The Opinion Shop

Read bonus Letters to the Editor that didn't run in print

These letters were not published in the print edition but deserve a look.

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I am deeply grieved by the murders of Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, her husband, Deah Shaddy Barakat, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha. May their memories be a blessing to their loved ones.

I am grieved by these losses, just as I am grieved by the loss of every victim of violent crime, even the ones who are not seen as gems of their communities. Every crime is a hate crime, and every life matters.

However, continuing to characterize each attack on a Muslim or an African-American or a gay person or a Jew or a person with a stutter or a person who can be labeled in any way that suggests that he or she might not have a claim to the simple label person feeds the monster that plagues us.

Our differences can obscure our appreciation of others as human, which means we need to learn to see differences as attributes rather than threats. To develop this vision takes education and discipline: Learn more about differences, and we’ll likely find that they are an adornment, not a weapon. And if that’s not what we find, go back and learn more.

Heidi E.H. Aycock

Chapel Hill

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The murders in Chapel Hill have reintroduced inaccurate and illogical remarks about atheism.

First, agnosticism and atheism are not points on a scale; they are independent: knowledge vs. belief. Agnosticism refers to what is knowable, and any honest person must be agnostic because the existence of God cannot be known, only believed as an article of faith. Atheism refers to what is believed, and atheists do not believe in the existence of God. Second, there has never been an atheist-fueled violent movement.

The fact that communist regimes embraced atheism does not mean that their behavior was motivated by it. Throughout history, theism of every kind has been the spur for violence on every scale from the interpersonal to the international. The same cannot be said for atheism.

Finally, the behavior of Craig Hicks, as shown by his interactions with his neighbors as well as his obsession with guns, is far more indicative of mental illness than ideology.

While there has been much propaganda claiming that secularists, i.e. atheists, have no basis for morality, actual research indicates that atheists are more ethical than theists. If it takes a book like the Bible, or the threat of damnation, to make us believe that murder, theft, lies, etc., are wrong, we have no moral compass. We have only fear.

Martin Eagle

Durham

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As a native-born North Carolinian shocked and saddened by the tragedy in Chapel Hill, I want to affirm that the Muslim community belongs in our community.

While most Muslims are just as American as I, and others have sacrificed and made the choice to come to North Carolina from other parts of the world and shouldn’t need to be told that they are “welcomed,” recent events necessitate this affirmation.

During the five years I lived in Morocco, I learned the beauty of Islam’s teaching of hospitality; enjoyed respectful discussions about religion, gender and politics; and was welcomed as a Christian American woman with open arms. I met my husband there and was immediately welcomed into his family. I was never targeted, and even when U.S. foreign policy was unpopular, the Moroccan people I interacted with were able to differentiate between American policy and myself as a human being – the adage of “great people, terrible government.” Morocco will forever be my second home.

It is tragic that the same hospitality, nuanced distinction between politics and humanity, and sense of connection are not extended to the Muslim population in the United States.

Katy Rosenbaum

Cary

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Regarding the Feb. 11 news brief “ Anchor Brian Williams suspended by NBC for 6 months”: I’ve been watching all the criticism of Brian Williams and his inaccurate reporting. For whatever his reason for embellishment and falsification, it is only a symptom of a much larger problem.

It’s not a surprise that this happened to him or anyone in the media. The networks’ drive for ratings, sensationalism and beating the other guy to the punch without vetting sources are all too common today. So NBC makes an example of him. The management in every network and media should be looking in the mirror to make real change in the culture it has created.

Bonnie Bleiweiss

Wake Forest

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We received exciting energy news this week in the Tar Heel State. Over the next several years, Duke Energy Renewables, a division of Duke Energy, plans to invest $225 million in building and operating solar projects for commercial customers. This follows the purchase of a major stake in REC Solar, a California-based solar company.

Marc Manly, who runs Duke Energy’s unregulated operations – that is, where market competition and customer choice is allowed – says REC Solar has proven its ability to deliver top-of-the-line solar projects and installations for commercial customers. In partnering with Duke Energy Renewables, REC Solar will offer simplified customer financing, including leases and the ability to purchase power from companies other than our utility. These arrangements also provide customers with immediate savings.

