The World War II generation and the boomers are very civic-minded, but the baton has to pass. I know this because I lead a town democratic committee because no one else wanted to. Older volunteers are tired. Opportunities to lead are there.

I was shocked by Trump's win, and by Joe Errigo's win in Monroe County. This district voted for someone who made racist comments. Come on, that is sad. The local races affect you more with road repairs, snow removal, bridge repairs, job creation, and how your local property taxes are spent.

And to the Bernie or Bust people: pour your passion into education and activism. Join a party that fits you best, and volunteer. Live your values with volunteerism.

We need open primaries in New York to engage more people, too.

People complain, but if you are not more involved in the process than voting every four years, you're cheating those who do pay attention.


Brava to JCC for open captions

We had the pleasure of seeing JCC's first open-captioned production ("Church & State") at CenterStage on October 23. Open captions are written displays of the script shown on a screen on one side of the stage. The captions flowed synchronously with the actors' speech. Sitting in one section of the theater, we could read and hear the play simultaneously.

CenterStage has collaborated with Geva (which offers open captions) in making them available to theatergoers who might have difficulty understanding dialog from the stage.

Broadening accessibility for theatergoers with hearing loss benefits both the theaters and people who otherwise find it stressful to enjoy plays. As members of Hearing Loss Association of America Rochester Chapter Inc., we applaud another Rochester theater which has added open captions to its offerings.




President-elect Trump

People vote for someone who is like them or who has qualities they'd like to have. The results just show that the worst of America won. The racism, misogyny, and hate were all just sitting there in the deepest guts of the country until Drumpf came along like an emetic and it all came pouring out.


Trump DID not win by a landslide. In fact, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. It's just that Trump won the Electoral College. In reality, more people voted for Clinton. Unfortunately, we lost the House and the Senate, which doesn't allow us to have much leverage. The midterms are going to be more important than ever.


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