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Editor replies to Kushner’s criticism and perspective on what a newspaper should be

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Mr. Kushner has always taken my replies, clarifications, whatever you want to call them, personally. I have told him more than once, they are not personal, but simply an editorial reaction to his presenting his opinions as facts, particularly when those opinions advance a partisan political ideology. It is a policy not reserved for him alone, but done on any Letter to the Editor sent to me for review that presents opinions as facts in any context. I’ve found on most occasions when explained that it is the wording presentation, rather than the expression of an opinion I might personally agree or disagree with, the writer is willing to reword to avoid confusion, and in some cases potential libel or slander liability which this paper will not risk. Mr. Kushner has made it clear he does not appreciate his submissions being suggested for rewording, particularly by me, so that course is not pursued. Hence, responses for clarification such as the one tied to his open letter to Joe Manchin.

And may I point out that while Mr. Kushner’s personal sense of “his space” on our editorial page may be offended by it, attaching an editorial response to reader submissions when necessary is not an unprecedented Opinion page methodology, though in a virtual world it may bear rethinking. And actually, I liked the separate, adjacent reply with its own headline better than the originally submitted editorial note at the end of his letter. But there was certainly no “scurrilous attempt” to conceal the response from him – but “paranoia does strike deep; into your heart, it will creep” (a musical nod to The Buffalo Springfield’s ‘For What It’s Worth’)

Let me begin where Mr. Kushner ended his 2214-word commentary on my 4-point reply to his Manchin letter, with his closing accusation that my belief system, which I have attempted to accurately represent below, as opposed to his negative stereotyping, doesn’t reflect “the majority conservative perspective of our community” and should perhaps disqualify me from continued employment at Royal Examiner.

I will say that my publisher and I, while we may not always agree on the national political scene, agree that our job, the job of any responsible newspaper, is not to represent a community’s majority political opinion, nor anyone else’s, as truth, but rather to accurately report what we cover, and ask appropriate questions to give context, motive, and any other relevant aspects to governmental and citizen initiatives and actions impacting the community. If we feel it necessary to deliver an opinion, it is so identified.

To bend reporting to reflect a majority’s, or minority’s for that matter, partisan political ideology is commonly known as “propaganda”. And in many totalitarian societies, such partisan ideology promotion masquerades as “news”.

Verbally and in writing, Mr. Kushner tends to present his highly partisan political opinions as objective facts. Consequently, on the letter-writing side, it has fallen to me in an editorial role to point out where his opinions and objectively supportable facts may clash. Since Mr. Kushner seems not to believe in any truth outside his partisan ideological perspective, that has brought us into conflict. And since we have personally talked enough about our relative socio-political perceptions for him to have developed a not entirely accurate perception of my politics, Mr. Kushner attributes political motive to my editorial comments on his letters.

As to Mr. Kushner’s assumptions about my belief system, let me say that I do not give blanket approval to social welfare programs not thought out to balance the “general Welfare” and the national economic means to achieve that welfare. Let me also say, I do not believe everyone or even a majority in need of social welfare are lazy people, often stereotyped as a specific race, seeking a free ride on the backs of hard-working people. I might add that Democratic Administrations are not the only ones to operate at a budget deficit, and Republicans generally manage to create their deficits without the variable of social safety net programs vilified as “free rides for the lazy”.

Let me reiterate several points I have made to Mr. Kushner verbally in the past, several of which he continues to ignore:

1 – I am a political independent, and have never been registered to ANY political party, in my life. I have not been a fan of either the Republican or Democratic Party national hierarchies since the 1970’s when I studied Political Science as an elective in gaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology, with credits for a minor in Psychology from VCU. All three of those disciplines, I believe, gave me an excellent perspective to eventually end up in the field of journalism and political governmental beat reporting.

2 – My socio-political perspective guiding my personal beliefs is that a person must balance personal liberty with social responsibility to their neighbors, and to the nation as a whole. No, I don’t believe in unnecessary governmental influence in one’s personal business conducted at home or on private property. However, when one’s personal business is taken into the streets, into the general population, how behaviors impact others must be a concern of every citizen. People who couldn’t accept that standard, I believe used to be called hermits – because at least they had the courtesy to take their anti-social tendencies away from the society they did not want to be a part of.

