Letters to the Editor: 06.07.18
June 3, 2018
The Retreat would not be where it is today without the thoughtfulness and quiet generosity of Ben Krupinski. I know there are many other nonprofits in our community who feel the same way. While Ben was known professionally for his superior construction projects, there were many projects that he gifted to community organizations without wanting any recognition (we tried).
When Ben and his wonderful staff, led by Ray Harden, renovated the shelter, Ben always had a concern for all the children that were there. Ben, with the generosity of others, rebuilt and expanded our shelter and donated so much in terms of labor and materials and his personal involvement. Without Ben’s generosity and leadership, we would not have been able to improve and enhance the shelter.
Ben has had a huge impact on our community and East Hampton is so fortunate to have community leaders like Ben who lead in their own way and partner with nonprofits.
This year, Ben donated the renovations to our administrative offices at 13 Goodfriend Drive. As a result, we can spend our funds on services and programs.
Our hearts go out to the Krupinski family and the family of the pilot, Jon Dollard. Ben’s lasting impact on this community and his loving nature will be remembered by us all.
LORETTA K. DAVIS
June 3, 2018
“Cowards die many times before their death,” Caesar tells Calpurnia, but “the valiant never taste death but once.”
This line from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” has resonated with me since the shocking and devastating news of Saturday’s plane crash in Amagansett, which took the lives of Bonnie and Ben Krupinski, their grandson, Will, and fellow East Ender, pilot Jon Dillard.
Bonnie and Ben were as fearless as they were kind, unflappable as they were generous. Any eulogy I might write pales in comparison to the outsize legacy that they built literally, from homes to cultural institutions to companies that provide so many their livelihood in this community. Just as they leave a proud legacy in our town, those of us who had the good fortune to know them personally will forever treasure the gift of their kindness and friendship. I will always hold them in my heart.
The tragedy is only compounded by the cruel loss of two others aboard their plane, who left us many decades too soon. Will and Mr. Dillard depart with lives and dreams and untold accomplishments yet to be fulfilled. We pray for them, and for all the families affected by Saturday’s tragic accident.
I mourn my friends Bonnie and Ben. I will honor their memory by always seeking to emulate their shining legacy of civic engagement, philanthropy, generosity, and kindness. Here’s to the lives of two great souls who lived life with gusto and with honor! We will miss you always.
June 3, 2018
A blanket of grief descended on all of East Hampton with the tragic and terrifying plane crash that claimed the lives of Bonnie and Ben Krupinski, their cherished grandson, and the pilot of their plane off Indian Wells.
The Krupinskis were a wonderful success story of local kids who made good. They take with them a work ethic and local sensibility that are irreplaceable. It is so difficult to process, to lose so much so quickly — a great disturbance in the kinship of community that links us together. It is as disorienting as it is devastating, as if our world is somehow off its axis.
I worked with Bonnie on the East Hampton Town Business Committee. She was kind, intelligent, a savvy businesswoman, was well respected for her abilities, and was equally respectful of differing opinions. It was a pleasure to work with her. The generosity that she and Ben demonstrated by their many, many acts of extraordinary philanthropy and benevolence to this community were rooted in their love for East Hampton and the people who live here. They really shared their wealth and success.
I’m heartsick over this and send my deepest condolences to the Bistrian and Krupinski families at this catastrophic loss. Small comfort in their bereavement, but I hope they know that the entire community grieves with them.
June 3, 2018
The news yesterday of the tragic deaths of Bonnie and Ben Krupinski, their pilot, and the unspeakable loss of a young grandson rocks us all profoundly. There is nothing more awful than the loss of a child. My heart breaks for their family.
I worked with Bonnie for several years as a fellow member of the airport management advisory committee. Although we were perceived by some to be on “opposite sides,” she an advocate for the airport, me an advocate for those affected by noise, we developed over time a very cordial and cooperative relationship. We agreed far more often than not, because, above all, she wanted things to work for everyone.
