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October   7

Screw The Good Old Days

Nice response this week from one Alvin Smith III, to that other letter in last week's Montclair Times. Here's what he had to say:

In response to her letter dated Sept. 29. Deborah Mitchell asked, “What is happening to the Montclair I grew up in?” It frightens me when I hear someone wanting to return to the good old days because the good old days were not always so good for everyone.

To answer her question:

Your town integrated its school system and then implemented a magnet system that is envied around the state.

Your town started a Civil Rights Commission that in turn created Conversations on Race, a program envied and studied around the state.

Your town has a restaurant that reflects every ethnic group.

Your town has a place of worship for every denomination.

Your town is known throughout the tri-state area as a town that is tolerant and welcomes all people no matter what race, religion, or sexual preference (as long as they can afford the taxes).

Your town is progressive. And I’m damn proud to live here.

I am not gay, but I am saddened that she finds gays “distasteful” and are so intolerant of other lifestyles. My libertarian mind tells me that she has the right to believe whatever she wants; however, she chose to air those beliefs in the public forum.

Thus I invoke M. L. King and quote his letter from the Birmingham Jail, “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but also for the appalling silence of the good people.”

It is in this spirit that I choose to not remain silent in the face of people like her. As she says, I am sure that God will have mercy on us all.

October 7, 2005 in Only in Montclair | Permalink

Comments

Wonderful sentiments. Hear hear! My personal favorite line:

"(as long as they can afford the taxes)."

Posted by: walleroo | Oct 7, 2005 3:35:07 PM

"Your town is known throughout the tri-state area as a town that is tolerant and welcomes all people no matter what race, religion, or sexual preference (as long as they can afford the taxes)."

Try being a conservative Republican in town and you face bigotry and anger...not tolerance.

Posted by: frosty | Oct 7, 2005 3:40:50 PM

I hear ya Frosty...

Ken Kurson (who co-wrote the Rudy Guiliani Book "Leadership"), who ran for local government, had a great piece about this very topic on NPR's This American Life last year.

So very true.

Open to all except those who we disagree with.

But I still love 'em.

Posted by: profchriss | Oct 7, 2005 3:47:21 PM

Oh, quit your whingeing.

Posted by: walleroo | Oct 7, 2005 3:57:06 PM

Cry me a river, Frosty. You are lucky to complain about being discriminated against for your political views in comparison to those who are discriminated against because of their race or sexual orientation. You can walk around Montclair without fear of being the victim of a hate crime and still be a proud conservative Republican. Unfortunately there are people that live in your town that are all too aware that holding hands with their same-sex partner may draw stares, comments, or worse - physical threats.

Posted by: Dana | Oct 7, 2005 4:01:21 PM

oh please! what, has someone spray painted GOP in large letters on your front door?!? has anyone here told you to leave town because they don't like your kind?

forgive me if I shed no tears for the persecution you have experienced as a republican.

Posted by: State Street Pete | Oct 7, 2005 4:03:33 PM

whingeing

is that whining and binging at the same time- or some other marsupial madness?

Posted by: jerseygrrrrl | Oct 7, 2005 4:31:56 PM

whatever happened to the days where you were grateful for having 10 fingers and 10 toes-that you weren't blind-that you weren't in a wheel chair-or dying,,,,look i have known my share of discrimination-

but i also don't go on and on and on about it-things change slowly-through education -through interpersonal relationships-through love and kindness and doing the right thing not because your going to get a thank you or not-

the letter was a good reponse-

however the bitter truth is some people will never get it--and for every one person who has been discriminated against deep inside their own hearts you will also find some other group they discriminate against themselves.

Posted by: cstarling | Oct 7, 2005 4:42:42 PM

I'm not a Republican but a few of the above comments illustrate Frosty's point very well.

Any why does someone assume that just because you're a Republican you automatically hate gays? This is so not true. In fact, I know a number of people who brand themselves as liberal or progressive who are rather homophobic when push comes to shove.

Posted by: Lustmord | Oct 7, 2005 4:48:06 PM

I'm the object of terrible discrimination. Just because I'm a jerk, people shun me. They won't invite me over for dinner, they won't call me on the phone. Can I help it if I like to curse and shout and blame everything that happens to me on everybody else? Oh, frig'em.

