In response to the thoughtful letter from Rance Brode, on page 20 of the Owego Pennysaver of Aug. 9, 2020, I offer this.
You began by asking if the young people who are peacefully protesting in the Courthouse Square know what they are protesting against. Some of us who are protesting are not young and are well aware of what we are protesting against, based on a lifelong concern for issues of peace and justice, expressed in ways of non-violence.
The young people with us (and who initiated the protest, “Black Lives Matter”) are also concerned for these very issues of peace and justice.
You raised many issues (too many to respond to in this letter). Let me say that our party affiliations are variable, as are our religious and personal feelings. The current protest, as our signs say, is to encourage people to consider whether they harbor feelings of racism. The murder of George Floyd by a white policeman shows how such feelings can be present in deadly ways.
I’d like to respond to one issue you raised, that of the destruction of statues of Confederate “heroes.” I agree with many that it would be better to put such statues together in a museum setting (so as to illuminate that aspect of our national history). But those of us who are white should consider the following quote from the former mayor of New Orleans, Mitchell Landrieu, about a statue of Lee removed from an obelisk in the city:
“Consider these monuments from the perspective of an African American mother or father trying to explain to their fifth grade daughter who Robert E. Lee is and why he stands atop our beautiful city. Can you do it? Can you look into that young girl’s eyes and convince her that Robert E. Lee is there to encourage her? Do you think she will feel inspired and hopeful by that story?”
The source of this quote is an editorial by Peter W. Marty, editor / publisher of the Christian Century, July 29, 2020, page 3. Marty acknowledges that, ”Imperfect people founded this country, but they founded it on principles that made slavery’s eradication inevitable.”
Slavery has technically been eradicated, but racism remains. Those of us who are white have a special need to continue the quest to eradicate it, in non-violent ways, thus seeking liberty and justice for all. This is what “Black Lives Matter” is all about.