Bonnie was smart, funny, pragmatic, gracious, and always, always civil, no matter how hot the subject. She cared deeply about the welfare of East Hampton, where both she and Ben grew up and stayed to build their lives. As long as I have been here, they were, almost literally, pillars of this community.
To say that they will be missed does not scratch the surface. East Hampton is unimaginable to me without the Krupinskis.
Fly high above the stars,
my dear friend
You are free
No more suffering
No more sadness
Just beauty, peace
and eternal love
Your kind heart,
and quiet humor
will be greatly missed
Done So Much
June 3, 2018
To the Editor,
When I heard the news I just stopped cold. A great family that has done so much for the people of the community.
When I told him the food pantry was running short, he took care of it right away. He helped St Luke’s and many others — always quietly, the mark of a true gentleman.
Last week Ben and I were discussing a construction project at the airport. It is a commercial condominium like the one by Gabreski Airport, with help from the state. It would provide real jobs for a lot of people in East Hampton. I have done these before, and it is a lot of fun putting these together. We were both looking forward to it. Will keep moving forward on it, Ben.
Rain or Shine
June 1, 2018
To The Star:
Just because the driver can see doesn’t mean others can see them.
Raining today and one car after another does not have their lights on.
It should be a law that rain or shine headlights should be on when the car is turned on.
June 1, 2018
To the Editor,
Thank you, East Hampton Library, for letting me sing my heart out at your first karaoke night! First time using the microphone. Loved it.
I look forward to more fun evenings of song.
PATRICIA ANHOLT HABR
Plenty of Potatoes
May 29, 2018
In response to The East Hampton Star for the past two weeks: 1943 — 75 Years Ago.
I remember the potatoes story very well. I was 10 years old, which was right across the street from what is now a golf course, had plenty of potatoes to eat. All of us kids picked potatoes and put them in the cellars. All of us kids had to pick potatoes for the winter and put them in baskets or anything that would work. We had big potatoes all year round.
I had always wondered, even to this day, why at the end of the war, the whole potatoes field was plowed up and destroyed by pouring acid on all of the potatoes from the potato fields. We were only little kids and to this day we would like to know who would do such a thing and for what reason.
We all were poor, but we had plenty of potatoes. Someone knows why they ruined the potatoes. To this day, those of us still living still wonder why they were destroyed when many poor people could have used them. The last thought I want to leave you with is, “Yes, we had potatoes. We had potatoes in those days!”
Stories about potatoes in The East Hampton Star in 1943 explain that they were scarce, with only two pounds per person allowed in New York City. It also was reported in January that year that 3,000 bushels of potatoes stored in a barn at the Abe Katz farm were destroyed by fire.
The First Winery
June 3, 2018
Dear Mr. Rattray,
During the past 18 months or so I’ve attempted to avoid political rants, since my liberal leanings and beliefs are already well documented. You’re welcome for that. Although I will confess that the fetid level of social and political discourse among public figures in this country over the same period has darkened my spirits, made me want to lash out in anger. The vulgarity, race baiting, name calling, and hating seem to have reached some sort of fever pitch, on the left and right, and I just wish I could take about 100 people out back and wash their mouths out with soap (my mother would threaten that worked every time). Out of respect for the highest office in the land, I would start with the president. But I just said I was avoiding political rants, so excuse me while I eat some soap.
As you know, in lieu of rants I would often attempt to entertain myself and my 49 known readers in these pages with a special story we could all read around our beach fires (burning safely in metal containers of course). Stories such as the time several of us buried our dear friend in the dunes south of Further Lane. Or the time a neurosurgeon implanted a tiny chip in my brain as part of an M.I.T.-initiated experiment to capture a visual record of my thoughts and dreams. Or the time I visited the Social Security office in Jamaica, Queens, and successfully had my age reduced by 15 years (very upsetting to my daughter, by the way, who didn’t like the idea that she was only 10 years younger than her father).