3 – And yes, I do believe the wealthy, the truly rich, should be taxed more than the middle and lower classes to support general welfare and other governmental programs to a national and collective good because they can afford it.

Does that make Roger – OH, SHIVER-SHIVER – a progressive socialist philosophically aligned with leftist “demons” like Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders? Perhaps, though I have recently created a new political category for myself to explain conflicting perceptions of what I believe socially and politically. I have declared myself the first “Conservative Anarchist” – at least I think I’m the first.

What is the Conservative Anarchist ideology, you may ask: It means that while I don’t believe in any societal rules to limit my behavior, I don’t believe in breaking the existing rules either – hence, Conservative Anarchy.

That said, as to Mr. Kushner’s objection to my first point on the opening paragraph of the U.S. Constitution’s reference to “promote the general Welfare” as a fourth and “final” specific goal in establishing the rationale for the Constitution guiding the American nation while leaving out “and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” I will admit to looking at that final phrase differently than the four preceding it. That difference to my mind was the more general nature of the reference to “Blessings of Liberty” – Liberty from what, the British Crown and British taxes? Or perhaps from a notion 200-odd years later that an effort to minimize rampant domestic mass murder incidents by instituting legal controls on who could own and in what social settings firearms, hand-held semi-automatic weapons in particular (which didn’t exist in 1787), could be publicly carried?

Regardless of your perspective on that 21st-century liberty issue, it seemed to me that “Justice” (treat everybody fairly by a set legal standard), “domestic Tranquility” (a social expectation of general livability), “common defense” (an organized central defensive force), and “general Welfare” (survivable living conditions for the general population) were all more specific and easily identified references, while “Blessings of Liberty” was a more general end result of the previous four. If mistaken, I apologize. But I ask, how in 1787 might the Founding Fathers of the American experiment in democratically based representative government have viewed personal liberty issues of the 21st century? Since they’re not here to ask, we can only guess and express opinions, so here is mine:

Somehow I doubt it would be the “Me First/Every Man for Himself” personal liberties outlook of the late 20th and early 21st centuries that would arbitrarily judge an individual’s right to act their opinions out in a public context, above the group’s right to collective survival. Particularly with their introductory concerns about insuring “domestic Tranquility” and promoting “the general Welfare” – their capitalizations – I doubt the Founding Fathers would share the modern Sovereign Citizen or Libertarian perspectives on securing “the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”.

And that IS my opinion based on readings about them, and the written words of some of them on their collective desire for the new American nation to strive toward a more perfect union, including the final line of the Declaration of Independence in which the signees, some wealthy landowners: “mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor” in support of the creation of the new, independent nation” outside control of the British government they were about to go to war with.

And as to Mr. Kushner’s lengthy analysis of presidential election results, congressional majorities, and minorities, and legislative mandates I will say a few things:

In addition to gaining the White House by a nearly 7-million vote majority in 2020, the Democrats currently have working majorities in both houses of Congress, despite the gains Republicans made in the House in 2020 – This isn’t advanced math, Gary, a bigger minority (in the House of Representatives) is STILL a minority. So, it would appear that currently, the Democrats do have a legislative majority, coupled with a president, elected by the American people with which to forward proposals reflecting their socio-political agenda, just as Republicans do when they have the majority.

And in my opinion, Mr. Kushner’s level of outrage at that thought appears to reflect an increasing tendency of the American political right to stereotype people and legislation they disagree with as fundamentally “evil”, often in a religious context, and allied with shadowy figures of darkness like Communism, the Chinese (also Communists), Dr. Fauci and the medical establishment, or perhaps Satan himself, rather than simply Americans with differing social and political perspectives with whom one can negotiate toward a resolution regarding costs and details for a common American good.

Is believing in and striving toward an economically elevated common good such a sin?

