RE: WE NEED TO ADDRESS WHITE SPREMACY. OPINION, 6/15
When acts of psychological and even physical violence are directed at People of Color or members of the Jewish or LGBTQIA2S communities, the response is often the performative "thoughts and prayers" accompanied by "That is not who we are." Sorry but that is who we are, as reflected by the bigoted incidents occurring in Central Oregon within the past two years, and the cowardly responses of our so-called community "leaders."
In the aftermath of the display of a Confederate flag at the 2021 Fourth of July parade hosted by the Redmond Chamber of Commerce, the Redmond City Council refused to even merely condemn, not prohibit, the use of such flags in community parades, ostensibly in deference to the First Amendment rights of those displaying such symbols. In other words, the Council was being asked to do no more than exercise the same First Amendment right it was so intent upon honoring for the displayers of the Confederate flag. The local Veterans of Foreign Wars reportedly felt "the right to free speech overrides any feelings of emotional turmoil." I wonder if the VFW would be similarly dismissive about the conspicuous display of the Rising Sun Flag or the flag of the Third Reich on Veterans Day or as part of a Memorial Day ceremony?
The dead raccoon and racist diatribe recently left on the doorstep of the law office of current Redmond Mayor Ed Fitch prompted much outcry during public comment at the most recent meeting of the City Council. But the most compelling presentation was provided by a 10-year-old who is Black and spoke of how he has been the object of bullying and racial epithets because of his race. What does it say about us that a 10-year-old must appeal to the City Council for his safety (and that of others) at his school?
It says, "Yes, that is who we are!"
FOURTH OF JULY
I had the good fortune to be born on a holiday where fireworks splash across the sky. When I was a child, it was my job to accompany Dad to the fireworks stand. We picked out roman candles, fountains, whistling Petes, spinners, log cabins, sparklers, and black snakes.
Each year the evening began with Dad placing a bucket of water next to a piece of plywood on the lawn. An array of Sparkling Fountains, Whistling Petes, and Roman Candles stood like soldiers out of the line of fire waiting their turn to dazzle us with pyrotechnics.
As we waited impatiently for the sky to darken, Dad unpacked cardboard log cabins for us to torch. One touch of a smoldering stick, called a punk, set them ablaze, exciting the pyromaniac that lives inside us all. Flaming cabins were followed by black buttons that swelled and grew into twisting snakes on the concrete pad near the hose bib.
Finally, the sky was dark enough. Sparklers were passed around. Like a magic wand, the punk made them erupt with fizzing light. We wrote our names in the air and lit the next sparkler as the one in our hand died to a glow, the way grownups lit the next cigarette from the last.
Next, Dad nailed a spinner to the tree in the middle of the lawn and set it alight. Sparks flew as it spun faster and faster, a blur of light before expiring like a dog exhausted from chasing its tail.
With stars winking down on us, the real show began. We sat on the porch as Dad lit one firework after another, Fountains, Candles, Whistling Petes. In those days, a bucket of water and a piece of plywood on a green lawn was enough to avoid catching the world on fire. But not anymore. Changing conditions dictate home fireworks displays go the way of typewriter ribbons and rotary phones. Be safe this Fourth of July.
PASS THE MALHEUR CEO ACT
I am the leader of the local chapter of the Great Old Broads for Wilderness, a women-led national grassroots organization that advocates for the preservation of wilderness and wildlands. Our chapter, the Bitterbrush Broads of Central Oregon, is proud to support Senator Ron Wyden's "Malheur Community Empowerment for the Owyhee Act." This bill has been negotiated over many years among many different stakeholders. It has produced a rare consensus for conservation legislation and should be enacted into law.
The senator's proposal would protect Oregon's rugged and remote Owyhee Canyonlands, designating more than 1 million acres as wilderness. The legislation would require that land uses such as livestock grazing conserve and restore the long-term ecological health of the land, while also supporting new opportunities for sustainable economic development in southeastern Oregon.
If you have never been to the Owyhee Canyonlands, it is a very special hidden gem of Oregon and I would encourage you to check it out. Whether you go there to camp, hike or raft it is a tranquil, quiet and wonderful part of the state that many have overlooked. The area is strikingly beautiful, has a huge diversity of birds and wildlife, and simply deserves permanent protection. Please join me in thanking Senator Wyden for the Malheur CEO Act and encourage him to promote his bill in Congress.
Letter of the Week:
Thanks for that little dose of civic engagement, Mary. Come on by for your gift card to Palate!