But I digress, Mr. Rattray. This letter is written purely for the purpose of setting the record straight, in spite of the fact that, at the same time, I’ll be exposing a personal failure. Suck it up, Lyle. Here it is:
In the current issue of the beautiful magazine Purist (An Adventure In Wellness!), featuring on its cover the brilliant actor Rachel Weisz, there are many profiles of famous and not-so-famous people who look great and share some of their secrets for living better (meditation, terrible juices, body sculpting, fusion exercises, coaching, alone time, blah, blah).
Also in this issue of Purist is the story of Wolffer Estates, this year celebrating its 30th anniversary (bravo!), with a profile of Joey Wolffer, daughter of founding patriarch Christian Wolffer. In the article, Ms. Wolffer proclaims, “We’re celebrating being the first winery out in the Hamptons!” This assertion is repeated on the following page by Purist writer Abby Tegnelia: “the first winery to open in the Hamptons!”
Now, for all the purists out there in Purist land, I will set the record straight: the first winery in the Hamptons was not Wolffer. It was the Bridgehampton Winery, which opened its doors on the Sag Harbor Turnpike in Bridgehampton in 1983, approximately one mile from and five years before Wolffer. That year we released two wines from the 1982 vintage, a chardonnay and a dry riesling.
To my great embarrassment and loss, our estate vineyard had been planted on an absolutely terrible site for viticulture — a low, wet spot subject to severe frost and winter damage every third or fourth vintage. Ultimately, it was the ruin of the business, which closed its doors in 1995 (and is now the South Fork Natural History Museum, better than an abandoned wine cellar, I suppose).
During the Bridgehampton Winery’s decade-plus of wine production, our wines, all Long Island grown vitis vinifera varieties, earned over 100 awards in state, national, and international competitions. Our wines were carried in virtually every wine store on Long Island as well as the most prestigious shops in New York City. The Bridgehampton label could be found on the wine lists of extraordinary joints like Nick and Toni’s, the American Hotel, the Laundry, Four Seasons, Quilted Giraffe, Le Bernardin, and dozens more. (That label can also be found in the permanent collection of prints and photographs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.)
Credit for our winemaking triumphs goes entirely to our young, visionary winemaker, Richard Olsen-Harbich (who for the past eight-plus years has been winemaker at Bedell Cellars on the North Fork). Rich is a genuine artist in the cellar, and has been one of the leading figures in the Long Island wine industry since his early days at Bridgehampton. He single-handedly wrote the application for an American Viticultural Area (A.V.A.) designation for “The Hamptons, Long Island,” which was officially recognized by the Department of the Treasury in the 1980s. He then wrote the application for the North Fork’s designation, which also became official shortly thereafter. At some point during that period, a brilliant entrepreneur named Christian Wolffer stopped by the Bridgehampton Winery for some advice on where to get the best plant material for his new venture, which Rich graciously provided.
So. Congratulations to the Wolffer family, and to winemaker Roman Roth, on a remarkable achievement, succeeding with style and quality for 30 years! Pretty amazing in this challenging business. I wish the Bridgehampton Winery were still here, celebrating our 35th! But you can’t change the ground we started on. And you can’t change history: The first winery in the Hamptons was the Bridgehampton Winery.
Here’s to your best Summer In A Bottle ever.
The Bridgehampton Winery
June 1, 2018
There can be no friendship without confidence, and no confidence without integrity. You can’t prepare for where the truth will take you. A library is an arsenal of liberty. Always be who you are and say what you think, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. There is no wisdom for the uncontrolled. Wisdom is not hereditary. The only true wisdom is that you know nothing but strive to know everything. Understanding the limitations of human beings as well as your own is the beginning of wisdom.
In reality a problem is only a problem when it is viewed as a problem. Forget all the reasons it won’t work and believe in the one reason it will. Remember a word is like an arrow, once released it won’t return. Fear keeps failure alive. You cannot have a better tomorrow if you don’t stop thinking about yesterday. Remember data beats opinion every time. Don’t listen to what people say. Watch what they do. Success is not measured by what you accomplish but by the opposition you encounter. Your desire to change must be greater than your desire to stay the same. Without risks there are no rewards and without struggle there is no progress.
