The Macon County News letters page is a public forum open to a wide variety of opinions. Letters are neither accepted nor rejected on the basis of the opinions expressed. Writers are asked to refrain from personal attacks against individuals or businesses. Letters are not necessarily reflective of the opinions of the publisher, editor or staff of The Macon County News.
What has happened to us?
Late last year I had decided to give up writing letters to the editor. The rancor and ad hominem attacks of recent letters has exhausted me, maybe you too.
What has happened to us?
Prior to the 2016 election, when it came to politics, members of different political parties simply agreed to disagree. However, back then, we all also agreed on mostly the same facts. Now, we only look for facts that support our opinions. We call people who disagree with us “traitors” and “bad people.” We have decided that all those “other people” must be evil, ignorant, stupid, fascist, socialist, communist liars.
Why has this happened to us?
Some blame goes to the way social media platforms and certain news outlets facilitate tribalism by making it easy to pick sides. We tend to only talk with the members of our own tribe. We demonize the other tribes. We look only for facts that support our opinions. We no longer listen to what the other side says, we only talk among ourselves, only to the people that already hold our opinions. We have decided we cannot learn anything from many of our neighbors anymore.
In my previous letters, I made an honest effort to support my opinions with facts I have myself researched, from original sources. Many times I have used footnoted attributions for these facts which I have gathered from multiple sources. I try to use common sense when considering the validity of these facts and forming my opinions.
For example, common sense tells me that if Medicare for All is implemented, our taxes will go up, maybe a lot, there is no disagreement on this. On the other hand, our medical expenses will be reduced to the same levels members already pay on the current Medicare plan, and that may offset the tax increases. The operative word here is may. I am on Medicare. It is a fairly good system that can administer health care provider reimbursement payments cheaper and fairer than for-profit insurance companies can. However, I, for one don’t think Medicare For All will be implemented in the near future because of the tremendous amount of infrastructure planning needed to happen first. Current Medicare payments amounts are just not enough to keep rural hospitals open if Medicare for All is implemented and if reimbursement amounts are not adjusted upwards. We need to solve this problem before we expand Medicare eligibility.
Sometimes knowing the truth about what is happening in our government is not easy. For example, a recent letter claimed that the Democrats held secret hearings regarding corruption in the Executive Branch, and that the Democrats prevented Republicans from participating in these hearings. To understand the veracity of this claim, I went to the US.GOV website to try to understand some facts about these hearings. What I learned is that these hearings were the combined effort of three Congressional House committees: Judicial, Foreign Affairs, and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. I followed links to the home pages of each of these three committees to find out more.
This was a little detective work, but I now know: 1) these meetings were held in the Congressional Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) which happens to be on a lower level of the Capitol Building; 2) SCIF regulations require that all recording or electronic devices be surrendered upon entering the SCIF; 3) any and all SCIF-held meetings are restricted to invited persons; 4) these committee hearings were on the Congressional Calendars of all Committee members, which are accessed every day by every member of both parties; 5) all Committee members were dutifully expected to attend these hearings, including the Republican members; 6) there are 41 Republican committee members between all three committees, all of who were eligible to attend these hearings and were invited to these hearings by the Democrat Committee Chairpersons.
All that research was required to understand these facts, and to debunk the claim that the hearings were secret, were held a secret basement room, and that Republicans were barred from attending these hearings.
How can we return to a way to share our opinions without resorting to insults and personal attacks?
Until we agree on what the facts are, we will never be able to re-establish a dialogue that allows us to simply agree to disagree about our opinions. Researching the facts may require us to leave our information bubbles, our comfort zones. We should search out information from many sources, in the hopes of compiling corroborating evidence in support of our opinions. I, for one, am eager to return to real debates with my WNC neighbors about what makes good government. Who knows, I may learn something.
I wrote this letter to ask for more civility, more respect for each other when we share our opinions. Matthew 7:12 says, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” I try to keep this verse in mind when I am debating opinions. I hope you will too. Thanks,
John Barry – Franklin, N.C.
Lack of medical care to rape victims ‘appalling’
As a wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother and retired FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforecment) Special Agent, I am appalled beyond words.