Should people who believe in legislatively lending a helping hand to the less fortunate among us be characterized as shadow communists, or on a more fundamental level, evil? I don’t know, maybe we should reference the historical record of the teachings of Jesus for an answer. And while Jesus didn’t lobby for governmental legislation “to sell your possessions and give to the poor” he did threaten the withholding of heaven from those who failed to follow his instructions, and there were many given in this regard.

And on the subject of “Saviors”, including self-anointed ones, as to the rightful occupant of the White House, we’re back to square one with Mr. Kushner: “There is irrefutable evidence that voting activities occurred in 2020 in several states that were inconsistent with procedures approved by their legislatures which resulted in illegal votes that could have influenced the election outcome,” he wrote.

Opinion, Gary, not fact.

And in my editorial opinion, one verified by every court review – was it 30? – often overseen by Republican-appointed judges, and reported by reputable news sources (to some degree anyway, as opposed to online conspiracy websites) the only verified 2020 electoral fraud found by any court, or legitimate recount in any state, as I understand the reports, amounted to 12 votes here, 30 votes there, and the like – the type of individual pathological behavior fraud that occurs in every election, but not an organized institutional fraud in the numbers to have changed any state’s presidential result in 2020.

So, no matter how many places you read it, Gary – NO, the ghosts of Manuel Noriega and Fidel Castro did not rise up into 2020 voting machines to “white-out” – that’s the technology those ghosts would understand, isn’t it?!? – millions of Trump voters. Didn’t happen – and that IS my opinion, but one based in a factual, not an “alternate factual”, universe.

And while I have a hunch, you won’t agree no matter how many state courts and state legislatures contradict your opinion, I think we have both sufficiently made our respective cases – and will just have to agree to disagree.

Consequently, I have editorially recommended that publication of our conflicting perspectives on reality and journalism end here.

 

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Warren County parent endorses Funk for School Board in Happy Creek District

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I would like to share my endorsement and support of Dr. Antoinette Funk, candidate for the Warren County, Virginia School Board, Happy Creek District.

Dr. Funk and I served on the Warren County Public Schools Special Education Advisory Committee for 7 years. On this committee she inspired many of us to become more knowledgeable of our role and to better organize our work. As a parent, she appreciates the importance of a school district having a good line of communication with families, as an education professional with experience in teaching and working in school administration, she understands the many responsibilities that schools face, and as a long-time resident of Warren County, she appreciates the importance of a school district being the best that it can be to serve the families of a community. Her experience as a parent, a resident, and an educator will give her a uniquely broad perspective as a school board member.

As election day approaches, please consider what is needed on our school board and consider voting for Dr. Antoinette Funk for the Happy Creek District School Board Member of Warren County, Virginia.

Laurie Adams
Warren County Parent and Resident

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Opinion

Hypocrisy in Sports

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historically speaking

To start, let me say something about myself. I love sports. I was a three-sport athlete in high school and I still love playing sports now (though badly). I love watching sports, both on TV and in person. I have a son on the high school baseball team and never thought I would enjoy watching as much baseball as he plays, but I do. I have heard sports described as either soap operas or reality shows for men. It really is as Jim McKay used to say: “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” The problem is that sports are meant to be fun (unless my Hokies and Razorbacks both lose as they did last week) but, with the politics of the day, they are losing some of their enjoyment as mindless entertainment. What is really starting to get hard is the hypocrisy in sports, yet, historically speaking, maybe it always has been this way.

The big news of last week was the resignation of Las Vegas Raiders Coach Jon Gruden. At first, I was not sure what I thought about an email sent eleven years ago but, as more and more inappropriate emails began to surface, it became clear that he needed to go. His emails were full of racist, homophobic, and sexist language that the NFL has condemned. It is right that the NFL condemns this type of language and the League has tried recently to stand up for what is right.

