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Sounding off: Political correctness and history

| Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, 8:57 p.m.
The statue of Stephen Foster in Pittsburgh's Oakland section on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
The statue of Stephen Foster in Pittsburgh's Oakland section on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017.

Pittsburgh's mayor should concentrate on real issues and not a “politically correct” agenda. If the Stephen Foster statue affects citizens' quest to live in utopia, then rewrite history books. Nothing bad ever happened in the world, particularly Pittsburgh. We have no drug problems, no drive-by shootings, no poverty; just beautiful streets lined with bike paths, transporting everyone to lucrative jobs.

Where does this end? George Washington had slaves; must we remove him from our currency? Must the Honus Wagner statue be removed from PNC Park? It glorifies a player from a time when blacks were excluded from the major leagues.

Must we demolish the Frick Building? Henry Clay Frick attempted to break the union in Homestead when nine men were killed. Union members must be spared anguish when walking past the Frick Building. And while we're at it, must we remove the Somerset County memorial recalling 9/11? This brings attention to al-Qaida, and their actions mustn't be glorified.

History is evolution. “Separate but equal” educational facilities were once the law. The Supreme Court finally said “no.” The changing times were needed to reach this result. Without a fundaental grasp and understanding of our past, we have no future.

Henry Miller III, Ross

Wednesday, Sept. 20

Political correctness is a spreading cancer. It is currently being used in a carefully plotted manner to exploit our country.

Rather than assimilating to our customs, values and traditions, people immigrating to America have complained and demanded that we make changes to our lifestyle and laws based on their religions, ethnic backgrounds or sexual preferences.

Fast-food chains are getting demands to change their menus. Bakeries are being told what cakes they are to bake. Saying “Merry Christmas” is called offensive. My religion fasts during Lent, but we do not demand that fast-food chains offer only fish during Lent.

Confederate history is being erased and street names changed because of a single deranged neo-Nazi alleged killer. Schools and hospitals are being forced to provide translators for non-English-speaking students and patients.

Hillary Clinton and others said the last election was one where it was a time to elect a woman (regardless of her honest qualifications and abilities, based on sex only).

Political correctness is a cancer in my book and it must be stopped.

George Biskup, Penn Township, Westmoreland County

Wednesday, Sept. 20

School taxes are too high

I was just reading the Headlining Hempfield community newsletter. I began to read the article from ($160,000/year) Hempfield Area School District Superintendent Tammy Wolicki, and I became more and more disgusted the further I read.

Wolicki stated: “The Hempfield Area School District Board of School Directors has been fiscally responsible in preparing a budget for the 2017-18 school year, while maintaining programming and a well-rounded education experience. … Despite the need to increase tax millage by 2.47 percent, the Hempfield Area School District remains low in comparison to other county districts. Ten of the 17 districts have a higher millage rate than Hempfield Area.”

How does your place in the millage rates prove fiscal responsibility? What cost-cutting measures have been considered? Has there been a study done by an independent source to improve efficiency and reduce waste? How does the median income of those 17 districts compare ($42,000 in Hempfield Township)?

Hundreds of properties in Westmoreland County, including many in Hempfield, were up for sheriff's sale this month due to delinquent taxes. How many senior citizens are among those losing their homes?

How many more increases will it take until no one can pay their taxes and maintain their homes?

I attended the school board meeting last month, and not one word was spoken of reducing spending by any school board member.

Mark Anania, Hempfield

Sunday, Sept. 17

DACA and who broke the law

Recent statements by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. have me completely confused.

Torsella said: “This decision by President Trump to end legal protection for those that were brought here without documentation when they were children is a cruel and cowardly choice.”

Question: How do you “end legal protection” for people who came here based on a program that is illegal and unconstitutional?

Casey said: “The ‘Dreamers' are young people who have lived in our country since they were children. They have been law-abiding residents who have learned English, paid taxes and secured jobs that allow them to support themselves and their families. Our government promised them that they would be protected if they came forward and now President Trump is breaking that promise.”

Question: How can Trump break a promise that was based on an illegal program?

Finally, Shapiro said: “I won't hesitate to do my job and take legal action if the federal government breaks the law as it ends its commitment to these young people.”