Great minds think independently not alike. Replace the fear of the unknown with curiosity. The only limits in life are those we set for ourselves. You can’t live life without error because life is error. Life’s real failure is when you don’t realize how close you were to success when you gave up. Passion is the trigger of success. Life is not about finding yourself it’s about creating yourself. Life is like a dog-sled team, if you aren’t the lead dog the scenery never changes. The biggest shortage of all is the shortage of common sense. We are made strong by the difficulties we face, not by those we evade. Worry is nothing more than a sustained form of fear caused by indecision. A bird sitting on a branch on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking. Because her trust is not in the branch but in her own wings.
June 2, 2018
Last week I wrote a letter to you in an attempt to express the real cost to the fishing community of 15 windmills (and more to come) built by Deepwater Wind on one of the most productive areas we’re still allowed to work. When I read your editorial last week concerning your thoughts on opposition to Deepwater I realized you didn’t get it.
I’m not asking you to change your point of view, I do believe in freedom of the press, but I wonder if your tone is a result of the full-page, full-color, propaganda advertisement Deepwater pays The Star each week. I also believe it’s hard to bite the hand that feeds you.
But, as to the point I was trying to make last week, after the long time I spent in public service I learned that few people have any concern about the cost of anything unless it costs them.
I asked readers to put themselves in the shoes of the fishermen by proposing a hypothetical situation that might affect them and try to imagine what the cost might be and if they’d be willing to bear it. I don’t know if anybody thought about it or not, but I’m going to make a request of The Star to ask that people do think about what they’re willing to sacrifice.
As a public service, I ask The Star to publish a list of pledges readers will make to a “green future.” Maintain the list through August and let us know the results. The pledge doesn’t need to be too burdensome. Perhaps, mow and rake the lawn by hand rather then using gas or electric power; take public transport to and from East Hampton instead of guzzling gasoline; turn off the pool pump and A.C. Businesses might close an hour early.
So let’s all do our part to “Sacrifice for a Better Life.” And please put the fishing community at the head of the list.
We must not give up our fisheries and fishing grounds, our history and our heritage to Deepwater. How about you?
Support and Approve
June 1, 2018
To the Star:
As a Boston, Mass., resident with a much loved and visited as often as possible, second home in East Hampton Village, I urge the Town Board and the town trustees to support and approve the South Fork Wind Farm.
JOAN BARKHORN HASS
Deserve More Detail
June 4, 2018
The East Hampton Town Trustee meeting on Friday, May 31, reminded me of the sad divisiveness at the national level of our nation. Not the trustees, they listened attentively to all of us who spoke. And in contrast to the last hearing on the wind farm, no one booed down speakers or sought to shut down anyone’s right to speak. Kudos to The Star for your editorial last week on respect at meetings.
First Michael Northrop (Rockefeller Brothers Fund and sixth-generation East Hampton resident) spoke eloquently of the threat to our fragile and beautiful community posed by climate change and ocean acidification, with fossil fuel as a major cause and wind an essential element in the great transformation to renewables.
He understands and expressed great empathy with the trustees over the complexity of the technical documents. He appreciates the trustees’ efforts to assure that any offshore wind project is done in the most environmentally appropriate manner, at low cost to ratepayers, and with a benefits package that can be used to protect and enhance our sustainability, resilience, aesthetics, marine life, fishing community, and efforts to clean up contaminated waterways.
After I spoke along similar lines, and thanked the trustees for the wonderful restoration of Pussy’s Pond near our home, then came the opponents of the proposal to allow Deepwater Wind to land its cable in Wainscott.
We can all agree on the call for more transparency, plus the desirability of more research and careful analysis of proposed contracts. The call by the commercial fishermen’s association for solid assurance of restitution for any harm that might come in the process to their equipment or catches is persuasive. Judging from the experience with the 4,149 offshore turbines in Europe, such harm is unlikely, and the benefits may well outweigh them.
