Regarding “Group plans to raise a Confederate battle flag in each of NC’s counties” (Feb. 5): American History class taught us about the honor and sacrifices that the Confederate battle flag “stars and bars” represent and that it is still waved proudly as a symbol of the American South. This same flag also represents the Missouri Compromise, the Second Missouri Compromise, the Compromise of 1850 and the Kansas-Nebraska Act all enacted to appease the South in their quest to expand slave territory.
The flag represents the annexation of Texas and the American war with Mexico, both giving the Southern states opportunities to expand slave territory. The flag represents the American Filibusters in the 1850s that tried to overthrow the Cuba government and interfered in other Latin American countries with the goal of expanding slavery, all with the blessing of the Southern states.
Most importantly, the flag represents over 600,000 lives lost during the Civil War, thousands of lynchings and the denial of basic civil rights to blacks during the Jim Crow Era. Historians have written that slavery was on the decline in the 1850s, but driving down I-40 and seeing a confederate battle flag larger than any American flag in the state flying so proudly lets me know that we do not know our American Southern history. It is time to stop romanticizing the Confederate battle flag and say what it really represents.
Stop military exercises
The U.N.-sanctioned Olympic Truce between North and South Korea offers an opportunity for our government to begin a dialog with N. Korea about its nuclear weapons program as reported in “N. Korea to send nominal head of state to S. Korea” (Feb. 5).
Foreign ministers of countries that participated in the Korean War recently met in Vancouver and proposed that the U.S. postpone its biannual military exercises in exchange for North Korea freezing its ballistic missile testing exercises. Although rejected by Sec. of State Tillerson the foreign ministers’ proposal seems like a reasonable way to end the reckless nuclear war talk between North Korea and President Trump.
U.S military strength can hardly be news to North Korea. Those exercises include simulated nuclear bombing runs which understandably make the North Koreans fearful and more determined to increase their nuclear capabilities as a deterrent to attack. A moratorium on U.S.-South Korean military exercises in exchange for a North Korean moratorium on nuclear and missile testing seems like a great way to diminish tensions and begin to negotiate a long term peace.
It is paradoxical that that the dictionary definition of fraternity is “a group of people associated or formally organized for a common purpose, interest, or pleasure.” Yet none of these definitions makes reference to dangerous initiation practices. In “How to Make Fraternities Safer” (Feb. 4), David Vitek, a recent UNC-Chapel Hill graduate, states, “Fraternities are incapable of reforming themselves. If they are to be made safer, Congress and universities will have to act together.”
This is true because the tradition has gone on for so long, that abrupt change from within by its members is probably neither desired nor feasible at this point. The members of the fraternity themselves must get some gratification out of the process of initiation, like watching a fight on television. Fraternities should be opportunities for young men to lead and do good in their communities, to become civic minded.
But all is not lost, and a good solution has been mentioned. Just to pick one major one of importance, “Make information public about each fraternity’s disciplinary history, including hazing, alcohol abuse and sexual assault.”
Fix road lights
Coming home from abroad and from many other states, it is always surprising that our metropolitan Triangle cities are not connected by highways that have been built to international standards of safety and visibility. Night-time driving, especially on wet nights, has become a nightmare as the road markings become almost invisible.
The busier sections of I-40 should claim infrastructure investment funds for improved overhead lighting and durable pavement lane reflectors.
Willem van Eck