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Letter: Recent letters, column take different views on how we learn tolerance
Josh McCall addresses a crowd at the Midtown Greenway on Aug. 16, 2017, following a solidarity march against racism and bigotry that began in Roosevelt Square in Gainesville. - photo by Scott Rogers

The juxtaposition of Jayne Bedingfield’s letter in Friday’s paper about generalization being “a mistake that is often made by children and the immature” with Catherine Rampell’s column that engages in egregious generalizations prompted me to write and object to Rampell’s approach to the complex problems we face not only here but around the world.

I am a 72-year-old white Protestant woman who grew up in Atlanta. I recently attended a production of “The Temple Bombing” recounting the bombing of the Jewish Temple in Atlanta in 1958 and brought back all the pain and suffering of those times. I do not “wax nostalgic for the Jim Crow era,” as Rampell puts it. I remember the first time my parents took me to an integrated restaurant in downtown Atlanta. They did it on purpose to show me this was the way things should be.

Rather than recognizing “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23), Rampell seems to be engaging in a sort of self-salvation. It appears she thinks if she can portray all “those” people as bad and thereby make it clear to herself and the world she is not like “those” people, then she will have proven she is a good person.

It is not that simple. As Star Parker in her column and President Donald Trump (as well as a New York Times reporter) pointed out, there was a collision of hatred and violence from both sides in Charlottesville. The president’s reference to “fine people” from both sides was not to those who came to chant hateful mantras or those from Antifa who came to fight white supremacists, but to protesters on both sides who wished to make their positions known in a peaceful manner. The violent approach to problem-solving from both left and right did not give them a chance.

I did not see in Parker’s column where she said that it was the “black left” who initiated the movement to remove the statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville. However, I can see how Doug Henry might infer that from the way her column was written. Nonetheless, unlike Rampell, who resorted to stereotyping, Parker backed up her points with specific instances such as the omission of Clarence Thomas and Condeleezza Rice from the National Museum of African-American History and Culture.

In comparison to Rampell, Parker’s column appeared well-reasoned, as did much of Mr. Henry’s response. He made several points I thought were well-taken which made me think more thoroughly about Parker’s column. Since her column initiated a thoughtful exchange of ideas, I do not agree it should be removed from the paper.

On the other hand, Rampell’s column is less likely to provoke thoughtful self-examination and more likely to promote self-congratulation among those who have deemed themselves “good.” Rampell does not seem to realize “the use of hatred to mobilize ... works well (because) it exploits the unwillingness of individuals ... to confront life’s ambiguities and inconsistencies and still move forward constructively,” rather than destructively. This was, to me, the most important point Parker made in her column.

Frances Fite


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