‘Listen and Interact Respectfully,’ Says Letter to the Editor

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Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor:

After listening to KHSU’s ‘Thursday Night Talk’ on October 18–which focused on the Arcata Plaza McKinley statue controversy and Measure M–I was struck by a few things.

I was impressed by the attitude and opinions being expressed by Lisa Lytle Morehouse. For example, her delivery was often Trump-like in its stridency and disregard for talking over other people while continually pounding the same short list of talking points, repeatedly expressing her hostility toward and discomfort with the opinions of other guests.

Civility aside, I found myself wishing someone had pressed her to explain exactly what she meant by feeling that her history/culture/heritage were being attacked, while she drew a line between “her/our” history and that of Native Americans, and that she had felt reverse racism directed at her.

IMHO, what she was displaying is the lack of awareness, historical tone-deafness, and callous disregard displayed by so many of us white people in the USA of the 21st century.

First off–though there is certainly room for debate on the subject–many feel that “racism…is an institutional and systemic belief that is only a tool of the powerful”. (“Can you be racist against white people?” – Irish Times, (8/11/18) – https://tinyurl.com/y7dvyxpe). From that perspective, what we heard from Lisa was actually an expression of white fragility and xenophobia.

Second, I understood Lisa to be arguing for the holding up of “white” history and heritage. We continue to be in denial in this country about the horrors of slavery and genocide, which–along with rapacious resource extraction, environmental degradation, and socio-economic injustice–actually are major aspects of the history of domination by the white power elite in this country. Are those the aspects of “her” history she wishes to extol, and whose legacy she wants to pass on to her children? Perhaps so, since many benefits accrue to us whites through these disparities. She should be honest about what she really means by “our” history.

Lisa repeatedly (and disingenuously) asked “What can we do to live in peace now?” Since she apparently showed up at the forum only to do battle from the (R) side of the aisle, she did not listen to or respond to the immediate answer offered by Erik Rydberg, who suggested that a good place to start would be to acknowledge and respect the desire of the remaining local native people (and many others of us) to remove the statue because its history and what it represents to them is offensive for multiple reasons. It seems to me that the statue’s removal is a minor and entirely symbolic gesture, one that hardly touches the horror inflicted upon these people, which they have not forgotten.

If Lisa and other people who subscribe to her beliefs truly wish to live in peace with neighbors who may not look or believe the way they do, they would do well to learn to better listen and interact respectfully, to acknowledge the suffering of others, and to self-examine their white privilege.

Sincerely,

Steven Kossow, Arcata

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11 comments

  • “If Steven and other people who subscribe to his beliefs truly wish to live in peace with neighbors who may not look or believe the way they do, they would do well to learn to better listen and interact respectfully, to acknowledge the suffering of others, and to self-examine their pc privilege.”
    There, fixed that for ya.

    If you’re going to highlight the issues, we’re all ears.
    If you’re going to bash the speakers, the people, then … wait… isn’t there a rule on this blog against bashing the people instead of the issues? I guess not.

    My impression from the letter? Lisa has big balls, to voice her thoughts in a hateful room! Go Lisa!
    Where can this be viewed? I like to hear for myself before taking other’s words for it. Got link?

      • Shoot her! Trailer trash. She’s doomed.

        “Us white people” says a lot about thinking one has the right to correct a whole race. I imagine the letter writer thinks he is being magnanimous and civil when his letter is patronizing, silly and tone deaf. Imagine if he said a black woman was shouting over people and showed a lack of awareness. Whoa. That’d go over well. If it won’t fly for one race, it won’t for another . No matter how much hot air is expended in the attempt.

        Decency and tolerance is not an a la carte menu where you pick one. Either you are decent and respectful to all or you’re not decent and respectful.