Posted by: walleroo | Oct 7, 2005 4:49:03 PM

hahaha....
this thread reminds me of the platitude i heard growing up. it's a platitude, but nonetheless there is some truth to it: "there are good and bad in every group."
thus: there are good republicans and bad republicans, good liberals and bad liberals, good parking meter people and bad parking meter people, etc. etc.
i'm a liberal, my mom is a republican, and we love each other anyway. we even manage to have civil discussions. mostly though....we talk about other things--food, weather, family, friends and why she thinks i have too many pets (she may be right about that) and we never engage in namecalling!

Posted by: fran | Oct 7, 2005 5:23:28 PM

lustmord - umm, i dont see anyone that said a thing about republican hating gays.

Posted by: butchcjg | Oct 7, 2005 6:05:12 PM

fran - tell us about your pets!?

Posted by: butchcjg | Oct 7, 2005 6:06:04 PM

whingeing is the British version of whining.

Posted by: caris | Oct 7, 2005 6:12:05 PM

well, this probably belongs on another thread but: i have a black lab, a cairn terrier and three domestic shorthair tabby cats. if i had a large farm i'd also get some vietnamese hens and roosters because they are so beautiful to look at.

Posted by: fran | Oct 7, 2005 6:18:13 PM

I'm just glad that someone did respond to that letter. To be complaining about a gay lounge and potholes on the same letter is not only homophobic, it trivializes how important it is for gay people like me to be accepted and find venues of socializing without having to leave my own town. I'm still waiting for a gay bar that's open on a Saturday night in Montclair. As for the conservative Republican asking for acceptance, that will only come when your allies give us the acceptance you crave.

Posted by: mikedec | Oct 7, 2005 6:48:16 PM

Surprising, some of the thoughtless comments above, which reflect very narrow thinking about inclusion and personal suffering. Not everything is a big joke. Alvin Smith III's comments are worth cherishing, not using as a springboard for pathetic humor.

Recently, I attended a party where I met a longtime Montclair resident who happens to be Jewish. He described how hard it was to buy a home in Montclair in the Fifties on certain "Christian" streets with expensive homes. He had to hire an attorney as his intermediary to make a purchase on Upper Mountain Ave. When he moved in, his neighbors refused to speak to him.

Change. It happens everywhere. Glad it has happened here.

Posted by: Friend of Montclair | Oct 7, 2005 8:55:08 PM

"...why she thinks i have too many pets."

Fran: There's no such thing as too many pets! :-)

Posted by: Lustmord | Oct 7, 2005 10:27:41 PM

fran i am having a bad time with the parking meter people example-but for the sake of my own sanity (because resentment and hate have a way of sucking away the life of the people who have them) i will attempt to work on that one :)

Posted by: cstarling | Oct 8, 2005 12:56:57 AM

My deepest and most heartfelt apologies for treading with humor (however pathetic--but hey, that's me) on the American ritual of victimhood. Next time I promise you I shall give the topic the appropriate reverence.

Posted by: walleroo | Oct 8, 2005 10:01:52 AM

My deepest and most heartfelt apologies for treading with sarcasm on the American ritual of ... etc etc.

Posted by: walleroo | Oct 8, 2005 10:02:54 AM

"I'm still waiting for a gay bar"

Okay, all kidding aside. What exactly is a gay bar? Isn't that a bar gays frequent? So what would happen if gay people just started going to any bar. Wouldn't said bar then be a gay bar?

I'm being straight here (pardon the pun).

Posted by: walleroo | Oct 8, 2005 10:06:15 AM

Great news! The Republicans, a historically persecuted minority systematically excluded from this country's economic order, have finally grown tired of their plight and banded together to secure a better future for their children.

A victory for truth and right. I propose we sing "Kumbaya"

Posted by: Marshall | Oct 8, 2005 11:54:51 AM

Most consider "gay bars" to be gay-owned and gay-frequented.

I suppose that gay people could "take over" another local bar...but none are quite stylish enough :)

Posted by: butchcjg | Oct 8, 2005 11:58:42 AM

Walleroo

Methinks a 'gay bar' is an establishment where most if not all the clientele are...gay.

I agree it seems strange & weird to target a destination based on sexual identity, but until there is acceptance, nay- NONCHALANCE, about people's sexual preference, I think we will see places where people of a certain stripe congregate because they feel comfortable.

When I say strange & weird, it is a bit discriminatory ... reminds me of the days when we id'd places for 'white's only' ....

Posted by: Pam | Oct 8, 2005 12:00:03 PM

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