What makes it hard to accept, however, is that with its moral outrage, NFL is also allowing a Super Bowl half-time show featuring Snoop Dogg, Eminem, and Dr. Dre. You may be aware of these artists, especially Snoop Dogg, who is becoming a cultural icon with his laid-back persona and commercials with Martha Stewart. However, if you are not, I would love to give you a sample of their lyrics, but I can’t because most papers would not print them. Their songs are full of racist, homophobic, and sexist language, much worse than Gruden’s. Add to that the violence and drug use these entertainers promote. I want to say sports can’t have it both ways, yet it does.

There is plenty of modern history showing the hypocrisy of sports. Most recently is Lebron James, who claims to be a champion for social justice yet attacked Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey for supporting democratic protesters in China. China was threatening to cut ties with the NBA, meaning James and the NBA could lose millions. James said of Morey, “But I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand and he spoke.” It seemed what James really meant was Morey may not have been considering how much he might lose by supporting oppressed people not in America.

Then there is Nike, who also claims to support social justice and human rights. Nike used major social justice warriors like Megan Rapinoe and Colin Kaepernick in its ads but also refused to pay a real wage to workers in third-world countries, helping to keep those workers in poverty. There are championship sports teams that took their conservative players to meet Democratic presidents but refused to take their teams to either Bush’s or Trump’s White House. Then there was Monday Night Football, which dropped country legend Hank Williams Jr. for comparing President Obama to Hitler, while having no issues with artists and celebrities who made the same references to Trump.

Speaking of Hitler: When I think of one of sport’s biggest hypocrisies, he is at the center of the controversy. Most people know the story of the 1936 Olympics and American track star Jesse Owens (if you want to learn about these games from a non-track perspective, I highly recommend Boys in the Boat). Hitler planned to use these games to showcase his nation’s power and the strength of what he thought of as the “Aryan race.”

What he was not prepared for was a Black man from America showing up his track and field athletes. While Hitler’s Germans did win the most medals overall and the most gold medals, Owens walked away with four golds, more than any U.S. athlete at the time. While Owens’ dominance was the main story, the side story was his treatment by Hitler. After the first day of competition and after Hitler shook hands and congratulated the German winners, he left the stadium. The head of the Olympic Games told him that he either had to shake the hands of all the winners or none of them. He chose none of them.

Americans were furious and the story began to circulate that Owens, now a true American hero, was snubbed by the German leader. Yet when Owens was asked about the mistreatment, his answer was telling: “I wasn’t invited to shake hands with Hitler. But I wasn’t invited to the White House to shake hands with the President either.” FDR, who had spent much of his life in the South, in true hypocrisy did not invite Owens to the White House or acknowledge his accomplishments as he did with the white athletes. Americans who were outraged at Hitler did not seem to care about FDR’s own snub.

It is sad that politics and hypocrisy take over what many Americans like me use to get away from the world for a short time each week. Though it has not always been the case, sports today are the one place where merit rises to the top. Black or White, rich or poor, the best players in the games play together. It should be the place with the least amount of divisive language. I applaud the NFL for condemning the words of Jon Gruden. But if the League is serious about ending the hypocrisy and truly wanting to unite the nation and end this type of language, the NFL needs to find a new half-time show.


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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Republican Heroes

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It is about time we recognized the true heroes of the Republican Party.  They are not the dopey louts who rampaged through our nation’s capital and the moral cowards who still cover for them.

They are not the ranting demagogues exploiting the emotions of the resentful.  They were the unsung people not seeking attention, but doing their jobs: from poll workers to police officers.  They were Republican state legislators and governors who did not bend to pressure to overturn the elections in their state.  They were Republican judges who did not allow mere allegations unsupported by credible evidence to deny votes that happened.  They were a Vice President who stayed loyal to the Constitution and the rule of law above any man.  They were Republican congressional representatives and senators who did not fear to try and hold their own president accountable and dared to stand on their conscience instead of following the majority in their party.  They did not win.  But they showed more bravery than the majority in their party who did.

It is Republicans like those who could save the soul of the party from being lost to a band of fascists if they find the nerve to do so.  My father was a lifelong Republican who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.  After the sacrifices that generation made to defeat fascism, I’m glad he was not alive to see his party dishonored by America’s Mussolini.

