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People, not profits

EDITOR: Linda Walstrom (“Trump’s bull market,” Letters, Thursday) “finds it interesting that no one has complained about our healthy stock market.” She said, “It’s interesting that no one has blamed President Donald Trump.”

I, for one, don’t care about the stock market while my fellow Americans are dying in Puerto Rico. I don’t care about GDP when immigrants, who have always been the fabric of this great nation, are excluded from the American dream because a racist fervor has gripped those who are determined to Make America White Again. What do profits or money matter when we are at risk of losing our very soul as a nation?

Greed, white nationalism and fear are making our country very poor indeed. If you want to impress me with wealth, let it be the richness of a kind and accepting heart and the spirit of a great and generous nation.

MARY CAROUBA

Santa Rosa

Free speech threatened

EDITOR: To answer the question posed by the headline to your Thursday editorial (“Is free speech really in such jeopardy?”), let me say: Yes, free speech is in jeopardy and especially on college campuses.

In your rush to lambaste the GOP and the attorney general, you ignored the Sept. 18 survey conducted under the auspices of the Brookings Institution (hardly a conservative think-tank), which found that of the 1,500 college students who were surveyed a full 51 percent agreed that it was acceptable to disrupt or shout down a speaker with whom they disagreed, and an astounding 19 percent believed that violence was an appropriate way to prevent an unpopular speaker from speaking. Perhaps less surprising, but equally wrong, was the finding that 44 percent of those surveyed believed that “hate speech” was not protected by the First Amendment.

If these attitudes of our so-called “best and brightest” do not change, then, in 15 or 20 years, exercising the First Amendment rights we enjoy today could easily result in a prison sentence, or worse.

BRUCE G. ENOS

Santa Rosa

Un-American views

EDITOR: When I was small, my mother told me that calling people names says nothing about them but speaks volumes about you. In Thursday’s letters, Robert Casper called people who knelt for the National Anthem, “slugs” (“Twisting the story”). Was he also referring to the veterans from Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Korea and, yes, even World War II who knelt in respect, and protest, or is he just referring to black athletes?

My father and uncles fought in World War II. They saw bloody fighting in Normandy and lost many friends and comrades. They fought for freedom, and that includes the freedom to protest, freedom of conscience and the freedom of speech that protects the rights of even Casper to spout his odious and un-American views.

M.L. JONES

Santa Rosa

False facts and contexts

EDITOR: On Sept. 24, The Press Democrat ran an editorial with some great advice about spotting fake news by looking at sources of information (“How to spot fake news when you see it”). But as somebody once said, figures don’t lie, but liars do figure. And these days, we know that the fake news source may not be a liar but a well-meaning person too caught up in his or her own world view to see the reality that exists beyond it.

People caught in this trap tend to use emotions to lead themselves and us to erroneous conclusions even as they cite verifiable facts. They use inflammatory words such as socialism, entitlement, handout, freeloader and loser, or use context to inflame ordinary words such as liberal. They may scapegoat some section of the population, seniors, millennials, the unemployed, immigrants, Muslims or Jews. They sometimes present raw data, such as the debt clock in dramatic fashion and out of a context that would give it any meaning. They then assign to it a scary meaning.

If you see an article with any of these things in it, be suspicious of its conclusions, even if the facts presented are correct.

EDWARD MEISSE

Santa Rosa

Villanueva’s stand

EDITOR: I was pleased and proud to see Alejandro Villanueva of the Pittsburgh Steelers standing tall and alone with his hand placed over his heart during the playing of the national anthem. Here was a man and fellow service member who has served in defense of our American freedoms, such freedoms that allowed his teammates to remain in the tunnel and scores of other players to take a knee. Standing alone took bravery. He chose not to follow the crowd but to set the example for millions of proud veterans. Someone had to do it, and it was a West Point graduate and professional player to show the way.

So, of course, I was disappointed to hear him tell reporters the following day that he had inadvertently gotten separated from his team, stepped out too far from the tunnel and then realized he couldn’t retreat.

He had his chance to be a silent hero to millions of patriotic citizens — proud to stand for our flag and national anthem. Unfortunately, he later backtracked and bailed out.

BOB GMELIN

Sonoma

The president’s compass

EDITOR: In a little more than 100 years, our president’s international canon has gone from speak softly and carry a big stick to insult incessantly and point a little finger.

FRANK N. PANZA

Santa Rosa

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