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Brother Against Brother, Again

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Right and left. How did we come to this? We’re starting to hate each other and we think we know why but we’re not really sure. Lately it seems the ideology is irrelevant. Whatever the other side is for, my team must be against. Yes, we’re like teams. But some of the fans have gone overboard and are tipping the boat too far, dragging us down with them.

Full disclosure: The following is not an even-handed viewpoint because I’m so far to the left that I make a complete circle and come back to where I started, but I can see there is enough blame at either end to make a case for sharing the responsibility for the spiraling predicament in which we now find ourselves. America is falling apart in divisive anger and bad ideas. The extreme on the left wants to eliminate the police. Think about that. And the opposing fringe on the right insists that Trump won the election. But saying so doesn’t make it so. Let’s not let the ‘Big Lie’ become our new Pledge of Allegiance.

Why do we invest ourselves in illogical dogma with such vehemence? That’s what’s happening. Worst of all, we now see those deep divisions in many of our families, a malevolent spell cast on those we love.

Civil discourse seems to be mimicking the angry, yelling talking heads in the media. They are whipping us up. It seems to me that each of them appears to be running for office, or pulling for ratings that translate to advertising income, for them. Their platform is partisan division. Why do we let them get away with it? America is beautiful. Don’t let anyone scare you into thinking otherwise.

Thriving in a democracy equates to disagreements. That’s healthy, moves us along nice and slowly. Perfect. Don’t need threats, hucksters, autocrat wannabees or media induced histrionics. Why let violent agitators on the right or left spoil the barrel? They are bad apples, not your well-intentioned friends and relatives. We don’t have to rush the barricades at their instigation.

Our families on the right want respect, respect for the working man or woman, the lineman splicing your power line in a snowstorm. He or she should get the same respect AND income as the IT techie waiting at a warm cozy desk for the wireless connection to come back on. And the left wants equal rights and respect for the ‘others’ amongst us – LGBT, immigrants (from whom we all originate), people of color, and anyone else who is different. What do we care if someone is LGBT or Ronald McDonald? It has nothing to do with you or me. I don’t know a binary from a strawberry and don’t care. Why do you? We can’t catch ‘gay.’ They won’t hurt us. Respect.

Banning books may be the first step on the stairs to witch trials. No one is forcing you to read the books. Chill out. Go to a movie, a comedy. Watch reruns of Seinfeld. He’s hysterical. Better yet, keep ambitious politicians out of our schools and libraries. They’re making a mess of it.

Brother and Sisters, we’re all on the same team. Let’s root for America together.

Jay Buckner
Warren County, Virginia

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Opinion

Growing social division and its political symptoms

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Our country is more deeply divided than it has ever been. Just within the past weeks, we have seen the murder of nearly a dozen people whose only crime was being born with darker skin than that of the murderer.

State legislatures are imposing laws prohibiting all abortions despite the beliefs and desires of the majority of their constituents.

Conservative legislators are actually banning books and the seditious ideas they supposedly contain.

With midterm elections upon us, our so-called Representative, Ben Cline, is again begging for money and denigrating the people who don’t support him by calling their ideas radical and socialistic. Every month Ben Cline puts out a “newsletter” and every newsletter starts with complaints about President Biden. Instead of working to fix his constituents’ problems, he is taking the Moscow Mitch approach to politics by spending 100% of his efforts obstructing the Democrats. How does this help us pay for food and fuel? How does this help our country?

Why would anyone give Ben Cline money to draw the salary WE are paying so that he can continue to whine and complain?

Tom Conkey
Warren County, Virginia

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Opinion

Price of Progress

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Every year in May a colleague and I take about a dozen students on some type of weeklong outdoor experience. In the past we have done backpacking or canoeing, but this year we camped at different historical and environmental locations in western Oklahoma. We spent a few days camping at Black Mesa, followed by a few days at Alabaster Caverns, and concluded at the Battle of Washita. It was on our last day while watching a video about the Battle that a line caught my attention. The video asked, “What was the price of progress?” I have thought about this for a few days. Historically speaking, there have been too many instances to count where we thought we were doing the right thing at the time, in the name of progress, only to realize later that we had made mistakes. It makes me wonder, with so many social and cultural changes, what will our price be for progress.

