Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 06-25-2020

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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8 OPINION JUNE 25-JULY 1, 2020 | VALLEY BREEZE | NORTH SMITHFIELD BLACKSTONE WOONSOCKET EDITION A Boston College history professor argues that the South actually won the Civil War (Boston College Magazine, summer 2020). Since she was from my alma mater (Law '74), I was interested in her analysis. Professor Heather Cox Richardson expounded upon her research for her book, "To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party." She noted that the late Barry Goldwater in one of his books ("The Conscience of a Conservative") warned about widespread voting that would lead to redis- tribution of wealth and he called for a few elite leaders to direct society. His argu- ments echoed those made a century earlier when a South Carolina senator in 1858 penned a speech similar in an argument which led to the creation of the Confederate States of America whose maxim was that not all men are created equal since some men (white) were better than others and they should run the nation. I pondered whether the same argument exists today. Has a small group of oli- garchs – super wealthy and powerful men – convinced ordinary folk that they should run society? Such a theory excludes women, black Americans and all folks of color from power. As you experience life and read legitimate studies, do you think that there are a signifi- cant number of voters who subscribe to the notion that the rich and powerful should lead the country? I think that there are far too many who do look down on others and consider "some people" to be less than they are. The Declaration of Independence maxim that all are created equal is under- mined by policies and soci- etal expectations that under- cut such equality. President Donald Trump epitomizes the superiority complex as he extols his "biggest and best actions" of any president (save Lincoln whom he con- cedes did "as much for blacks as he has") and personally attacks anyone who is not in lockstep with him. Any coun- terargument to his point of view, even if based on unsci- entific grounds, is excoriated with invective. Meanwhile, regular folks are thwarted left and right in any effort to exert any power, including the right to vote. In the recent primary election in Georgia primarily black districts were plagued with voter machine break- down resulting in hours of long lines while the rural white counties experienced relatively fewer problems. Georgia is a pivotal state in the upcoming elections. Absentee ballots in minority districts never got delivered. Georgia has been plagued by years with uneven access for voting. Sometimes people will question whether there is discrimination. There are thousands of studies which document disparate treat- ment for blacks in virtually every area where the factual predicate was the same as a white person. Back in the '70's I wrote an Amicus brief for the Catholic Diocese of Providence which opposed the then state's death penalty. During the prior 50 years I found that black criminals were five times more likely to get the death penalty vs. white perpetrators who com- mitted the same crime using a common crime grid of similarities/dissimilarities. The R.I. Supreme Court struck down the death penal- ty statute as unconstitutional because of disparate treat- ment. Anyone who is truly sin- cere about facts that have withstood research scrutiny should access these peer reviewed studies in law, health and economic out- comes. It's an obligation to be educated. Violet is an attorney and former state attorney general. Who won the civil war of ideas? The danger of a single story is how it flattens people, places and cultures into a diminished and incomplete version of who and what they are. It turns them into caricatures. I have agreed wholeheart- edly with this idea since I heard Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie's Ted Talk about it, but the time I just spent in the cardiac ICU at Mt. Sinai Hospital brought her wis- dom into much clearer and personal focus for me. In recent months, the single story of New York City has seemed hope- lessly bleak. It was the epicenter of the COVID crisis with sky-high nurs- ing home deaths and those who were able fleeing for greener and less infected pastures. Then, night after night, in the wake of George Floyd's murder, we saw a constant stream of stores being looted and city streets burning before our eyes. TV networks and online media made sure to provide a steady diet of extremes and flattened narratives, deliberately ignoring the complexities, contradictions and yes, even nuance, baked into the very raw and often painful interactions we were seeing. They were selling us a single story of rage, hopelessness and division. But the story of New York City that I just saw with my eyes and felt in my heart was different. For starters, the surgeon we sought out to operate on my husband was there, a kind and compassion- ate man born and raised in middle America who is still providing unparal- leled patient care well into his 70s. Teams of people representing every color, creed, and continent, working together to pro- vide the best care they could for strangers, rich and poor, black and white, male and female, young and old. I was witnessing human- ity. My morn- ing and evening walks to and from the hospital were graced with friendly greetings from the guys hosing down the sidewalks, the doormen standing outside the build- ings, and the construction workers and painters sit- ting on the stoop to take a break. The Middle Eastern man who sold coffee, pas- tries and bananas out of a small food truck near the hospital exuded warmth as he did his best to convince me to buy a danish with my coffee. I told him I'd take three bananas instead. The cardiac ICU nurse, Karla, from the Philippines; the physi- cal therapist from India; the nurses from Nigeria, Mexico and the Bronx; the nursing assistants, the secu- rity team, the food service workers – most didn't look like me, all treated me with kindness and helped me when I needed it. And we laughed together. Cable news, major television networks and papers of record want us to believe that everybody is angry, that our differing immutable traits mean we can't get along, that we are hopelessly fractured. We are not. Yes, we have big problems to solve and bold actions to take if we are to bend that long arc of the moral universe toward jus- tice. It won't bend without work from all of us. But we are more together than we think. Don't believe me? I've got a hos- pital in New York to show you. Sanzi is a former educator and school committee member who writes about educa- tion at Project Forever Free, Good School Hunting and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. More together than we think Poli-Ticks ARLENE VIOLET SANZI Volume XXI, Number 44 June 25, 2020 @ Breeze THE VALLEY ABOUT US The Valley Breeze Newspapers are a locally operated group of free weekly newspapers serving the people of Cumberland, Lincoln, North Smithfield, Woonsocket, Smithfield, Scituate, Foster, Glocester, North Providence, Pawtucket, R.I., and Blackstone, Mass. Each Thursday, 58,500+ copies are distributed to retailers, banks, offices, and restaurants and other busy spots. Circulation is audited by the Circulation Verification Council of St. Louis, Mo. and has earned its "Gold Standard Award." OUR MISSION It is the Mission of The Valley Breeze to facilitate a positive sense of community among the res- idents of Northern Rhode Island by providing a forum for the free exchange of ideas, and to provide information of local events and neighbors. It is our further Mission to provide the highest quality advertising at the lowest possible cost to retailers, professionals, tradespersons, and other service providers in order to enhance the economic well-being of our community. James Quinn, Deputy Publisher Jack Birolini, Director of Sales Ethan Shorey, Managing Editor Barbara Phinney, Controller

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