[Re "Not Buying It," July 8]: When I first encountered a swastika at an antique show as a young child, I was horrified. As I grew, I delighted in hearing antiques dealers and veterans bring history to life: Their words imbued the objects they showed me with an intemporal quality. I not only grew up to be a collector of antiques and militaria but an observant Jew, a U.S. Army officer and a graduate student of Jewish history.
My passion for preserving history is what led me to speak to Seven Days reporter Derek Brouwer. I told him about my first encounter with a swastika and the importance of that visceral reaction to evil. I explained that collectors work to preserve history, not only in museums but in homes, schools and college classrooms. I purchased one of the swastika banners so that, as an aspiring teacher, I can one day show my students irrefutable proof of our capacity for evil and the need to continually guard against it.
Brouwer's article did not reflect this sentiment. Brouwer and editor Matthew Roy further refused to include the disclaimer that my views do not reflect the official policy or position of the Vermont National Guard, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Department of Defense or the U.S. government. While this may seem trivial, history teaches us the importance of a politically independent military, civil service and press. Seven Days chose to craft a hateful narrative that not only led to death threats toward an unimpeachable auction house but will actively stifle those who seek to educate future generations about the very evils these objects so palpably represent.
'Write On, Man!'
[Re "See You Down the Road," July 1]: Thank you, Jernigan, for the excellent cab rides and thoughtful stories of people who live in Vermont or are drawn to it — for whatever reason. Your ability to make folks feel at ease, share their lives and "spill their guts" has always been an amazing homage to this fine state that we live in. Write on, man!
Don't Lose Brunelle
I am very sorry to learn that Seven Days will be discontinuing the Robert Brunelle comic "Mr. Brunelle Explains It All." The cartoons are sharp, funny and pertinent to what goes on in our world. I read through this week's online edition to see if there was any explanation for the change. None appeared, but there was a mention of a new cartoon being added, "The K Chronicles."
May I suggest you scrap "The K Chronicles" and restore "Mr. Brunelle Explains It All" to your Fun Stuff pages? It's the first thing I look for in the paper every week.
White River Junction
Editor's note: We are discontinuing two cartoons, "Mr. Brunelle Explains It All" and "Red Meat," as of this week, and bringing back "The K Chronicles." The change enables us to meet two important goals: to lower expenses in the "funny pages" and to add a Black voice and perspective to the section. Fans of local artist Robert Waldo Brunelle Jr. can still find his strip, which he posts on Facebook. Max Cannon's "Red Meat" can be read at redmeat.com.
'Boycott the Monopolists'
In "Join the Facebook Ad Boycott" [From the Publisher, July 1], Paula Routly doesn't go far enough. Ordinary users, not just advertisers, should also boycott Facebook. The company wants to exert monopoly control over our social lives in the same way that Microsoft wants to monopolize the software we use on our computers, Google wants to monopolize the way we search for information, and Amazon wants to monopolize everything else. These companies pretend to offer us convenience, but their real goal is to monitor every aspect of our lives. They then use the data they acquire from their surveillance of our activities to nudge, herd and prod us in the directions they choose, for their benefit and the benefit of their advertisers.
Facebook, Google, Amazon and Microsoft want us to believe that they are indispensable, but they are not. There are plenty of alternatives that do not track and manipulate our lives: open-source software and social networks, non-tracking search engines, small and local businesses, and more. We need to boycott the monopolists now if we want to take back control of our lives, both online and elsewhere.
Ingram Works Hard for Change
[Re Off Message: "Debbie Ingram Kicks Off Bid for Lieutenant Governor," June 26]: I am writing to express my support for Sen. Debbie Ingram, who is running to be the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in the upcoming August 11 primary. I have known Debbie for several years, and I believe she is the best candidate for this important position in our state government.
Debbie has always prioritized issues related to social justice and a moral economy, and this really resonates with me. Her work with Vermont Interfaith Action, the Affordable Housing Task Force of the Williston Selectboard and in the Vermont Senate has shown her dedication to making life for all Vermonters affordable and sustainable, and to making Vermont a place folks want to visit and call home.