During the Civil War in 1864, bands of Cheyenne and Arapaho began to attack whites who were encroaching on their lands. In response the Colorado militia under Colonel John M. Chivington attacked a village that included Chief Black Kettle. When the warriors fled, hoping to draw away the soldiers, the soldiers instead attacked the village mostly composed of old men, women, and children. The government acknowledge their wrong and in the 1867 Medicine Lodge Treaty promised to take care of the Indians if they moved to Indian Territory. However, the government did not fulfill their side of the bargain and whites continued to encroach on Indian lands. When the natives fought back and raided settlements, the army decided they needed to put a stop to Indian crimes and ordered General Philip Sheridan to punish they Cheyenne tribes. Sheridan turned to his trusted lieutenant and hero of the Civil War, Lt. Col George Armstrong Custer.

Though seen very differently today, Custer was one of America’s most popular celebrities. Made a General during the war at only age 23, Custer was one of the boy generals and was seen as a romantic dashing character. After the war he was commissioned a Lt. Colonel and followed his mentor Sheridan out west where he continued to build his fame as an Indian fighter.

On the other side of the battle was Black Kettle. Even after the Sand Creek Massacre, Black Kettle tried to work with the U.S. government for peace. He worked so hard for peace that his band was forced to separate themselves from the other Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Kiowa camped along the Washita River. On the morning of November 27, 1868, Custer with the 7th Cavalry attacked at dawn against the isolated camp of Black Kettle. Custer led one unit directly into the village while the others surrounded it to cut off escape. In the end between 30 to 60 Cheyenne lay dead, including Black Kettle. Custer then ordered the destruction of 650 horses belonging to Black Kettle’s people to hurt them in the future. It was only after the other camps began to arrive on scene that Custer retreated to Fort Supply. Here is the thing: today we see Custer as a villain, but in 1868 he was lauded a hero. He would go on to win several other major victories, each time increasing his fame. He was so popular by the time of his death at the Little Big Horn that the American population demanded revenge, which justified Sheridan’s scorched earth policy that devastated the Native tribes and forced most of them onto reservations.

It is hard for us to understand the popularity of Custer today. His methods were almost on the level of genocide, but he did it in the name of progress. At the time Natives were standing in the way of U.S. progress. Their outdated ways and beliefs were hurting America’s greatness. At the time Americans needed to grow. They needed more land.

The problem with Indians was that they had not changed with the times. They were too old-fashioned. For one thing, they did not use the land properly. In the U.S. view, land was meant to be tamed, to be controlled. You were not using the land properly if you did not section off what was yours with a fence, cut down the trees to build a house, and plow under the grass lands to plant crops. New technologies were allowing Whites to progress faster than ever before, with railroads and steel plows. Railroads needed to cross vast areas of land, lands that had been promised to the Native tribes. With these new technologies, as well as the discovery of gold on Indian lands, the U.S. government began to shrink Native lands, or move them somewhere else altogether. Forget that these lands had been theirs for thousands of years. They were in the way of U.S. progress.

It is hard for us today to grasp that in the late nineteenth century, the army was seen as in the right. Those who stood up for the Natives were seen as out of touch and against America’s progress. The Natives did kill Custer and his entire regiment. Anyone capable of such actions needed punishing. Yet the price of such progress was cultural genocide.

What is the price of progress that we will have to pay today? Nineteenth-century Americans could never have imagined that they would be judged harshly for their treatment of Indians, who were considered savages who were hurting America. What are we doing today in the name of progress that people will look back on in 100 years and think why did they allow that? What are we doing that could ultimately cause harm to our society or culture but yet seems like the right thing to do?


Dr. James Finck is a Professor of History at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and Chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium. To receive daily historical posts, follow Historically Speaking at Historicallyspeaking.blog or on Facebook.

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The Forgotten Variable in Pending Overturn of Roe v Wade – Unwanted Children

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I sat in church Sunday and heard my pastor say abortion is immoral and we should be okay with Roe v. Wade being overturned. It was hardly a trailblazing announcement, but it made me look around and assess the women in that room, many of whom I’d lay money on having had one. There were women of all ages but not too much diversity. Mostly white and mostly middle class. Mostly.