As a former state senator, I’m glad to see Duke Energy recognize the need for, and importance of, offering competitive solar leasing and long-term purchase agreements for energy customers. However, I’m disappointed that current law in North Carolina will not allow this financing option to be offered to Duke’s customers in our state, while our neighbors in South Carolina and other states will benefit and save money.

Having endorsed this business model with a $225 million investment, I hope Duke Energy will support efforts to make it legal in its home state and service territory and allow its current customers access to the same freedom of choice. This partnership serves as major validation of a third-party energy sales model and solar business opportunity by Duke.

While Duke Energy Renewables is expanding its third-party energy sales business in order to help companies save on their energy bills in other states, North Carolina state law prevents customers in Duke’s own North Carolina service territory from having those same energy options. Our current state law only allows a customer to buy power from their monopoly utility.

North Carolina’s leaders should want to catch up with our neighbors and competitors across the United States and allow home and business owners to purchase power from their utility or a third-party energy company based on what they view as the best option or deal.

Financing options will make energy investments, like solar and other renewable energy technologies, more affordable and efficient for consumers all across our state. It’s time to allow third-party energy sales in North Carolina so energy customers have access to the same competitive energy resources enjoyed by Duke Energy’s customers in other states across the nation.

Thom Goolsby

Wilmington

The writer is a former state senator. The length limit was waived.

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On Feb. 14, the NAACP led a Moral March for Love and Justice to the North Carolina Capitol. On Feb. 15, The News & Observer printed an article on “Bald eagle population soars.” That article covered half of the front page.

The news article “ NAACP-led march returns to Capitol” appeared on the lower part of section C with some comments on C4. The article stated: “Raleigh police no longer give crowd-size estimates for such events.” However, the article also stated that an “estimated several thousand people stood shoulder to shoulder.”

Those thousands of people joined in the march to express their opposition to the actions taken by the N.C. legislature that have restricted the voting rights of many citizens, have denied Medicaid coverage and unemployment benefits to those in need of such assistance and put North Carolina near the bottom on teacher pay and educational expenditures.

To quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” The people of North Carolina attempted to have their voices heard and their concerns expressed by marching to the N.C. Capitol. Yet their state capital local newspaper gave their story only short coverage in section C. Why?

Marcella Burk Groon

Chapel Hill

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Regarding the Feb. 19 news article “ 3 university centers could be eliminated”: In a pathetic move , a committee of the UNC Board of Governors acted to retaliate against the UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity to avenge the hurt feelings of Gov. Pat McCrory and the Republican-led legislature by recommending the center be closed.

While stating they were not opposed to work on poverty, the board members apparently did not like having someone connect the dots between the policies and laws of the governor and the legislature and the resulting damage to our most vulnerable citizens.

As a proud UNC-CH alumna, I am sickened by this overt political payback. It is a sad day when the Board of Governors uses the university system as a tool to exact revenge against those speaking out for the poor and powerless. Our university system deserves better.

The entire board should be removed. The members of the Board of Governors are not worthy of the office they hold. They have disgraced our state and the pride of our state, the University of North Carolina.

Kelli Hunnicutt

Chapel Hill

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Well, it appears the “thought police” are alive and well and running the current UNC Board of Governors. They cannot abide any viewpoint different from their own so they have decided to eliminate three university centers. One of these is the UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity (even though it receives no state funding).

What is it that so frightens our latest state political leadership that they and their close allies on the Board of Governors cannot let opposing viewpoints be heard? These are the folks who continually tout the concept of marketplace forces being inherently self-correcting. Apparently in their mind,s that applies only to economic marketplaces and not to the “marketplace of ideas.”

Are they all so paternalistic and elitist that they truly believe North Carolina residents don’t have the intellect to consider different ideas and sort through those that appear to have validity in their experience? Isn’t that one of the great assets of an education: to be exposed to other points of view and weigh these ideas for their merits?

When the “thought police” come out this forcefully, we are heading down a slippery slope where those currently in power believe that their “freedom of speech” is far more important and worthy than anyone else’s “freedom of speech.”

Colleen Lee

Raleigh

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Regarding the Feb. 22 Sunday Focus article “ Giuliani clarifies Obama comments”: I was dismayed to see the prominent position given, and the thoughtless reiteration of, Rudy Giuliani’s absurd and unpatriotic comments about President Obama.