But while opponents all claimed to favor renewables, they threw up unfair, misleading, and untrue obstacles that belied that claim.
The most outrageous was the allegation that Germany’s increase in carbon emissions in the last few years is the result of Germany’s substantial addition of wind to their power generation mix. The truth is that the cause is the closing of 8 of their 17 nuclear power plants after the dreadful Fukushima accident. The remaining nukes are slated to be closed by 2022.
After the meeting, I asked the speaker about it. Though claiming extensive expertise and experience in German power issues, he denied that Germany had closed these plants. Check it out yourself, it’s easy: Just ask Wikipedia “how many nuclear plants has Germany permanently closed?”
Another presenter showed lots of color maps and charts, as if to show deep technical analysis of the cables. He expressed outrage that the cable enclosure proposed by Deepwater Wind is large enough to fit more cable than currently contracted for. To the contrary, I, as an environmentalist who supports progress at scale to renewables, view that as simply good planning. As wind capacity grows, doesn’t it make sense to avoid a situation where some future offshore windmills need to dig again on the floor of the ocean or cross deep under a beach to site their cables?
The call for disclosure of more information on the financial aspects of the Deepwater Wind/LIPA/PSEG-LI contract terms and the possible impact on our electricity bills is entirely reasonable. Many states require such public disclosure. The New York State Office of the Comptroller has reviewed and approved the contract, so this information should be available to the public.
Valuable as Deepwater Wind’s proposed $8.5 million benefits package is, the board members and trustees deserve more detail on this as well. The latter could easily be accomplished in a brief period of time.
I favor the National Wildlife Federation’s recommendation that a limit be set on pile-driving activity at times of highest risk to endangered whales, but this matter is out of scope for the trustees. It can and should be addressed at the state and federal level.
None of these are insuperable obstacles nor reason to force siting of the cable landings elsewhere, thus forfeiting the benefits package and potential for local jobs.
I urge all of us to take advantage of the awesome “Energize East Hampton” programs to assist each of us to reduce our peak energy use and increase our energy efficiency.
And finally, I wish the trustees the patience and wisdom to make the best decision for East Hampton, exercising due diligence and respecting the broad support of our citizens for our commitment to renewables at scale.
ALICE TEPPER MARLIN
June 4, 2018
A summary of a recent incident, reported from a Texas court, gives us a sense of the extent of the depravity of the treatment being meted out to refugees to the United States. A woman, given the name Delia, was interviewed after her detention by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Before fleeing her country, she was for years beaten and threatened with death by her partner. He also threatened to kill their young child.
She fled her country weeks ago, seeking safety in the U.S. and eventually crossed the Rio Grande with her child on an inner tube. She saw three border patrol agents watching her and floated in their direction, so she could turn herself in and seek asylum — something to which every person in the world is entitled.
At the border patrol processing office, she told the officers of her beatings and her fear for her life, the officers scoffed at her story. They told her that she would be deported — without her child. The next morning, the child was taken. She fell to her knees begging not to be separated. Officials looked on indifferently, she said, as her child screamed incessantly and then disappeared.
You can find Delia’s (and others’) story on theintercept.com. We have elected a monster as our president; someone with no sense of humanity, no compassion for his fellow man — one consumed by the basest of human tendencies. There can be no other reason for his orders for the infliction of such cruelty on the most helpless of us.
Complicit in this is the G.O.P. in Congress, which continues to exhibit its own lack of core human values by permitting this atrocity to continue.
It is long past the time when we need to raise our hands and our voices and demand that this inhuman, and unlawful, treatment of asylum seekers end. One surefire way to accomplish this is to vote out every G.O.P. congressman and senator this November.
On June 26, we get to choose the successor to our G.O.P. congressman, Lee Zeldin (who unflinchingly supports Trump’s treatment of immigrants). You have seen the ads by Perry Gershon, one of the Democratic candidates — and whose grandparents were immigrants. He promises to fight for fair immigration reform, and reform that will curtail the Trump inhumanities. He deserves your support. I hope you will get out to the polls on June 26 and give Perry your vote.