A victim of a sexual crime of rape is requred to not only drive to Asheville for an examination but is required to pay $1,000 for a rape kit. This was reported in a recent newspaper article. [MCN – Feb. 20 “Partnerships struggling under HCA merger”]
Really, would your wife, mother, daughter, or sister report this crime knowing this?
This practice sets Macon County in the dark ages of victim advocacy.
Shame on Angel/Mission and HCA.
Barbara McLellan – Franklin, N.C.
Senator Schumer’s threats irresponsible
Calling for violence against the Supreme Court is the least of [Sen. Chuck] Schumer’s flaws. Schumer stood on the same stage and said it was okay and promoted the torturing and killing of innocent babies and that no one could stop them even up to the instant they are born. Murdering innocents is even more radical and disgusting than calling for violence against the SCOTUS [Supreme Court of the United States]. Future societies will look back in 100 years and wonder how the Democrats could be so barbaric and so against giving the most helpless among us even the most basic of human rights, which is life. Then they will look even further back in their past and see it was the same Democrats that fought a Civil War to be able to keep other groups of humans as slaves and treat them as their property. History will be justifiably harsh on the Democrats.
If we needed a pristine example of why justices are bestowed lifetime appointments and shielded from the intimidation tactics of unethical politicians, Sen. Chuck Schumer has now provided us with one. Speaking to pro-abortion protesters in front of the Supreme Court this week, the Senate minority leader threatened (there’s no other way to put it) two sitting justices with repercussions if they uphold a Louisiana law aimed at protecting babies who survive abortions. He said: “I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you, Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”
It’s possible that Schumer (who doesn’t have the slightest interest in protecting abortion survivors) can’t think of any good reason for hospital-admitting privileges for abortion providers, as the Louisiana law requires. But treating that as an “undue burden” is just an example of the Democrats’ abortion extremism. Threatening justices over the case is hysterical. This is an unprecedented attack on Supreme Court justices. You won’t be able to unearth an instance in modern history of a member of Congress threatening a justice (by name, no less) for ruling against his wishes.
Chief Justice John Roberts felt the need to release this statement: “Justices know that criticism comes with the territory, but threatening statements of this sort from the highest levels of government are not only inappropriate, they are dangerous. All members of the court will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter.”
Twelve senators, included our own Senator Thom Tillis, have appropriately sponsored a bill to censure Schumer for his rash threats against Kavanaugh and Gorsuch. If anything ever comes of these threats, Schumer should be held criminally responsible.
Ed Hill – Franklin, N.C.
Loyalty to Trump is a one-way street
I read with great delight the announcement of Mark Meadows new job. Chief of Staff to the president will be an exciting, drama-filled experience. If the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior, (and it is), then he is in for a challenging workplace to say the least. His talent for ingratiating himself with Individual 1 and his ability to grab at photo ops will be difficult to balance to his boss’s satisfaction.
I read that he and his lovely wife have attached themselves like limpets to the DC social scene and are enjoying all that the capitol can offer in the way of entertainment. The POLITICO article also says they are “keeping a place” in North Carolina while they move on to greener pastures. Good thinking! Ask poor old Mick Mulvaney how much he loves the idea of being “envoy to Northern Ireland.” (That’ll teach him to cough while his excellency is being interviewed). With Donald Trump, loyalty, while valued for obvious reasons, is definitely a one-way street and this as well as any other facet of the moral sense, is foreign to him. Having a fallback home is essential, Mark.
I am constantly amazed at the number of people of supposed intelligence who have been taken in by the scammer-in-chief. If we could have seen just a few years ago that our country would be in the hands of a man who couldn’t survive on an inherited fortune, couldn’t make a living conning gamblers, selling vodka, water, steaks, a false “University” to teach others how to scam, and just outright stealing from his siblings, his father, people who worked for him and most of all, the U.S. government, we would not have believed it. Donald Trump knows as much about being a conservative as he does anything else. Nothing. He managed to stack the court, even if it was, by and large, with men of little qualifications and no talent or principles. He survives on a huckster’s instincts. He learned what to say to the crowds who come out for the show to keep then roaring but gives them no substance at all. McConnell and Company show their utter contempt for the voter by allowing the stooge to be hoodwinked. An hour spent researching him and his methods online is well spent. I’m not talking about biased sites either, look at the lists on Business Insider at the end of the year of his “accomplishments,” and at the records of the lawsuits he has been involved with, both as plaintiff and as defendant. Who in the world is involved in 3,500 lawsuits? His ignorance is appalling, his selfishness and ego knows no bounds.
