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December 5, 2022

Letter to the editor: We must overcome bigotry

Two photos in your paper have captured my imagination. My thoughts have linked them in this fashion. The first photo colored the Sept. 23-29 front page; the second cartooned the opinion page of Sept. 30. The first featured young men costumed as Civil War soldiers. The Joe Heller cartoon featured silhouetted men in a panicked run from a wall poster of Uncle Vlad (Putin) imitating the Uncle Sam “I want you” poster.  

I’ve wondered just why the Civil War is important to re-enact. It actually embarrasses me to think that our country fought against one another and even killed each other. Even thinking about those battles is difficult. Imagining those young men standing to shoot other young men just like them makes me wonder what they were thinking. Were they angry? What were they defending? What made them kill each other?  

I think bigotry was involved. I think money was involved. Young men had to be taught to hate black men. Hate makes violence easy. Blacks had to be kept as slaves because slaves keyed the cotton economy in the South to high profitability. Slaves were less than human so they had to be owned. They couldn’t be equal because black was considered inferior, easily hated, and of course not brotherly. Hatred made a war against brothers easy. 

The silhouetted men in the Heller cartoon running from Putin did not want to fight in Ukraine.  They realized they would be killing brothers. Ukraine previously was part of the Soviet Empire (USSR); the eastern part spoke Russian; Ukrainians are brothers; families cross borders. Russians could not hate brothers. Hatred is a problem.

It seems to me that if humanity is to survive we must pick our battles and make them with ideas and talk to each other. Killing is not acceptable. We must learn to overcome bigotry, to embrace equality and to talk. Bigotry sabotages our effort to work together to face our common problems. 

Mary Zanger


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