June 1, 2018
I have joined the effort of Vote Hamptons N.Y. Exhausted and spiritually spent by the toxic nonsense of much local and national politics, Vote Hamptons N.Y. is a place where I can positively address my frustration. Vote Hamptons N.Y. provides a productive space for nonpartisan, interfaith dialogue in the pursuit of raising a civic consciousness. Voting is our thing.
I am honing my criteria for a worthy candidate: No one who lies. No one acist. Someone authentic. Someone who listens. Someone who learns from their mistakes. Someone we can all be proud of.
All good things,
For Kate Browning
May 29, 2018
To The Editor:
I have never been a particularly political person, and I have certainly never written a letter like this one before. But we are having a Democratic primary on June 26 to see which candidate we will put up to try to unseat our current congressional representative, Lee Zeldin. If ever there was a time to speak up, it’s now, and so I would like to explain why I will be voting for Kate Browning.
It bothers me terribly that I am currently represented in Congress by a man like Lee Zeldin. Zeldin was one of Donald Trump’s earliest and most enthusiastic supporters. He coauthored a bill that would allow concealed-carry reciprocity in New York and accepted $29,000 in donations last year from the National Rifle Association. Steve Bannon threw him a fund-raiser, as will Donald Trump Jr. in August. Zeldin is on the wrong side of health care, the environment, immigration policy, and just about everything else that I believe in. There is nothing I want more than to defeat him in November.
But I recognize that, as much as I dislike him, Zeldin remains popular with many people who live in the western half of the district, and those towns represent more than 75 percent of the vote. Luckily, we have the example of previous elections around the country where Democrats were able to win in similarly constituted congressional districts by focusing on local issues.
Of the five Democratic candidates running in the primary, Kate Browning is the only one who, as a result of her dozen years as a Suffolk County legislator, has both a strong grasp of local issues (she’s encyclopedic on water and other environmental cases) and an unbroken string of electoral victories. What makes this achievement even more impressive is that Kate is from Zeldin’s hometown and has won six times in his home district.
And she didn’t win all those victories because she was a Republican in disguise. Kate is pro-choice, pro-environment, pro-gun control, and pro-health care and immigration reform. As an immigrant and naturalized citizen herself, Kate is determined to stop Immigration and Customs Enforcement from breaking up families and deporting people who have not committed violent crimes. And she didn’t come to these positions as a matter of convenience or to win an election.
For the past eight years, long before she thought about running for Congress, Kate has volunteered at her local library, where she is on the steering committee, for their community family literacy program. In addition to promoting literacy and helping immigrants through the process of earning citizenship, this program provides scholarships to help with citizenship application fees, free day care and tutoring for schoolchildren to help with homework, and acquaints participants with other services and programs that might be useful to them. Her longtime leadership of this initiative underscores her concern for, and desire to help, immigrant families in Suffolk County.
I’m not voting for Kate because I believe she has the best chance of winning in November (although I do believe that); I’m voting for her because I admire her. I have met Kate several times now, and I am impressed with her courage, resilience, and above all, her quiet decency.
She was born and raised in Belfast and worked as a school bus driver when she first came to this country to help make ends meet and be around for her children when they came home in the afternoon. Her fellow bus drivers thought enough of her to make her their shop steward. One day, she asked her Suffolk County representative, who also happened to be the Republican majority leader, to support the drivers union in a contract negotiation with the bus company. Fearing to damage his re-election prospects, he refused, so she ran against him and beat him. She has been in the Suffolk County Legislature ever since, until she was term-limited out. I would be proud to have Kate Browning as my congresswoman.
June 4, 2018
I was shocked to read Manny Vilar’s letter in your May 31 edition.
Eight students and two teachers were shot at the Santa Fe, Tex., high school and all Mr. Vilar could do was criticize the press for shouting “Enough Is Enough” as loudly as they can. Then, he told us that despite the death toll in school shootings being higher than active military deaths in 2018, we should take a breath; according to Mr. Vilar, this is tolerable.
