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The Mechanicsville Local Letters to the editor:week of Aug. 26, 2020

The Mechanicsville Local Letters to the editor:week of Aug. 26, 2020

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Look to future not the past as model to success

Michael Reardon’s question to Melody Kinser, “Who are you, coming from West Virginia, to tell us what to do?” What is that supposed to mean? West Virginians come from a state that ditched Virginia in 1861 (which included Hanover County), a move we made because of Virginia’s poor decision-making back then and it continues today.

Independent people from West Virginia without a dog in the fight have a clearer more fair insight into matters of public opinion such as politics and the past.

The attitudes of many who think they deserve special attention or compensation because of past accomplishments of others, past mistakes of others or DNA associations of past ancestors is the reason we can’t get out of this predicament peacefully.

My life doesn’t revolve around anything from the past, although some of it is interesting, the times, tools available and situations dictated how things were handled back then, sometimes right sometimes wrong, just like today.

The past is done and over with. If people would spend as much time planning for the future as they do wasting time in the past they may end up being one of the millions of highly intelligent, highly successful people of color, including white, who have proven that using the past as a motivator instead of an agitator is smart, beneficial and profitable.

Ted Mentz

Old Church

The other worldwide pandemic

I have been a resident of Hanover County, Virginia, for over 20 years, and have had first-hand experience of being rejected as the only family of color in the neighborhood.

However, over the years we proved that we are peaceable, responsible, neighborly, property owners. I also have had personal experience with the Hanover County Public Schools division from Pre-K through (AP) high school graduations. They attended four school buildings, over a 16-year period.

I do not have any known ancestors who fought in the Civil War, deserving statues or other landmarks to be named after them.

However, I had ancestors who owned land, farms and other business undertakings in Hanover.

Although my grandfather grew vegetables and raised poultry for sale, he was not allowed to join white farmers inside the now redesigned and abandoned 6th Street Marketplace.

White farmers with their family farm names painted on their truck doors could set up and display their produce inside. My grandfather had to stay on the outside sidewalk to sell his produce out of his truck, with no farm names painted on the side.

The next family generation members did not allow self-appointed, racially superior persons, in power, to limit or dictate their standard of entrepreneurship; they decided to bypass the Marketplace and drove through neighborhoods selling their produce from the back of un-named trucks.

Repeat, multi-racial customers trusted and supported them as their major source for fresh and quality produce, resulting in a profitable income.

Like my ancestors’ customers, when I enrolled my kids in the Hanover school system, I did not really care what names were placed on school buildings; I expected my kids to receive unbiased, equal and quality education. I was more interested in the atmosphere inside the buildings.

I expected my kids to be protected, not bullied or mistreated by other students because of their skin color.

I was surprised to learn from my kids of the limitations and assumptions spoken about non-white students, by the teaching staff. I felt compelled to meet with the staff when my kids received contrasting discipline for like issues in the same classroom or on the same school bus.

There was concern when I learned of teachers who openly supported belittling and negative comments, about non-white students, and general people of color, during class.

I, in no way, at any time, supported negative behavior or conduct in school, or any other walk of life by my kids. Likewise, I, in no way, support the recent protesters who acted under the covering of addressing injustices, then changed into violent, destructive riots against humanity in general.

Still, the current mindset of many people of color, and their supporters, will no longer accept the current racial “back-peddling” words and actions of co-workers, neighbors, those in power at companies and businesses, or government elected and employed persons.

A few of the white, publicly outspoken persons have been used as sacrificial lambs to give the appearance of racial repair, equality, recanting and repentance such as, our President, Papa John Pizza founder John Schnatter, Los Angeles Clippers’ former owner Donald Sterling, TV show host Paula Dean, actor Michael Richards, and TV personality Roseanne Barr, to list a few.

It is astounding, to me, that the patterns of discrimination by today’s insensitive, self-appointed superior race members still attempt to catalog racial words, actions and general disrespect as unintentional, unaware, unseen or unknown.

Many members of the self-appointed superior race, openly admit, believe and defend their ingrained racist opinions and actions. Too many racially-based acts have continued over the years with no accountability and no penalty after inhumane treatment of others because of their skin color.

Take a survey of your environments: Review the ratio of whites versus non-whites in your neighborhood, on your campus, at your place of employment, your place of worship, places of business you support and in organizations of which you are a proud member.

The time of indifference, blind and silent acceptance of racism, disrespect and injustice is over!

Equal, respectful and humane justice for all is no longer expected, but demanded.

Racism is the other worldwide pandemic; to heal and survive, this land must sincerely change how we relate to one another!

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land”.                                                                               2 Chronicles 7:14

M. Laverne Wright Branch

Mechanicsville

Scout discusses NSA, surveillance in badge pursuit

Hello, I am Matthew Bowles. I am a 14-year-old resident of Hanover County and I am a Boy Scout from troop 706 in Montpelier, Virginia.

As part of the Communications merit badge, I am required to write to a local newspaper about a national issue that interests me. 

I am writing to you to share my opinion about the national issue that I have chosen, which is the National Security Agency (NSA) and the domestic surveillance of United States citizens. I have decided on this topic because of the values that I hold dear, because of my involvement in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), and simply because of the active roles I have in my community. 

I believe that freedom is at the true heart of America and it should continue to be. I hold a number of values close to my heart, but none as close as freedom.

I understand that for a variety of reasons there are laws or acts put in place to protect American citizens, but are we so fearful that, as U.S. citizens, we are willing to dispense with any thought of freedom?