Under the guise of reporting the recent controversy over Giuliani’s comments, the article’s first seven paragraphs were devoted to a summary of the former New York City mayor’s inflammatory comments. Once again, thanks to The N&O, the currently irrelevant Giuliani was given a soapbox to push himself into the spotlight, at the expense of our country’s president.

It wasn’t until the eighth paragraph that one found a whisper of the widespread criticism (even from Republicans) that Giuliani has been receiving for his unwarranted remarks. And, even then, there is no mention of President Obama’s response.

As a former newspaper writer, I know that you know that many of readers will never make it to the eighth paragraph. So I can only assume that you chose to print this particular article because you welcomed the chance to highlight Giuliani’s comments.

Andrea Miller

Carrboro

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The Feb. 8 David Brooks column “ Building better secularists” explained what is wrong with those not believing in his supreme being.

The ethic of reciprocity, the Golden Rule, as named by European Christians, is a cornerstone of ethics in the Torah and the Bible, yet Brooks considers it a minor influence in a godless society.

Behavioral reciprocity predates Christianity by thousands of years, and Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism all teach the ethic of reciprocity as a foundation of social order.

“Zi Gong asked, ‘Is there one word that may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life?’ The Master said, ‘Is not reciprocity such a word?’,” Confucius said.

The Golden Rule mentions no supreme being. None of the above religions has a supreme being in its belief structure, yet they represent a large percentage of all humans on this planet, including 40 million to 70 million United States citizens, all leading “normal” productive lives.

“It’s not enough to want to be a decent person. You have to be powerfully motivated to behave well.” Brooks said. Is he speaking of the motivating Christian “hell”?

An earthly inspired motivational Gitmo for secularists might work!

Buddy Owens

Raleigh

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Regarding the Jan. 23 news article “House passes anti-abortion bill, ends controversy”: I find it strange that Republicans are anti-abortion when this stand is clearly at odds with so many of their other policies.

In order to encourage fewer abortions, one would think that Republicans would work harder to make the world a more welcoming place for a child to be born. No political party has done more than Republicans to totally eviscerate the social safety net here in North Carolina that so many of these prospective parents would depend upon.

From virtually noncollectable unemployment compensation to the wholesale denial of Medicaid, essential support structures for prospective parents are gone. The current minimum wage and wage scale for hourly workers here in North Carolina seem designed to discourage child rearing by making it unaffordable.

So Republicans have social policies that obviously make abortions an attractive option while their politics tirelessly strive to make abortions more difficult to obtain.

The Republicans need to reconcile their diametrically opposite positions between the unborn and the newborn if they wish for their political platform to not be at odds with itself.

Mike Reid

Wake Forest

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Regarding the comments of UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham in the Feb. 14 sports article “ UNC foots bill”: He is sadly missing the point in his response to Duke University athletic director Kevin White regarding the $22,000 in damages inflicted on the visitor’s locker room and practice facility turf by members of the UNC football team after their fall football victory in Durham.

Cunningham’s response was of the oft-encountered type best summarized by “well, everyone else does it!” as expressed by his quoted comments “all fans, teams, coaches, students, etc., need to appreciate and respect the rivalry.”

The actions of members of his own football team are directly related to the costly damages incurred, and the athletes (as well as their coaches and the university) should therefore be held fully accountable. Their actions go far beyond anything that can be merely attributed to any “rivalry” issues.

I also feel quite certain that, had any players on Duke’s football or basketball teams been responsible for similar damages to the sports facilities of another university, neither Coach David Cutcliffe nor Coach Mike Krzyzewski would have resolved the problem by simply making their athletes miss a couple of meals and/or writing a personal check for the required repairs.

J.D. Sparks

Raleigh

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Regarding the Jan. 28 news article “ Obama proposes drilling in Atlantic”: Gov. Pat McCrory wants offshore drilling for North Carolina. President Obama approved plans for offshore drilling leases. Greed has raised its ugly head once more.

The beautiful beaches and coastal towns of our state are under attack. It has often been said that men do not learn from history and are doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. Apparently the governor and the president did not learn anything from the great gulf oil spill few short years ago. I suppose we are doomed to have history repeat itself.

When the great Atlantic spill happens, and it will happen, who will pay for the cleanup? The Gulf Coast folks have learned life will never be the same. Further, I am surprised that the “environmental president” has turned his back on us.

Leslie D. Wood

Raleigh

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