According to Mr. Vilar, everything is all right because guns killed only some 34,000 Americans in 2016 (12,000 in gun-related murders) compared to 1993 when almost 19,000 firearm-related murders occurred. Apparently, Mr. Vilar is content with this level of carnage and demands an end to the partisan opposition to the G.O.P.’s abject refusal to consider any rational level of gun safety legislation.
Instead of any legislative reform toward reducing the gun carnage, he asks us to watch the “Run, Hide, Fight” video, as if it is the balm for the current senseless killings. So, in Mr. Vilar’s world, movies will solve school shootings and all other senseless killing, while gun ownership remains sacrosanct. I would like to see him explain this clueless logic to the parents, siblings, and friends of the kids and teachers being shot relentlessly across the country.
Mr. Vilar’s twisted logic is shared by our congressman, Lee Zeldin. Mr. Zeldin staunchly opposes any efforts to improve gun safety, including rejecting two bills that would have limited Social Security recipients and Veterans Affairs patients who have been diagnosed with mental disorders.
To quote the students: Enough is enough. On June 26 there is a Democratic primary in which we will elect the candidate that will replace Mr. Zeldin in November. Please join me in supporting Perry Gershon. You have seen his campaign ads in which he promises to fight for sensible gun safety reform. We need real reform, not movies, and Mr. Gershon is the right candidate to deliver it.
June 4, 2018
To the Editor:
The good thing about moving our embassy to Jerusalem is that we will no longer have to pretend that we were ever an honest peace broker with the Palestinian people.
Nikki Haley and her use of the United States veto at the United Nations makes me embarrassed to be an American.
June 3, 2018
In a recent conversation about racism in the United States the question of affirmative action was raised and quickly dismissed. If you didn’t understand the need for affirmative action you were an idiot and couldn’t be part of the conversation. Which, while true when it came to minorities and women, expanded to a larger and more interesting subject when it came to white workers as well.
In 1961 J.F.K. and in 1965 Lyndon Johnson passed executive orders to deal with racial inequalities in hiring and treatment of minority workers. In 1967 the law was expanded to include women. Both Kennedy and Johnson understood that racism was a large part of the American way of life. For 400 years it permeated every aspect of our existence. In our democracy where “all people are created equal” it was and is a grotesque indictment of our government and the American people.
White workers responded negatively to the idea of affirmative action and right-wing groups picked it as a flash point in the struggle for the white working-class vote. But like every right-wing flash point issue from abortion to right to work rules, to health care, to bank regulation, affirmative action was all about taking things away from people and making their lives a little bit harder. Except, in the case of black Americans, who have lived with two feet on their necks (See Notorious R.B.G.) since they first arrived as slaves and understood that making things harder meant the grave.
Talk that black people were treated well as slaves and lived decent, if not free, lives has long been abandoned and while everyone seems to recognize that slavery and the next 150 years weren’t a walk in the park they don’t fully comprehend “the two feet on the neck reality.” Yet, white workers could almost feel the pressure and their reaction was “What about us?” The pressure was and is real and could be fairly described as “one foot on the neck.” Because, while black people have been battered and brutalized, white workers have also taken a pretty good hit.
One of the more insidious aspects of a slave-based culture is that the slave treatment mentality permeates the non-slave community. The chains become figurative, legal, and social but are often equally effective. There is a direct causative relationship between the collapse of the U.S. middle class and the society’s racism.
The ability of corporate America and our government to marginalize and debase our middle class is simply a function of transferring the tools of racism onto that part of the population. Instead of chains we use debt, low wages, and a heavy dose of someone dark and foreign to blame. A modified form of American fascism wrapped in the flag.
So, affirmative action is certainly justified for minorities and women but it is also justified for the white working class. Unfortunately, when one looks at the tax cuts, the budget, and the plethora of executive orders the only group that is being affirmed are the wealthiest Americans.