Ross: Inquiring minds, part two

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In the previous "Inquiring Minds" I referred to the fact that among the issues dominating public discussion this summer some are "manufactured" as opposed to being real. The problem is that when a manufactured issue morphs into a real issue by attracting attention to itself, the problem takes on a life of its own that is not justified by the realities that underlie the matter in question.

The most controversial and divisive example of this is the "Black Lives Matter" movement and the many questions that need to be clarified regarding the status of this organization in Vermont. (BLM is a corporation registered in Delaware.) No other organization has achieved the quasi-official position that BLM has in Vermont. The first question that needs an answer is, who, in Vermont, has argued that black lives do not matter? What level of government or public spokesperson has made the argument that black lives matter less than other human lives? Can anyone produce a law, or a court ruling or a policy statement by any official organ of government that makes such an argument? If you can, please do. The BLM movement claims that Vermont is guilty of being a society that practices "systemic racism." Systemic is defined as "affecting a whole group instead of individuals or parts of a group." It is hard to see how this can be applied to Vermont. Again, where are the laws, court rulings or public policies that segregate or discriminate against any racial or cultural minorities in Vermont? A few individuals may have prejudiced attitudes and act out accordingly, but this is not the same as having their prejudices enforced by law or applauded by society in general. Recently we had the incident in which Bennington's only black legislator was harassed and attacked with racial slurs by one person. This was an evil deed. However, what seems to be lost in the discussion is the fact that the legislator was elected twice by the voters in her district. Where is the "systemic" racism in this situation?

Several schools around the state have adopted the practice of flying BLM flags on their flag poles. How is this legal? Do our laws permit a public institution to fly the emblem of any other political party or corporation or interest group? Why is BLM afforded this privilege?

This is not a matter of free speech. It is a matter of using a supposedly neutral public institution as an endorsement. This is especially suspect because the purpose of a school is to educate, not indoctrinate.

Normally, graffiti is considered to be vandalism and is erased from structures such as bridges, streets and public walls. How is it legal that the Vermont Agency of Transportation is instructed to leave BLM slogans in place but to erase other graffiti, i.e., Blue Lives Matter? How is it legal to allow BLM slogans to be painted on the federal highway in front of our capitol, but to deny a request to paint a phrase from the Pledge of Allegiance nearby? Free speech may be in play here. High on the list of demands by the BLM organization are more political representation, ending state sanctioned violence by our police and reparations for slavery. These will be discussed in Part Three of this "inquiring minds" arc. Space constraints require that they be postponed. One question to be explored will be that since persons of African descent make up about 1 percent of Vermont's population, how much political representation can they expect to muster? Since the state police statistics indicate that no black persons have been shot or killed by law enforcement in 2019-20, what constitutes the "state sanctioned violence" by police? As for reparations for slavery, they are philosophically unsound, probably unconstitutional, illogical in concept and impossible to administer justly. We do have a lot more to inquire about!

Weiland Ross writes a regular column for the Journal.



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