In his July 17 letter to the editor, Joel Muenchau refers to me variously as a racist, as obsessed with white supremacy, as afflicted with "white guilt" and ultimately as an extremist.
Apparently, I am in good company. FBI Director Christopher Wray has testifed that presently the greatest threat to the United States is from white supremacist and white nationalist extremist groups and that is where the FBI has focused its attention. You could say the FBI is obsessed with white supremacist extremism. Not Al Qaeda. Not ISIS. Not Black Lives Matter. Not Donald Trump and his lemming cult followers' pet chimera, Antifa.
Is FBI Director Wray obsessed with race? Does that make him a racist? Is he afflicted with "white guilt"? Is Director Wray an extremist?
Yes, I am old enough to remember the fine Republican President Dwight Eisenhower sending the U.S. Army 101st Airborne to Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957 so that Black children could enter Central High School as the law required, and I still remember feeling proud of him for doing so and proud to be an American kid. I remember white "adults" jeering and spitting on the kids as they passed by. I was only 8 years old but I do recall it all clearly.
I was 13 when President John F. Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy sent U.S. marshals to Mississippi to allow James Meredith, a young Black man, to enter the University of Mississippi as the courts had ordered. There were a lot of jeering, spitting white people that day as well.
I remember Sheriff Bull Connor sending the dogs and firehoses after civil rights demonstrators at Selma, Alabama. I remember the fierce opposition from white people to busing in cities all over the country. I guess it would require a grasp of the concept of empathy to comprehend how any of that could make an impression on someone not directly involved. It is a concept that seems to elude Mr. Muenchau.
Whatever insults Muenchau directs at me personally, I have no problem with, but, no, I do not recall any racial incidents in Puyallup and his insult to the city is groundless and stupid. Puyallup was a farming community at that time. The small elementary school I attended was remarkably diverse with kids of color (Black, Chinese, Japanese, Native American and Filipino) in roughly equal numbers to us white kids. Our teachers were very competent and very kind. I can not recall any child being made to feel bad about themselves, nor should they be. Ever.
Puyallup High School had some rigorous, intellectually demanding faculty members in my time there. Really good teachers. They taught us to think critically, something that I have always been grateful for. One teacher in particular taught us how Section 1 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution drafted into law what the Declaration of Independence only stated theoretically, "All men are created equal."
If we learned nothing else from COVID-19, and it appears Trump Republicans have learned precious little, we learned that there are still great racial inequities in America of access to health care and many other services Mr. Muenchau probably takes for granted, such as good grocery stores and cooperative banks. Sadly, the election of Barack Obama twice to the presidency did not change much of that. Not with a Republican Congress who vowed to destroy his presidency, especially his attempt to expand healthcare.
I will take FBI Director Wray at his word.