She has sponsored bills focused on creating a living wage, addressing child poverty and working toward equal pay. She has shown through her words and actions that she understands the importance of racial justice. At this time in our country, when we have an opportunity to make real change, we must elect leaders who we know will be dedicated to making change happen here in Vermont.
I strongly encourage Vermonters to vote for Debbie Ingram in the primary — she will work hard for all Vermonters!
Ashe Has What It Takes
[Re Off Message: "Ashe Kicks Off Campaign for Lieutenant Governor," May 28]: I support Tim Ashe for lieutenant governor because I respect his lifelong commitment to public service and believe him to be exceptionally qualified for the job. During the current COVID-19 crisis, Tim continues to demonstrate the strong leadership skills that have defined his years in the Senate.
Tim possesses the experience, commitment and compassion for all Vermonters that we need in our executive offices. Tim also cares deeply about land conservation, expanding local food markets and developing long-term solutions to clean our state's waters.
Don't forget to vote in the primary on August 11 (or early or by mail). Voting is not only our right; it's our responsibility.
Keep Burton Quiet
Alan Newman sounds like an amazing entrepreneur ["Vanishing Act," July 1]. I wonder if he is aware of the resistance that the residents surrounding Burton are mounting in opposition to concerts by Higher Ground at its facility. Members of the group Citizens for Responsible Zoning do not oppose other uses of the Burton plant. But over 100 concerts that end after 10 p.m. — and some after midnight — don't belong there. Our homes, with windows open on summer nights, will not be places for sleeping when these concerts let out. Perhaps Newman can use his expertise and experience to bring his concerts to Memorial Auditorium, where we will all benefit.
Flying Too Low
[WTF: "Why Did a Chopper Haul Another Aircraft Across Lake Champlain?" June 24] struck a nerve with some Underhill and Jericho residents. Specifically, the last sentence: "Unlike the newly arrived F-35 fighter jets, Beta's bird isn't loud enough to rile up its neighbors." Not true. Last year, Kyle Clark's low-flying nonelectrical aircrafts provoked Front Porch Forum postings. When our once-peaceful community is compromised, it riles us. I have a video of a Beta Technologies aircraft just above the roof of my 35-foot house. The Federal Aviation Administration requirement of aircrafts is 500 feet in rural areas. We would hope that all pilots adhere to those regulations for the greater good.
Siegel Understands Struggle
[Re Off Message: "Progressives Seek to Ward Off Perennial Vying for Party Nod," July 7]: Brenda Siegel makes no secret of the fact that she struggles financially. So three years ago, when we attended the Women's Convention in Detroit, it was no shock when she laid out her budget for that weekend clearly to me. It was minimal, but enough to squeak by on, especially since her room and some of the meals were sponsored.
Walking to the convention together one windy day, we passed by a man sleeping on the sidewalk. He was covered in grime, nothing below him but the cold concrete. Brenda stopped, pulled out the little bit of cash she had set aside for food money that day, leaned down to him and said, "Sir, I'm going to put some money in your hand." He woke up enough to accept and share gratitude as she tucked it into his hand.
This is just one of many examples of her selflessness. In addition to being a good human when no one is looking, Brenda is a passionate and impactful advocate to our legislature for those struggling with opioid-use disorder, an epidemic that has hit our state exceptionally hard. Proven through social justice actions, her life is devoted to bringing equality to all.
Brenda truly cares about the welfare of all the people of Vermont and will filter every decision through a lens of impact. Because of all of this, I enthusiastically endorse Brenda Siegel for lieutenant governor and hope you will join me.
I cannot tell you how happy I am you wrote about Dr. Stephen Leffler ["Doc Star," May 27]. Years ago they wheeled me into the ER. I was in pain with pneumonia and an infection in my lungs. I thought I was going to die. His little bit of humanity may have given me the strength to fight that illness.
The COVID-19 pandemic has called attention to the areas of our service delivery systems and related policies that threaten the well-being of our community, state and nation. Your article ["Hunger Crisis," May 12] not only highlighted the desperation that individuals and families face as a result of food insecurity, but the difficult decisions they make each day to determine how best to go about meeting their basic needs.
