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Letter: Rhinier’s letter presents misguided characterization

Having lived and worked in several former Soviet and current Muslim countries, we find Mr. Wes Rhinier’s letter to the editor published June 14 (“No right protects against being offended”), likening supporters of relocating “Fame” to some of the worst rogue regimes on the planet, a gross and misguided characterization. He asked for someone to tell him the “functional difference.” Here it is.

The enemy list he cites — Nazis, Communists, Taliban, ISIS, Khmer Rouge — indeed destroyed statues of either government or religious icons they opposed. But they did it, not just because “they didn’t like” them, but because they sought outright regime change. They sought to take over a nation and obliterate its past! It is laughable to suggest that Democrats (have you forgotten that Salisbury’s mayor is Republican?) must be up to something as heinous, and that we must avoid “ratifying” their “cultural cleansing” lest “all the white folks (would be asked) to leave town.”

We’ve heard no one talk about destroying “Fame,” erasing the past, or fomenting a government coup. They are simply talking about relocating the statue to a less prominent location where it can provide context to understand and appreciate our collective history, a history of white supremacy that this statue affirms. This should satisfy Mr. Rhinier’s desire that “history in all its twists and turns must be preserved, not sanitized.” 

Furthermore, the loaded phraseology of “cultural assassins,” “a new American Taliban,” “racist, collectivist hysteria,” and “spiteful, collectivist Taliban terrorists with sledge hammers” is hateful hyperbole that has no place in a civil discussion of an admittedly controversial issue. We would add that the reference to “a Marxist former mayor” is both mean-spirited and insulting to a woman with whom one may disagree politically but who has been a dedicated public servant for most of her life, including having honorably served this country for nearly two decades in the U.S. Army.

— Will and Mary James
Salisbury

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