In the immediacy, this likely development doesn’t affect me personally. My uterus is safely on the other side of its sell-by date. The young women that I personally know seem largely indifferent to the fall of Roe v Wade (kind of reminds me of the Iraqis that wouldn’t fight for their own skin.) My two daughters are generally viewed as extremely ill-advised in the reproducing department.

Amelia tells me repeatedly that she has no desire for a baby. I blame Sofi for that. Sofi is 7 years old and who knows what she’ll want? Developmentally she’s about 2.5 years old (according to UVA) so with any luck, she’ll be menopausal before she chooses to be a biological mom.

So, what does this mean to me? Several things. It means Pro-Lifers are delusional if they think they’ll be good at caring for this new onslaught of unwanted children. They’ve done very poorly thus far. There will be more unwanted children languishing in substandard conditions. When a woman has an abortion she’s saying, “I can’t do this.” She means it, people. She always has. Legal and safe abortions tidied that up for all of society.  Orphanages were common until the mid-60s but less so afterward. So, there will still be babies to save. There always have been.

As for Pro-Choicers, well maybe these 50 years were an anomaly. Maybe what the world (or simply America) DOESN’T want for women dwarfs what it does. It DOESN’T want us to be equal financially because we’ve never been, and children are the why for that. It DOESN’T want us thinking we are equal without a willingness to reproduce – a common complaint among my childless women friends.

Legal abortion had its flaws (damnation being a common belief aimed at those unfortunate repeat offenders.) Far more interesting to me is the who, when, and why regarding those who do manage to step up to solve an unsolvable problem – unwanted children. The prevention of and care for will ALWAYS be battles that need fighting. The high-horse attitudes of both sides are laughable in the face of the misery that unwanted children cause, and indeed endure.

Ann Deans Masch
Fauquier County

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Opinion

Do the homework – and pray for all oppressed peoples

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Shireen Abu Aqla, a Palestinian Christian, reporter, and the mentor and close friend of a dear Palestinian Christian, reporter, and friend of mine of over 25 years, was brutally gunned down recently by the government of “God’s Chosen People”, despite clearly wearing a visible “PRESS” vest. Do your own homework.

While trying to hold a peaceful funeral, the officers of “God’s Chosen People” kicked and beat the pallbearers. Where is the outrage from “Christian” America? Where is the outrage from those who claim to be a “child of God”?, yet remain silent while one of your own is brutally slaughtered? Do your own homework.

So many had no problem jumping on the “Save Ukraine” bandwagon. By the way, I support the people of Ukraine 100%!! – I also happen to support the people of Palestine. I support the beautiful peaceful native Tibetans. For that matter, I support those in Russia who are eager for genuine peace, yet who are stuck with brutal and soulless regime, run by well-known thugs. Do your own homework.

I have to ask: have any of you who say you support Israel actually read that Bible you say you believe in? Please give it a try. Cool book! I’m a huge fan. Enlighten yourselves to the many times that “God’s Chosen People” turned their hearts against God, and God left them to deal with the consequences. Stop making excuses for the thugs and punks that operate against their supposed God at will, just because of a culture they cling to out of convenience, as opposed to purpose. Do your own homework.

Granted, one could say the same about the manner in which U.S. politicians support this brutal government and their paid assassins, all in the name of convenience, while possessing zero value for true faith in a loving and compassionate God, whom I choose to believe sent his son to die for my sins. I want nothing to do with the God of murderers, thugs and the politicians who support them all for self-serving convenience. Do your own homework.

While we all pray for the beautiful people of Ukraine, please (after doing your own homework) also pray for the beautiful people of Palestine. The horrors which the people of Ukraine have been subjected to have been part of Palestinian life for over 70 years. Don’t they, also, have a “Right To Life?!?”

Michael Sean Williams 
Front Royal, Virginia

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All in the training

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As an observer of the video on Mr. Ennis’s arrest, I have to agree with Mr. Candenquist’s letter to the editor.

There was no reason for the officer who came up behind Mr. Ennis to handle Mr. Ennis in the manner of which he did.

