As a resident of this area for over 5 years, an active political junkie, former history teacher, and survivor of Grif Stockley's law course, I am again perplexed at how this man's inane ramblings, misunderstandings, and small-town gossip column style of writing earn him the unofficial title of preeminent “expert” and author on Arkansas race relations.
Stockley's recent Times piece, “The Obama Effect,” completely misses the point on what we witnessed on Election Day. I assert that Stockley's “visions of an increasingly color-blind Arkansas” are, unfortunately for our state, totally off-base.
Don't get me wrong, I sincerely wish some of Stockley's we're-finally-all-just-gettin'-along contentions were true. And I do agree with the notion that a Barack Obama presidency will foster improved race relations in all states in some way, including Arkansas. But to ignore the results from Nov. 4 and pretend that Arkansas is even close to being beyond its ugly past, mainly because of the personal experiences of one man in a van full of like-minded supporters, is doing all of us a disservice.
The fact is, Arkansas was only outmatched in its redness for McCain (59 percent-39 percent) by 5 other states, despite the fact that our state swings heavily Democratic in nearly all major state offices and in representation to the federal government. This is a state where John Kerry, a northeastern liberal who lost the election and who had almost no grassroots support here, garnered over twice the final tally for Obama, a Midwesterner who won the election handily. Was it a lack of enthusiasm for Obama? Certainly not, judging by the number of volunteers working for him here. Was it the disaffected Hillary backers getting payback? Well, we know that trend did not play out nationally. So that leaves us with one possibility: Obama's race played the primary role in his defeat here and, despite Stockley's contentions, Arkansas just took another huge step back in race relations. Thank you.
North Little Rock
I just read Max Brantley's column on the lottery and the legislative session. Please keep up the spotlight on this issue — I would hate to see the legislature do something stupid after Arkansans have taken so long to approve it. You're right on with the words “universal, simple and fair.” I have always thought that the GPA requirement should be a 3.0, but you have made me rethink this as well. This lottery has so much potential to do good for so many people — hopefully the legislature won't dampen what can be done.
Reflections on July 4
Like many of you July 4, I displayed my American flag, watched fireworks, and ate too much barbeque. But it was the playing of our country's patriotic songs that got me to thinking, and now writing. It is time to change our national anthem.
Francis Scott Key wrote the words to the Star Spangled Banner after watching, from a British ship, Fort McHenry getting attacked during the Battle of Baltimore in the middle of the War of 1812. We won the Battle of Baltimore, and later the War of 1812, but keep in mind our national anthem is rooted in America's getting attacked. I vote we look to another song, one with less firepower and more pure, inspirational language. Like “O Canada!” and “God Save the Queen.”
This weekend we sang “America the Beautiful.” This song exalts prosperity (waves of grain... fruited plain), proclaims “grace” has been “shed on thee”, seeks God to mend its ev'ry flaw, champions the sacrifice of its soldiers (“Who more than self their country loved”), and calls for national “brotherhood” to “crown [its] good.” And it gets better. Katherine Bates composed these lyrics during a train ride across the country.
Let's keep the bald eagle. Let's keep flying our flag. Let's keep Uncle Sam pointing at us and wanting us. But let's thank Mr. Key for a great creation, set his song aside, and let Ms. Bates' fine words tell the world what is important to us as Americans.
Friday, July 4, we were asked to join together as one to celebrate our Declaration of Independence. Today, I am saddened by our current state of the country.
We are involved in an illegal war brought about by lies and deception from the current administration to further its own agenda of submission and domination of the American people for corporate interests. Our Constitution has been shredded.
Amendment I prohibits Congress from usurping our right to enjoy any or no religion if we so choose, or the right to peaceably assemble, to petition the government for a redress of grievances and freedom of the press and speech. Today the press is used as a conduit for political propaganda from the White House.
Amendment II gives Americans the right to maintain a well regulated militia and the right to keep and bear arms. It does not say that anyone has the right to own Uzis, MK14s or nuclear bombs. Had our founding fathers had a crystal ball that would have given them the insight into the plethora of guns and the death and destruction they wield, they might have worded it a little different.
Amendment IV protects us from unwarranted search and seizure. Congress just gave immunity to corporations that broke that tenet.
Amendment VII protects the decisions of a jury. The Supreme Court just overruled the verdict of the jury that gave the people of Alaska compensation for the loss of livelihood and the damages to the ecosystem by the Exxon Valdez.
Celebrate July 4? I don't think so.
In celebration of July 4, I had red, white and blue fruit on my cereal. As I ate, I started thinking about our country and where we are today. I love my country and I'm thankful to live here.
9/11 was a shock. The U.S. was being attacked! By the end of the year, the Bush administration was planning to invade Iraq, a country that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11. It has been downhill ever since. Our country is in the worst economic slump since the Great Depression. In June, more troops died in Afghanistan than in Iraq. The 9/11 attackers were trained in Afghanistan, not Iraq, but Afghanistan does not have any oil.
I never protested until Bush and buddies planned to invade Iraq. My husband and I went to a candlelight service at Wheatley Plaza. Veterans, young people, old people and a couple who had a son on a carrier in the Persian Gulf lit candles and stood quietly as cars passed by. I began to write letters to the editor and speak out about what I thought was wrong about the war.
We invaded Iraq with massive and indiscriminate bombing. Men, women and children were killed or wounded. Homes, businesses, mosques, museums, and utilities were destroyed. Millions are still displaced. The credibility of the U.S. has suffered. It has cost us trillions and over 4,000 U.S. lives, more than were killed on 9/11. What has the U.S. gained? Does this meet the qualifications of a just war?
Hot Springs Village
(Editor's note: We get more letters than we can accommodate. The July 4 letters got lost in the shuffle, but all seem to have messages that remain timely.)