We are presented with a unique opportunity to activate and advocate for innovative measures and policy changes on both state and federal levels that shift how people access available resources to meet their basic human needs. Restructuring and reorganizing Vermont's 3SquaresVT program and the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to remove systemic barriers for working adults without dependents and for families with children can improve access and lead to the delivery of quality services.
Let us use what we have learned from this experience to inform new practices! The application process can be streamlined to be more user-friendly; work requirements can be made more flexible, taking education level and health issues into account, and recognizing that 3SquaresVT is not just a food security program but an economic program that supports the fiscal health of Vermont.
[Re "Not Buying It," July 8]: This observation is probably not original to me — I may have picked it up from a Susan Sontag essay — but the Nazi symbols and artifacts mentioned in the Duane Merrill & Company auction story are fascinating to some people because they were deliberately designed to be so by artists.
Both Adolf Hitler and his propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, had been aspiring artists, and artistic values remained central to their worldview. Aside from its typically murderous calls for "justice," Nazism was partly, or primarily, an aesthetic movement. The art deco design elements in Nazi artifacts permeated to the level of the goose-stepping marching style, the snazzy uniforms, and even to the party's glorification of angular symmetry in the ideal human body and face — which became true institutional racism. The sophisticated films of Leni Riefenstahl powerfully imprinted that aesthetic.
Striking symbols and images fascinate, regardless of the stupidity or vileness of the ideas they represent. That's why Plato would ban poets — verbal image-makers — from his Republic, and why some people, not necessarily racist, collect Nazi artifacts despite the horror they once promoted. I'll let others debate the ethics of putting those items up for sale.
As an aside, I'm not anti-art. I just think the ideas that artists promote aren't any more valid than anyone else's and should be taken with a grain of salt.
Ingram Cares About Racial Justice
[Re Off Message: "Debbie Ingram Kicks Off Bid for Lieutenant Governor," June 26]: Debbie Ingram is my choice for lieutenant governor. In the Senate, Debbie has supported issues that are near and dear to my heart, including paid family leave. Debbie is committed to creating an economy that values the dignity of all people by raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and initiating paid family and medical leave. Because Debbie has served in the Senate, she is familiar with the realities of getting that work done in Vermont.
Debbie's commitment to the dignity of all people in Vermont is also evidenced in her role as the cochair of the Social Equity Caucus and her endorsement from Justice for All.
I attended a virtual town hall on racial justice that Debbie organized and moderated, in which the panelists were Bor Yang and Rev. Arnold Thomas. I was impressed by Debbie's questions and the respect that speakers had for Debbie's work on racial justice. When someone from the audience asked, "How will we pay for all of this?" Debbie acknowledged that funds are not unlimited but that somehow, we always manage to pay for the things we decide are important. If we don't think there is enough money to support racial justice, maybe what we need is to sit down and talk about our priorities.
There is money to tackle the issues we care about. Let's elect people who will prioritize the things we care about.
Ashe Is a Modern-Day Bernie
As we've come to realize in present-day society, "experience" in your job, especially politics, is a liability. Look no further than the embarrassment in the White House for the most glaring example. But here in Vermont, experience matters. We still have some semblance of community, decency and integrity left.
I recently had the opportunity to attend a small event in Stowe where Tim Ashe was the guest speaker. Ashe is the president pro tempore of the Vermont Senate, and he is running for lieutenant governor as a Democrat [Off Message: "Ashe Kicks Off Campaign for Lieutenant Governor," May 28].
Ashe's mentor was Bernie Sanders. He worked directly for him, and they spent countless hours together. Whatever you think of Bernie, he is a good and decent man. The one thing I always thought Bernie lacked was the tactical skills to execute on his vision.
But from a great mentor always rises a protégé. Ashe is the younger, milder, pragmatic, egoless, modern-day version of Bernie. As I sat and listened to his life story and his genuine and earnest ambition to make Vermont what it once was and can be again, I was moved.
He's put in the long hours to understand the complexity of issues facing our communities, our environment and our economy — and has formulated a vision to fix it. Let's reward that hard work, experience and pragmatism, instead of looking for someone new and untested to take the No. 2 spot in our state government.
Vote for Tim Ashe for lieutenant governor in the August 11 primary.