To the Editor:
It is very disappointing that a clear and unequivocal condemnation of the KKK, American Nazis and the companion white supremacist movements — truly the focal point of events in Charlottesville — is not the starting point of every conversation on the monuments issues.
The monuments issues are deserving of public discourse, but this conversation must be based on a 100 percent explicit universal rejection of these odious movements. Their adherents and supporters must understand that there is absolutely no place anywhere in the American political dialogue for their beliefs. On this, there are no two sides. This is about who we are morally as a people.
Building on this foundation, we can have a respectful public discussion on the monuments issues. Our political and community leaders at every level should be just that — leaders —with the courage to offer and discuss ideas leading to dialogue and solutions, not just slogans, and with the ability to listen carefully to views articulated within the broad mainstream of who we are as a people.
We have the same duties as citizens. Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, has stepped forward with proposals for North Carolina that deserve serious consideration. They include providing our N.C. communities with the ability to conduct their own dialogue and make their own decisions.
Within the broad mainstream, we will not succeed by trying to shout each other down, verbally or in print. Likewise, we will not succeed with language equating each other with Hitler’s Nazis, Mao’s Red Guard, Soviet Leninists and ISIS terrorists, comparisons that are especially offensive to millions who were genuinely persecuted or worse by these regimes. Not incidentally, those personally offended also include many among us who lost family members along the way. We will not succeed by charging each other with trying to change history. When it comes to addressing and solving problems, we can do better than that.
The American artist Norman Rockwell made a wonderful contribution to American life by picturing who we are as a people. His illustrations are especially timely now and perhaps it would serve all of us well to look at them now.
Cashiers and Washington, D.C.