Letters, April 20, 2017
I was appalled by the Playhouse Children’s Theatre Company’s shockingly racist depiction of native people on the front page of this week’s Republican Journal. It’s shameful that "The Everyday Adventures of Harriet Handleman (Super Genius)" was put on with those costumes, and it’s shameful that nobody at The Republican Journal saw the image and thought that maybe it might be the slightest bit racist. The only way it could have been worse is with blackface.
What we expose our children to now affects how they think about racism when they grow up. This starts by not having kids dress up as racist caricatures. I would have expected such imagery from the darkest days of Jim Crow, not in 2017 Belfast, Maine, but here we are.
Day of Prayer
As the pastor of Little River Church here in Belfast, in partnership with several area churches, it is our pleasure to host the 66th annual National Day of Prayer for Belfast and the Bay Area. As early as 1775, the call for a national day of prayer was issued by our Continental Congress. A joint resolution of Congress, signed by President Truman in 1952, established the practice in public law, and in an amendment under President Reagan the 100th Congress stated, “The President shall issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups and as individuals.”
The theme for this year is "For Your Great Name’s Sake," inspired by Daniel 9:19 “O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God ....” Our gathering will include time to focus prayer on confession, repentance, spiritual and moral awakening, revival; our president, federal government and elected officials; our state, county and local government; our families, schools, cultural and social services, and media; the national/global stage, Israel, military, wounded, and military families.
Reading through any paper or watching any evening newscast highlights the current need for prayer, with dangers at home and abroad, challenges to the basic liberties of many, suspicion, disunity, tension and despair; and that is only with temporal concerns in view. When we add to that the far greater weight of our eternal concerns, the need for prayer cannot be overstated.
We invite and encourage all with similar concerns for our nation who are convinced of the power of prayer to join us on May 4 from 6 to 7 p.m. at Little River Church, 259 Northport Ave., Belfast.
Grace and Peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,
Jonathan Susee, Pastor
Little River Church
The "Middle East" is a catastrophic clustermuck created by key NATO members England, France and the United States following the dismantling of the fading Ottoman Empire during and after World War I. Remember Peter O'Toole in "Lawrence of Arabia"?
Russia had no involvement in that and has no business being there now. Rather, NATO must take full and forceful responsibility for correcting its past errors. Or, abandon it altogether.
That must begin with the dismantlement of that century-old imposition of national borders that has continually fomented sectarian hostilities and often murderous political repression across the region by autocratic regimes. Iraq, Syria and Turkey all come to mind.
In particular, the Shi'a Alewite-dominated strip of western Syria must be separated from the Sunni Arab and Kurd-dominated northern and eastern Syria that Bashar al-Assad and Russia are assaulting. From that can come broader regional political shifts for Sunni Arab and Kurd regions that are long overdue.
I continue to believe that the Kurds and moderate Sunni Arab tribes can forge a politically and economically stable republic that benefits the entire "Middle East" region. To do so requires the overt cooperation of all the nations now bordering Syria and Iraq because many may be called upon to cede some territory and/or agree to new borders for that Sunni republic, or perhaps even a broader ethnicity republic that includes Iraq's Shi'a as well. A plan exists.
Turkey in particular has a huge Kurd population which is generally repressed by its Turkmen majority. Syria and Iraq would also need to cede territory, and also Iran cede slivers of its own Kurd or Arab rich lands. Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait may also need to cede small pieces of their territory to ensure the political and economic stability of such a mixed ethnicity Sunni republic or polyethnic Iraq.
With such sacrifices should come economic and security treaties between what should become peaceful neighbors of the new republic(s). I would hope the end result would be a single unified republic that stretches from Syrian and Turkey shores along the Mediterranean Sea all the way to a harbor on the Persian Gulf. With that would come beneficial international commerce opportunities for the entire region.
The George W. Bush administration thought they could clumsily forge a democratic polyethnic-polysectarian Iraq with little effort. The Barack Obama administration largely abandoned that while Donald Trump has — so far — ignored such opportunities. See what happened?
Now is the time for President Donald J. Trump to either embrace a comprehensive repair to that 20th-century clustermuck, or else abandon the region to predatory Russia and its proxy actors and also likely China as well.
Only one choice is rational and safe for Western democracies and the peoples of the "Middle East." What will America choose?
Randall B. Hofland
Maine State Prison