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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

June 24, 2020 - 00:00

Dear Editor,

At a time when racial and social justice are at the top of most people’s minds, I have one question:

Why did the mayor of Columbus, during her Juneteenth day update on COVID-19, close her remarks with the racist and xenophobic dog whistle to “Keep America and Columbus Great?”

Both “Make America Great Again,” and Trump’s current slogan “Keep America Great,” are racist dog whistles, and not just against African Americans. Original lan guage like this was used against the Polish, Czech, and German people who helped settle this area and against other immigrants in this country. The Klan was a heavy promoter of this rhetoric.

The office of mayor is non-partisan and serves all people. There is zero need to tie a racist and xenophobic dog whistle like “Keep America Great” to Columbus.

Our city officials should not use rhetoric designed to divide Americans in this fashion. This rhetoric is tied to a president who tells American citizens of color to “go back where they came from.” This is the remhetoric of a president who says there are “good people on both sides” of white supremacy. We don’t need this in Columbus. This rhetoric is tied to a president who wanted to have a rally at the site of the Tulsa Race Massacre on Juneteenth. It has zero place in local government.

This was beyond unnecessary. Did the mayor not just attend a conversation on race with local police and African American ministers to promote racial understanding some weeks ago? Why the disconnect between

Why the disconnect between that appearance and the words used on Juneteenth?

No one cannot claim, in this moment, that they do not understand the negative, racist and xenophobic implications of the President’s slogan and his rhetoric. Why use this dog whistle in Columbus?

Vince Leibowitz

Columbus

We moved to Columbus in the spring of 1987. I can’t recall the first time I heard the term “hanging tree”, but today I can only say that I am embarrassed and ashamed that until last week, I didn’t know the history behind that tree. Thank you Madison Laird for revealing the truth to those of us who didn’t know, and reminding those of us who did know, the significance of that tree, and it’s place in our everyday lives and vernacular.

My grown children all knew of that tree as the “hanging tree.” It is time that we remove that language from our vocabulary. It is time for the tree to go. It should be replaced by an appropriate marker that serves to educate all of us and future generations about the gross injustice that occurred, and that learning from that mistake, we are committed to being a better community.

Having witnessed the removal of three similar oak trees for the sake of a new softball field, it shouldn’t be difficult to witness the removal of a tree that has for nearly a century stood as a constant reminder of how we can be cruel and unjust to our fellow man. If we need a petition to get that to happen, put my name at the top of the list.

Scott Mattingly