At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.

Facts, compassion are important

To the Editor:

Humanity has a universal propensity for lies and distortions, and Trump-supporting extremists ruled by reality-free ideas are front and center in the public view, as events in D.C. show. But the truth is that we are all prone to fantastical intellectual views that confirm our entrenched internal biases, ideas that identify the bad and evil guys over there and the good guys that we hang out with.

Sixty years ago, I often witnessed the denigration and deliberate demeaning of Black people, and my young eyes did not miss the sadistic pleasure that ordinary white folks were deriving from this barbaric activity. No one today with access to the internet or a television believes society has eliminated all such behavior and the attitudes that support it. Mostly racism has gone underground, out of view, waiting to rear its ugly head when allowed. In these and many other societal structures that are destructive and non-nonsensical, substantial lies are involved, like claims of racial or cultural superiority. The same kind of deceit is involved in no end of other obscene societal events, like the giving of tax breaks a few years ago to the wealthy while masses of poor folks cannot both pay the rent and feed their children.

On Jan. 6, the same kind of detachment from obvious reality was on prominent display by masses of Trump followers, including our local Rep. Madison Cawthorn, who actively endorsed and repeated the brain-dead, dangerous claims of election stealing and promptings to riot by an obviously mentally deranged man.

There is only one way out of the morass of indecency and delusion that has taken over the Trumpian wing of the Republican Party, and that lies in emphatic attention to the twin demands of truth and suffering. The first is obvious; no debate or deliberative process can yield useful and lasting benefit if it fails to start and proceed with ideas that accurately reflect reality. The second provides the point of why we deliberate at all. If our efforts are not to address real and common suffering, then the debate is just a bunch of hot air being expelled to bolster the coffers and reputations of ego-driven buffoons that do not actually represent the electorate, and we will continue to provide the good life for a thinner and increasingly isolated wealth class.

The truth is that the wealthy do not need our help, but poor folks clearly do. The middle class is getting squeezed, and that has to stop. Mentally and emotionally unbalanced folks often end up in jail rather than in treatment, which is a pox on the individual and a burden on everyone else. Minority citizens are the ones that need to worry about racial profiling, excessive incarceration and suspicious police, not white people. Corporations do not need protection from nature, but rivers and the air we breathe needs to be protected from them.

And there are many other inequities that deserve our best efforts to eliminate them. We are wasting our time and limited resources propping up that which is already substantial and secure.

At the dawn of the Biden/Harris era, I hope that we can continue a national conversation and debate on the basis of a respect for the truth, and the needs of those among us with less than a fair shot of life. Is that not why we created a country and maintain a government in the first place? And if it is not, then why bother entertaining democratic ideals at all? What would be the point of all this noisy effort and astronomical expense?

Rick Wirth

Bryson City

Go to top