Letters to the Editor

Letters on UK mural controversy: Berry spot-on and a call for more ‘historical’ paintings

We stand with the students

We are community members who support the student members of the Black Student Advisory Committee and the Basic Needs Campaign in their calls for real change in the habits, patterns and policies of racism at the University of Kentucky. We also support University of Kentucky President Dr. Eli Capilouto’s commitments to correct long-standing injustices and begin new efforts to make African-American students completely welcomed, valued and honored at UK.

As a distinct effort, one not subsumed within broader “diversity” initiatives, we urge increased and sustained attention to UK’s and Kentucky’s history of unjust policies, exclusion and discrimination against African Americans. The legacy of slavery in Kentucky continues to have negative impacts on today’s African American college students, and deserves its own well-funded remedies as well as support for useful applied and academic research.

We stand ready to support students, faculty and administrators committed to turning around UK’s legacy of segregation and prejudice. We urge UK to turn toward reckoning with the past honestly while firmly leading our whole commonwealth toward equity and fairness.

Signed by 14 Lexington residents

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Kentucky author Wendell Berry. Tom Eblen teblen@herald-leader.com

Berry was spot-on

Wendell Berry nailed my opinion with his op-ed regarding the Ann Rice O’Hanlon mural at the University of Kentucky.

As one who values history and a former educator, I read the Wiki article on the artist, and then read a 35-page 1964 interview the Smithsonian Institution did with her. She is noteworthy, as is obvious from that interview. She was very well-informed as to her own state’s history and specifically on the subject of slavery as it occurred here. After hearing her share her approach to her assignment to paint a Depression-era mural depicting various aspects of Kentucky history, I felt she did an honest approach to her subject matter.

It was ironic that the UK art department had zero interest in the mural. She commented that the only persons taking any interest in her work were the “Negro janitors at UK” who brought her snacks and talked with her while working.

Her mural is far from some of the Jim Crow-era statues erected, as they were long after the Reconstruction period in our nation’s history. After reading the diatribe by the more recent artist, Karyn Olivier, I was certainly ready for Berry’s more nuanced approach.

Michael A. Tyree, Frenchburg

Display more ‘historical’ murals

In response to Wendell Berry’s op-ed, I think there should be more “historical” paintings displayed prominently alongside the painting in question. The university can commission someone to paint a fresco of the U.S. military slaughtering Native Americans by the millions, taking their land and putting them on reservations, and killing thousands of buffalo, a main food and clothing source, in an attempt to starve them to death.

Show pictures of Native American men, women, and children covered with smallpox boils caused by the deliberate gifting of smallpox-infected blankets so they could die a slow, miserable death.

Let’s put some paintings up like that for all of the students to look at on a daily basis. And while the university is at it, throw in some paintings of African American men, women and children being lynched and burned because they suffered the misfortune of being brought to this country by white men to be mistreated and starved and worked to death.

In Berry’s opinion, if it’s history it’s all good and everybody needs to see those types of paintings. Because it’s history, right?

Yolanda Averette, Lexington

Electoral system just fine

The op-ed by Joshua A. Douglas, a University of Kentucky law professor, advocates reforms that could radically alter how our government works – a system that has worked for over 200 years.

Our founding fathers defined a “Federal Constitutional Republic” using representatives rather than a direct democracy because a “majority” could impose their will on the rest of us. Most group dynamics consultants recommend moving to a “consensus” where the group considers the entire situation and moves in the most constructive direction. Maybe that’s why we have state legislatures and Congress.

We should always encourage understanding and evaluating the issues before a person votes. Forcing persons to vote is stupid, at best, because an educated electorate should give the best results.

Using driver’s license lists and state identification cards to register voters may make it difficult to identify citizens versus non-citizens. Mailing ballots to everyone results in adulterated elections. Allowing voting across more than one or two days skews the results, because issues may surface which can alter people’s beliefs.

As for felons, everyone has a story of a person who has served time and is a “model” citizen, but what about the higher percentage of felons who are repeat offenders?

Don Dziubakowski, Georgetown

False analogies

In Susan Bordo’s op-ed about the recent fetal heartbeat bill, she points out that people cannot be forced to donate an organ from their own bodies even if this would save someone’s life. As a pro-life woman, I agree that no one ought to be forced to donate an organ. However, this is not an accurate analogy for abortion for two reasons.

First, abortion is not the simple refusal to save the life of a dying person. It is the direct taking of a life. If my sister has kidney failure, I can refuse to give her one of my own kidneys. What I cannot do is stab her. An abortion procedure, by definition, requires the baby’s life to be directly ended before it is removed from the woman’s uterus.

Second, one of the reasons that organ donation should never be legally required is that it involves an invasive procedure. Carrying a pregnancy to term is not an invasive procedure. Ironically for Bordo’s argument, surgical abortion is.

Having an abortion is very different from refusing to donate an organ and this ought to be reflected in the law.

Sophia Decker, Lexington

Coal ‘dying a natural death’

In the early 1960s I won 13 races in a row at the Bluegrass Drag Strip in Jessamine County with a 1956 Studebaker. During the same period of time I was using statistical quality control with a slide rule to ensure the Selectric typewriter was shipped defect-free. The Studebaker and the slide rule died natural deaths just like coal is dying a natural death. Hillary Clinton tried to work with the coal people, telling them they needed to prepare for the death of coal. Sen. Mitch McConnell invented the war on coal to get votes from the persons being misled by the Republicans.

Roger Guffey told it like it is in his op-ed. A recent letter writer who disagreed with Guffey’s arguments is an example about how a lie can travel the world while the truth is putting on its britches. Republican lies have caused Kentucky to become a red state.

Robert Ray Lillie, Georgetown

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