Could the officer have been a rookie, just out of training class? Did the officers not know who they were dealing with? I believe they had another encounter with Mr. Ennis before this encounter. Being at night does make an officer warier of approach, but there was enough light from cars and the parking lot to see this man did not even show a threat! WCSO and FRPD need not let officers that seem a little zealous make certain calls to certain situations.

We citizens need to have the utmost respect and trust in our law enforcement; this is one place, if not the last place, for defense against the bad guys and gals. Mr. Ennis was not a bad guy.

Tenia Smith
A former resident of Front Royal

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Shameful behavior exhibited in Mr. Ennis’s arrest clearly undermines the trust and respect that our police agencies deserve

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Having read the Police Report by Corporal Lowery, as reported in the Royal Examiner, filed on the occasion of the arrest of Ralph Ennis on April 2nd, it strikes me (no pun intended) that the law enforcement officers who made the arrest used excessive force when taking Mr. Ennis into custody. Mr. Ennis, according to the report, clearly posed no threat to the officers. I did not know Mr. Ennis, nor do I know his family and friends; my feelings are entirely objective as a point of fact.

It was observed by Cpl. Lowery, in his report, that Mr. Ennis was elderly and seemed confused. The report shows that Mr. Ennis did not exhibit any threatening behavior. What was the reason why the deputy ran up behind Mr. Ennis, strongly restraining him, and “jerked him around,” slamming his face into the camper top of his pick-up truck? Was it perhaps a broken tooth or teeth that Mr. Ennis apparently spit out onto the ground? Why was it necessary to apparently shove Mr. Ennis in such a way that he tripped over the hitch on the rear of the truck, causing this collection of apparent flailing individuals to fall to the ground, at which time Mr. Ennis struck the back of his head on the pavement?

Moreover, the vehicle video footage and the body-cam footage of the arrest of Mr. Ennis confirm that Mr. Ennis was simply standing still when the police officer ran up behind him, restrained him from behind, and slammed him into the back of the pick-up truck. Moreover, in the body-cam footage, a police officer clearly stated, when he got back into his car, that the manner in which Mr. Ennis was arrested “was uncalled for.”

Based on the police report and the footage, was all of this physical force necessary to arrest an elderly and obviously confused man who apparently posed no threat to anyone? His apparent dementia aside, might have Mr. Ennis have been exhibiting signs of a diabetic emergency, which mimic the behavior that Mr. Ennis was reported to have shown, based on the police report? There have been instances where drivers with a diabetic emergency have been roughly treated by law enforcement, with serious consequences; the training for an encounter with a potential motor vehicle operator with a diabetic emergency has been included in some law enforcement agencies.

It seems to me that the written reported and video recorded manner in which Mr. Ennis was arrested, and his subsequent death, led to the apparent nationwide mistrust of law enforcement agencies by the public in recent years. In these perilous times, when crime and complete disregard for any type of lawful authority is thoroughly out of control, we cannot abide from having our local law enforcement agencies exhibit unnecessary behavior when the situation, as indicated in the police report and in the video footage, clearly does not call for excessive and unwarranted force.

On the contrary, had Mr. Ennis exhibited threatening behavior or in any way resisted arrest, then the manner in which he was arrested could have been justified. What transpired in this particular case was, in my opinion, clearly unwarranted and clearly unnecessary.

Our police agencies have a very difficult time as it is to uphold the law and the rights of the public; they deserve the utmost respect as they perform their sworn duties. Such shameful behavior exhibited in Mr. Ennis’s arrest clearly undermines the trust and respect that our police agencies deserve.

I hope that such behavior, as demonstrated in the police report and video footage, is an aberration of the normal performance by our local law enforcement agencies, and those who were responsible for the manner in which Mr. Ennis was arrested are or will be appropriately handled. I attend church and occasionally shop in Warren County, and I do not like to be nor want to be especially wary of the police and deputies in Front Royal and in Warren County. The Sheriff in Warren County and the Police Chief in Front Royal are ultimately responsible for what happens with their employees in their respective jurisdictions, and it is their responsibility to ensure that such actions as this response to arrest Mr. Ennis do not happen.

Arthur Candenquist
Amissville, Rappahannock County

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