Letter: D is for Democracy, not Disrespect

Posted 8/10/21

To the editor:

How sad it is that a good argument can be made that the “D” in America’s DNA stands for Disrespect.

Slavery and its aftermath and the massacre and …

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Letter: D is for Democracy, not Disrespect


To the editor:

How sad it is that a good argument can be made that the “D” in America’s DNA stands for Disrespect.

Slavery and its aftermath and the massacre and marginalization of native Americans were together the genesis of reviling the “other.”  But we didn’t stop there.  Every wave of immigrants, themselves disrespected, disrespected subsequent waves. Disrespect characterized and consumed regional, class, and religious groups.  Children were disrespected and became farm and factory workers at tender ages.  And women!  While they were always the glue of family, farm, and factory, their toil wrecked their health and happiness.  Chinese workers were vilified even as they built railroads and dams.  Japanese Americans were interred during WWII, even as their sons fought so bravely in our Army.  And right up to today disrespect for Latinos and Jews and Muslims is a national disgrace.

I get it that so many working families, especially in small towns and in rural America, feel disrespected by the coastal educated “elites.” Yet, they too are culpable.  Hillary Clinton was not wrong to use the “deplorables” term.  She should have used it for all of us! 

President Biden has talked time and again about bringing us together as one America.  By that he does not mean puréed pablum.  He means a menu of excellent, delicious choices.  Choices of occupation, belief, and dreams.  Yes, he sees a brighter future for everyone but only if everyone can agree on a few basics:  Democracy strengthened; climate change understood and reversed; health care available to all; excellence in education in reach of all; and jobs that afford everyone a decent living and dignity in our neighborhoods. 

It is much easier to lance the boil of disrespect when it becomes clearer over time that our basics are widely shared.  When they are, we can huff and puff about athletes’ salaries or about the younger (or older) generation or about political gridlock.  But, like family squabbles, we can see ourselves in others and end our squabbles, perhaps not persuaded but with our common sense intact and our sense of humor unbroken.

All governing is complex, difficult, and often maddening.  But our basic form is the best ever, grounded as it is on the will of the people.  Imagine our more perfect union if we changed the “D” in our DNA from Disrespect to Democracy. 

Will Newman


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.