When we elect something like this low-grade con, truly, the electorate gets what it deserves. As we cower in fear before this new virus attack while he tries desperately to turn it to his advantage, those who voted for him as well as those who didn’t will have the opportunity to rethink our decisions.
Meantime, Mark, enjoy your moment in the sun. Relieved of the burden of having to pretend to serve your constituency, you can concentrate on perfecting your pucker.
Susan Clark – Franklin, N.C.
Secular Socialism is not the solution
The Grammy award winning song “Hotel California” was recorded by the Eagles in 1976, the same year I moved back from dental school in Southern California to my future home in Western North Carolina. So thankful I did!
It was a song about a mythical Hollywood hotel which was their journey from innocence to experience or “a loss of innocence.” It was “all about American decadence and burnout, too much money, corruption, drugs and arrogance; too little humility and heart. … It has also been interpreted as an allegory about hedonism, self-destruction, and greed in the music industry of the late 1970s.”
“There is a fine line,” Don Henley said, “between the American Dream, and the American nightmare.”
Well, his prophetic statement is not mythical but a reality. “Hotel California” is an overwhelming collection of thousands of people living on the streets in third world conditions for many reasons including Henley’s list above. Sadly, there is a compounding of this misery with the governmental solutions proposed. Tough love redirected some of our ships when we were young but accommodation absent certain fundamental rules of right and wrong leaves society rudderless.
The whole notion that secular Socialism is our solution lets us start with the glorification of Cesar Chavez on kid’s tee shirts and end up with starving people, firing squads, and Hotel Californias!
David Silverstein – Franklin, N.C.
This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be
Many of us get caught up in issues of life and the world in which we live. The confusion of what seems a disorder of things that doesn’t seem right, or there’s little reason or foundation for life. Things feeling out of place, disjointed or out of norms. The constant display of hate and dislike towards life and those we disagree with and the momentum that our culture’s self absorption within electronic media begins a dissolving process within the heart and soul of many of us. We seem to be more brave or deviant behind a glaring screen, than a face-to-face contact in our human exchanges. We’ve exchanged the hard work of personal interaction in working out our relationships for the simplicity of relationships behind social media. Not to say the internet is unuseful, but it does replace meaningful relationships for strictly electronic relationships.
Just as seen in a recent interview, our relationships with human-like robots will see a dramatic increase, even within the realm of sexual pleasure, which will take pornography to unexpected levels and the uneasiness about where this will lead. The fears of relationships which we have placed upon ourselves drives us ever so deeply into isolation of a world of “self.”
This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. We seem to be our own worst enemy, but we do so with open arms seeking the freedoms which do nothing but entangle us into a continued breakdown of family, community, and the fabric of our own society, and of who we once were. We intuitively know we are made for something better, deeper, and more meaningful.
I’ve often wondered why in the days leading before the Holocaust and the killing of so many Jews, why were the Jewish people so hated, except for false propaganda given to the German people by the leadership of who they followed, and did so blindly. No reason is found for a highly educated people that was the benchmark of all Europe. Like today, they placed their hope and trust into educational and political systems which push God into the margins of society and life in general, even religious systems bent to the sways of political pressures instead of opposing and holding steadfast in a faith and God who died for all humanity, and all being equal whether Jew or Gentile.
This also came to our own shores, but in different ways in the bitterness of slavery, and even now towards those whose voices are silent and at the mercy of those more powerful – the unborn at the forefront of abortions being the norm and promoted in our society. None of this is the way it’s supposed to be, and many seem to sense this. It’s as though we are made for something better but this betterment also seems a mystery to us as well. If there is no God, where and why is this mystery part of us? Just maybe we were intended to be better than what we see ourselves and who we’ve become. The fall of mankind is just that, fallen and obviously humanity should be better than what we are. God intended to be within the very heart of mankind but we’ve belittled God out of everything, and we wonder why He’s seems absent.
Is this the way you want it to be?
Deni Shepard – firstname.lastname@example.org