The very ideals that this country was founded upon are now in debate. I see in the laws and acts enacted that there is little thought given to what freedom remains.

In my opinion, there is little to life without freedom. This issue sits close to me because of its effects on this nation and the privacy of its people. The NSA's domestic surveillance is at the source of this issue. From an agency founded by the U.S. Constitution that states "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." There is evidence that the very same agency that was created to protect our freedoms is violating them.

As a student, athlete, Boy Scout, role model, public speaker, committee leader, assistant student coach, Boy Scout Buckskin Staff member, and school sports captain, I see our government, which was made to establish and uphold freedom, taking away those very freedoms.

The FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) amendment is used by the NSA to conduct surveillance on foreign targets overseas. While this allows the NSA to intercept communications of those foreign targets, it gives the meaning and justification of the term "foreign target" a wide application, meaning many foreign communications are intercepted.

Allowing these communications to be intercepted does not mean the American people are protected. It is my understanding that contact between Americans and foreign "targets" can be collected as deemed necessary by the NSA and held indefinitely if the communications are found to hold vital information.

Additionally, without such evidence, the communications can be held for a five-year period. This does not protect the privacy of the U.S. citizens.

Furthermore, international communications between American citizens and foreign individuals that have previously taken place can put the U.S. citizen at risk for further monitoring of their communications. 

There are multiple ways for American citizens to have their privacy stripped away.

One way privacy is being stripped away is in a case where an identified target for surveillance has been mentioned or talked about even without direct contact.

Those communications can then be swept up by the NSA during what is called a “dragnet” surveillance. This type of surveillance completely undermines the NSA's commitment to not monitoring overseas American communications.

In other words, the communication filter would kick in to keep that American's communications if the topic is mentioned. This is a violation of that American's freedoms and privacy. A nation with no privacy is a nation with no freedom.      

Thank you for your time and dedication to informing the people of Hanover County.

Matthew Bowles 

Troop 706 Scout

Face-to-face return to class in Trump hubs

 

“Outline and refine face-to-face return to school” was the headline in today’s (Aug. 18, 2020) Mechanicsville Local. 

Just so happens that today also was the annual “in-service” meetings for all HCPS (Hanover County Public Schools) support personnel (school bus drivers, automobile drivers, and drivers for vans), as well as peripheral folks/managers/directors. 

These in-service meetings are conducted twice a year. These are conducted so as to allow the school staff (from the superintendent’s office all the way down through the individual school’s staff [principal, vice principal, and a teacher every now and then] and other various individuals) who all have the exact same mission-in-life: to plan for and provide our children with as much of an enrichment in education as can humanly, and possibly be put forth. Every effort imaginable. Every parent should be proud of all these exceptional professionals.

I was in the military and I was a police officer for a local jurisdiction. I have never ever seen as much professionalism as within the Hanover County Public Schools as I have with either the military or the police department. Military, police agencies, EMT, medical professionals (doctors, nurses) and education professionals are always on the front lines to keep our society functioning properly and safely.

That said, the only two districts in all of Central Virginia going back to a face-to-face regular schedule as if nothing went wrong (with a 100-year pandemic that, incidentally, Mr. Trump said “would be gone in about 15 days” way back in March) are Hanover County schools and Colonial Heights schools.

It’s very interesting and ironic that these two districts are “Trump hubs” where the support for such a reckless buffoon is so abnormally high. How tragic! Puzzling to say the least. 

There are about 17,000 students in 25 schools in Hanover County. There are hundreds of teachers and bus drivers. There also are thousands of parents who need some type of normalcy in their lives (which includes the kids in school). I know this because I am a bus driver in HCPS. 

I also know that if even one child, one teacher or one driver gets sick from the pandemic, there could be an explosion of health issues because of the close proximity of all students and staff. 

I see where the wearing of a mask has become so politicized that strangers are fighting at grocery stores over people not wearing the masks (it’s so simple, just wear the dang thing). 

We all recently could see where there were 250,000 folks in the 80th annual rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, without regard for the virus. Can you say “Mega-SuperSpreader?” I don’t care about folks partying in a small town in South Dakota. I care about my community and my fellow school support staff (and all my children). 

I find it very suspicious that it’s only Trump hubs sending their babies into a meat grinder with a wartime-leveled biological hazard waiting in the hallways and in the buses just to mandate normalcy. Why can’t we all work together in the same direction?

I am a nobody and a nothing except a cog in a machine. I am a worker in the trenches. I wish I could wave a magic wand and change the minds of those who make these kinds of decisions (glad I’m not in such a mega-important decision-making process position, by the way) because I would be so inclined as to anger those who want normalcy instead of safety for our kids.

I will yield to “the powers-that-be” and the decisions they must make. But as I do, I want all to know that another issue occurred today: one of the best bus drivers in all of HCPS told our transportation staff that he is tenuring his resignation immediately because he is concerned about the health of his wife (with a pre-existing condition) by him being exposed to and maybe bringing home COVID-19. Why don’t I do the same? Good question. I’m certain there are many, many school support staff/educators/directors who may feel the same way. 

It’s an unnecessary burden to place these situations on people. I pray to Jesus Christ in Heaven we all get through this in a safe manner and come out on the other side all the better.

UNC today (after beginning fall semester only last week) announced that it was going to “all virtual classes immediately.” They’ve got over 130 positive cases since opening. 

“Better safe than sorry” has never meant so much. 

Time will tell (it always does).

Dr. Richard Ryder, PhD

Mechanicsville

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