Letters to the Editor: Jan. 15

We, the immunocompromised, are all around you. We are in the supermarket shopping with you, stocking the shelves and working the check-out counters. We are in your workplaces and in your children’s classrooms. We are your neighbors. If I pretend I’m someone else, I can appreciate when political or medical officials remind us that this is not March of 2020, that people who are fully vaccinated and boosted can go about their lives, while being extra cautious when they visit elderly relatives. But when I remember who I am, this image becomes false. Immunocompromised people are not all tucked away in back rooms. For us, and the ten million immunocompromised people like me, and the many millions more who live with us and dare not bring COVID-19 home, this is worse than March of 2020. We are vaccinated, although the protection vaccines give us ranges from poor to negligible. The Omicron variant is more contagious and many people are lax about getting vaccinated and wearing masks. I have a blood cancer that attacks the cells that produce my immune system. My seven-year-old nephew has been immunocompromised since birth. My nephew lives in a family with four school-age children and two working adults. They cannot hide in a back room until the pandemic fades away. Be good neighbors to us. Help us through this emergency, just as we help you with your needs. Remember that we all must breathe the same air.

- Marilyn Fischer, Dayton

Very simply put, people vote with their money and with their attendance. Whether it is choosing which restaurant, movie or school to go to. EdChoice in Ohio has been allowing just that for many years, allowing families to vote with their money and their students’ attendance which school fits them the best. Taking away EdChoice would be like telling the family which restaurant to go to, or which movie. Let the choice remain with the family. Let the choice remain EdChoice.

- Stan R. Ellingson, Dayton

Ray Marcano’s interview with the white racist dubbed “Nathan” on Jan. 9 offers us a good picture of what prejudice looks like up close. But one paragraph in his quite pessimistic article stands out. This was it:

“And like a significant percentage of white America, he’s [”Nathan”] not happy with the country’s direction and what that means for white people.”

In the first place, that’s wrong. A significant percentage of all Americans of every color, religion, gender or whatever are not happy with the country’s direction. Make no mistake, almost no one knows or agrees just what that direction is, politically, culturally or morally.

In the second place, the Nathans of the world have been a vanishing race for decades. That doesn’t make his misguided beliefs any less virulent, but they should be placed properly in the historical context of why our society has made progress in racial and religious tolerance so that, for example, we elect Black and Catholic presidents.

Nathan may be beyond help as were the Nathans of past generations, but there has been slow but steady progress of what it means to be an American first, and then whatever secondary category you choose or were born into. Education is an empty word unless we understand what has worked in the past and what has not worked. We also need to understand the psychology of prejudice and how to overcome its poison in order to let the ideals of this country’s founding work for all.

Part of our study must be to understand the impatience that Ray Marcano displays with the slow progress. I think it is fair to say that a significant percentage of all Americans share that impatience and frustration with the likes of the Nathans who stand in the way of the brotherhood of mankind at every opportunity.

Government can only go so far, as with the civil rights legislation, to tackle the ignorance of intolerance. The rest is up to us. We must be patient lest impatience itself dissolve into intolerance.

- William H. Wild, Kettering

Mr. Marcano: That was a brave column on Jan. 9, but what you framed as a “conversation” featured a one sided rant based on emotion and bigotry rather than facts. It brought to mind a clipping my father saved that said: “The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of an eye — the more light you shine upon it, the tighter it closes.”

You could have explained to Nathan that capitalizing “Black” is similar to referring to Native Americans, to distinguish their unique culture and place in our history.

He glorifies the confederacy, but you could have pointed out slavery tested our democracy and constitution, and that democracy and the constitution held in 1865, something we cannot be sure about today. There were two sides in the Civil War, and one side lost. In our modern age many agree it’s time to recognize Confederate history in historical context, but not to glorify states who fought to enslave human beings.

During your “talk,” you could have countered immigrants from Europe settled the northeast. As our nation pushed westward, it committed acts of genocide that wiped out the original settlers — the Native Americans. You could have countered there is no “white heritage” in this country. Nathan should take a 23andMe DNA test, which will verify he is descended from many different European countries and cultures. We are all descended from immigrants, and have no right or claim to assert our skin color grants us exclusive privilege over our fellow citizens.

He writes off “Blacks” as lazy and disrespectful, did you ask how many Black people he knows?

If he were in an accident and the only staff at a hospital who could save his life were “Blacks,” would he crawl off the stretcher in search of some whites to treat him? Did you remind him U.S. soldiers of all races and cultures fought and died to protect his right to rant, unchallenged. Unlike those soldiers he is too afraid to actually walk in someone else’s shoes to enrich his own life experience.

I guess he condemns biracial families, too. Thirty years ago, we received a call for a mixed-race child, 30 days old, in need of parents and a home. She was healthy, and that was all we needed to hear. She is our beautiful daughter. She is not gross — she is a hardworking parent and a credit to her community. It is easy to hate and condemn, it’s hard to expose yourself to new people from different races and backgrounds. For those who are not bigoted, every time we go out into our communities and interact with others, our diversity enriches us all.

I am unsure what you plan to do next fostering community dialogue, but too many of us see and hear this raw hatred and the press and media do little to challenge their lies and bigotry. If your position is, “it won’t do any good,” I am sorry for you. Cynicism in politics, government and our democracy is just as damaging as Nathan’s unfiltered hatred.

- Sharon Roggenkamp, Middletown