Point: The Dreamers program on its face was and is illegal, because it circumvented both the U.S. Constitution and Congress.

Since this program was established by the prior administration, the final question: Who broke the law?

David J. Bowie, Elizabethtown

Monday, Sept. 18

Blue slips and bipartisanship

Current and former Republican and Democrat Senate Judiciary Committee chairmen explained the bipartisanship embodied in the home-state-senator blue-slip requirement for judicial nominees. This is why, as the editorial “Senate's blue-slip bounce: End this tradition” quoted me, “no circuit court nominees have been confirmed over the objection of one (or two) home state senators.”

All Senate Republicans supported blue slips in a 2009 letter, as did a 2015 Des Moines Register op-ed and a 2016 post-election statement from Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said Grassley “told me he was going to follow the same procedures as chairman” and “has never broken his word to me” over three decades.

In a 2014 op-ed titled “Protect the Senate's important ‘advice and consent' role,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, stressed that “The blue slip process ... has greatly enhanced consultation and cooperation between home state senators and the White House. ... Weakening or eliminating the blue slip process would sweep aside the last remaining check on the president's judicial appointment power. Anyone serious about the Senate's constitutional ‘advice and consent' role knows how disastrous such a move would be … ultimately produc(ing) a more politicized federal judiciary.”

Glenn Sugameli, Arlington, Va.

The writer is founder and head since 2001 of Judging the Environment , a nonpartisan federal judicial nominations project.

Tuesday, Sept. 19

Don't watch; go, do

Another beautiful weekend on tap, and where will we find many grown men instead of spending time outside doing things or traveling somewhere with their families? Why, in front of the TV, watching the Steelers or a bunch of other pampered millionaires in tight pants running around with a ball, and chanting “Here We Go, Steelers” (which in itself really makes no sense).

Yes, in my youth I grew up playing football, basketball and baseball and watching all sports as young ones tend to do. As I grew older, a funny thing happened. I grew up and realized that doing things was much more enjoyable than watching others doing things.

Life is short. Spend your time enjoying what life has to offer or sit and watch life fly by.

Ray Lipay, West Mifflin

Thursday, Sept. 21

Legalizing pot is all about money

Why would we want to legalize marijuana? Money. All you are looking at is money.

Drugs are a problem now — what is this going to do for the future? Just like the legal gambling was to help our schools and cut our taxes. What happened?

Why don't we pull over speeders? You could make quite a bit of money. So many that we read about in the paper who have been pulled over have drugs on them.

Congress, please be more efficient in your own personal spending; I am sure there could be cuts there. We didn't elect you to get rich.

Arlene Pasinski, North Huntingdon

Friday, Sept. 22

Thoughtful alternatives to protests

I am afraid. From time to time, fallen human nature yields tremendously evil ideas such as racism, communism and Nazism. I abhor them all.

Of course, right thinking — that is, defining the good — is not religion's exclusive purview but is seen in towering philosophical figures such as Socrates, Aristotle, Plato, etc., who elucidated commonalities of truth. In fact, Socrates sacrificed his life for the truth.

Today, we watch groupings of individuals directly confronting perennial evils through mob demonstrations, tearing down statues, colloquially invoking Jesus, etc. Politicians add to the piranha-like feeding frenzy by feigning righteous indignation, bloviating in front of halls dedicated to simple-through-abstruse thinking such as the Carnegie Library.

There are thoughtful, less bestial alternatives.

First, stop using Jesus to support trite thinking; recall Pilate's retort, “Quid est veritas? (“What is truth?”). Sophists' thinking requires little truth.

Second, erect statues to those who opposed evil ideas, providing an antithesis to those standing. Real education provides the full truth, not a one-sided perspective.

Third, isolate the hate rallies; that is, ask people of goodwill to avoid the venue area, isolating ralliers from civil society. This will separate out the paid anarchist goons, calling out their traveling, brutishly dangerous ideology.

Finally, I am afraid that once Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and like-minded cronies “thoughtfully” tear down the offensive statutes, they will burn books deemed offensive at the Carnegie, followed by a parade of goose-stepping minions down the Boulevard of the Allies. What a great irony.

The Rev. James Holland, West Deer

Saturday, Sept. 23

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