James Tweed
Ocean City, NJ

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Appreciative parent supports Funk for School Board in Happy Creek District

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I am writing this letter to extend my support and endorsement to Dr. Antoinette Funk for Warren County, VA School Board-Happy Creek District.

As a parent of a former Ressie Jeffries student, I would like to share my experience of having Dr. Funk as assistant principal during my child’s elementary education.

Dr. Funk is a conscientious professional. Her decisions were always based on what was in my child’s best interest. We were not always in agreement; however, she always gave explanations regarding her decision and willingly listened to our concerns (including those of my son). She provided other options as she deemed available and made final decisions based on the needs of my son, providing support at school and at home.

Dr. Funk understands the relation between having a strong bridge between school and home. She was fair and respectful. My child benefited tremendously throughout his school years and into adult life due to his time at Ressie under Dr. Funk’s educational and social guidance. Being a parent of a special needs child herself gave her insight into the daily challenges of students and teachers. I found her to be honorable, thorough, and supportive. I knew my son was being academically challenged.

I say without reservation that Dr. Funk is dedicated and commits herself to serve the educational needs of each individual student. Her expectations and consequences were always made clear.  Her commitment to education is a priority, and she remained a source of support and education well into his middle school years.

I ask you to make an informed decision in your choice in the upcoming election.  If you want an experienced, dedicated individual, committed to making decisions and standing up for what is best for the education of your children, vote for Dr. Antoinette Funk for Warren County, VA School Board-Happy Creek District.

Juanita Shafer
Warren County, Virginia

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We need Angela Robinson on our school board

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Angela Robinson – a person who will fight for your child.

I am writing to share my experience with Angie Robinson as a teacher, advocate and now friend. My daughter had begun to show signs of learning difficulties when she was in elementary school. I had known Angie through the school, but had not had her teach my child. When my daughter made it to fourth grade, she had fallen behind, and I just could not get the services needed for my daughter.

Angie assured me that she would do whatever she could to help my daughter and to address the concerns that I had. Angie was able to do that and even more. She made sure my child got her special services through an IEP, and she continued to follow through with my child throughout her years in Warren County schools. She offered to go to IEP meetings after she left the elementary setting. She even went as far as to continue to tutor my daughter throughout her high school years.

Angie cares about our children. She cares about their journey and their future. She dedicated her time to fight for my daughter. This is why we need her on our school board – to fight for the students who need to be fought for. She understands how the system works and how important it is to make our students successful. I am proud to say that my daughter graduated from Skyline High School, and we couldn’t have done it without the support of Angie Robinson. She cares about our students, our families and our schools. We need Angela Robinson on our school board.

Stacey Sprague
Front Royal, Virginia

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Response to ‘Open Letter to Warren County voters…’

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The writers assert the reason for the relatively high percentage of private and home-schooled children in the community are generally failing standards in state and this county’s public school systems. This assertion ignores the impact of a half century of location of private, Catholic educational institutions into this community, prominent among those Christendom College, Chelsea Academy and Seton Home School. Those institutions, among others like Human Life International, have been followed into this community by an expanding Catholic population of a generally conservative outlook, an outlook that might blur the Constitutionally mandated separation of church and state for some.

Many families within that community have their own preference for a religiously based education for their children, regardless of the quality of the public school system here. Add the even longer-standing private school option of Air Force Junior ROTC and Methodist-sponsored Randolph-Macon Academy, now at the middle and high school levels, and you have an even greater private school alternative to public education in this community that predates current debates over educational and social policies and standards.

Whether one receives a better quality education publicly, privately, or in the home is matter of opinion and debate that will reflect the perspectives – religious, social and political – of the involved parties, as Mr. Waller’s and Lundberg’s letter illustrates. But leaving relevant facts out of the debate to promote one’s opinion as factual analysis is too often a symptom of advocacy, as opposed to objective exploration of the topic under scrutiny.

Roger Bianchini
Royal Examiner Editorial Board member

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