      • So shoot the Trailer Trash? How very precious…

      • What does moving here in 1968 and living in a trailer have to do with her voicing her thoughts at a meeting which was then pounced on by the author of this article?
        The letter she wrote mentions how she’s attacked and called a white supremacist and other nasty names, but she never declares herself to be of that persuasion.
        Her letter reminds me of something Candace Owen would write. Is that what’s bothering people? A strong woman not afraid to speak her mind? I don’t get it, I really don’t. I’ll need to hear the entire tone of the room, which is why I asked for a link to the author’s meet.

    • No bashing occurred. I respectfully reacted to Lisa’s viewpoints and raised general issues that Lisa’s attitude and comments brought to mind, such as white privilege and fragility whether there can be racism against whites in a culture where whites are dominant. And I made it pretty clear that I am white. We live in a racist culture and when you are a member of the dominant race, it is often difficult to see how you are being racist, or how you are benefiting from your position of dominance. Me included.
      Shak, I don’t see you responding to any of the issues I raised, just responding to perceived bashing. Care to share your views on those issues?
      Here’s the link to the TNT archive: http://www.khsu.org/programs/thursday-night-talk

      • Thanks for the link! Please be kind enough to include it in your next opine article so we’re not flying blind. Thanks in advance.

        I was afraid I’d be biased after reading this article, but I was pleasantly surprised. The discussion was enlightening, the hostess refreshingly non biased & the guests came from different backgrounds and education. Win Win.
        It did get a bit heated here and there, but overall, I felt it went smoothly.

        I didn’t sense any entitlement syndrome, racism, or anger from Lisa, like you did. I felt she did become irritated whenever she wasn’t listened to, but she handled it well by stating it matter of factually. It’s never good to let things build up inside and she certainly avoided that.
        She wants to keep her childhood memories of the town and the historical buildings and community undisturbed by intentions. I think we can all appreciate that in our own lives.
        Lisa seems very worried that a chain of reaction will follow the removal of the ugly statue, with the historical buildings being next on the removal list, then the modern buildings, then the people., and so on. She really wants a firm answer as to where does the regressive pain end. The assurance that the list wouldn’t continue was not provided her.

        Her definition of her own love of history definitely lacked clarity, but as she said, she is not a public speaker or an activist and the words were difficult for her to formulate at times. She was nervous. Even so, she did a splendid job of standing her ground whenever she felt dismissed or laughed at.

        Lisa said she wants all parties to arrive at a consensus, and not place any party over any other. She said that no one is above any others.

        But, there were several speakers there, not just Big Balls Lisa. I really liked the one guy’s idea of installing an information table. I imagined it to look like at the zoo, with a row of history sheets under glass protection. Each party’s history could contain one sheet each (history books are constantly changing, but we all have a preference we cite more often than the others). We could have say 4 sheets altogether, all side by side. The Native’s version, the colonists version, the tourists version (oh wow mahn, I had no idea who this dude was & this history stuff is pretty cool to learn after all’ , and a ‘this is why we are never to idolize any person’s of interest and why we must always respect our history lest we repeat it’ version. The statue is a great educational tool, albeit an ugly one in many ways. If it can be moved, that’d be great too, but it would need to raise awareness in the new setting too, so I doubt there is any better place than where it is, for raising awareness and adding a university town type of educational tool to it’s vicinity.
        All voices get a say in this matter, not just one or the other. I trust the people to research and vote in the best interests of all.

        I’m worn out for the day & can’t articulate, which means I should leave this for another day, but I also got pumped up about learning more about the historical references behind the ugly horseless statute. The fact that they didn’t include a horse says a lot about the man that no horse would partner up with.

        I hope this answers your questions about the ‘issues’ you’ve raised. I didn’t see any historical issues in your diatribe about Lisa. If I missed them, please repost them.

  • “Afraid to walk to her car after dark.” Reminds me of the story of the girl who held her baby sisters freshly removed and tossed aside heart in her hands while hiding in bushes after her family was killed by invaders in the Mattole.

  • Kudos to Brenda Starr for producing and hosting that important show! Another example of how KHSU has proven it’s great value as a public service, local media source.
    We should all BEWARE of the ongoing hostile takeover of the community based station WE have developed and WE treasure!

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