Letters To The Editor

Ask the important questions, even the difficult ones

Dear Editor,
    Recently an individual, as reported in the local newspapers, made assumptions about a meeting, at which he was not in attendance, of the Clinton County Health Department and focused on only one question raised there, (note: it was actually a question, not, a "statement" as was mistakenly and repeatedly claimed.)
    There were quite a number of questions raised at that meeting, among other things, about the need for, and potential location for, a new County Health Department building.
    Questions raised by members of the Health Department, and the public, included: availability to all citizens, and the appropriate location for county offices: in the county seat or elsewhere, etc.One local citizen expressed concern that one proposed site, owned by a hospital, would be property with deed restrictions that could prevent even discussion of, or referral for, birth control or family planning services.
    Some expressed concern about Health Department services moving to the campus of a nearby hospital, which is controlled by an out-of-state corporation, effectively leaving only one place in the county for residents to get many health services. There were also concerns of a possible conflict of interest with a hospital-contracted medical provider working at Public Health.
    Whatever folks think about the appropriate location for a new Health Department building, we all need to respect the great job all our local, volunteer members of the Board of Health are doing. They serve us with many years of medical training and expertise and protect us in ways most of us don't understand, through their work with patients, by supporting many local businesses, schools and charities such as the Relay For Life. They are often medical “good samaritans,” being the first responders when there is a person choking or who has collapsed with shortness of breath. (This happened yet again this week to one board member with whom I am well acquainted.)
    All of us need to think about, and sometimes ask, important questions, even when they may be difficult; and to consider the feelings of others, especially of someone not like us, how they might feel, and what their experience might be.  And we need to work together as a community to answer these questions.     

    Frank Buckingham, DVM

Has Breese moved past racism?    

    Dear Editor,
    I'm pleased to hear from the mayor that Breese has moved on from its overtly racist history. It has not always been that way. Look for archival photographs of the "Welcome to Breese" signs at the east city limits of Breese from the 1950s and 1960s. I am looking through all my old stuff for one now.
    I graduated from Mater Dei High School in 1963 and traveled by school bus from Carlyle to Breese for four years. 
    I remember a sign at the east edge of Breese (across from the liquor store) that said to the effect "The Chamber of Commerce, the Knights of Columbus, etc., etc., etc., Welcome You to Breese." At the bottom of the sign was the sunset town logo and words in cursive: N_____, don't let the sun set on your head in this town.
    I was at the Carver game and know who threw the shoe. The student body also threw rocks at the Carver bus as they left Mater Dei. Shortly thereafter, there was a letter to the editor in the Breese Journal trying to downplay the racism that was on display at the Carver game.
    The note said to the effect, "some of my best friends are n_____s, but I wouldn't want my daughter to marry one."
    A thorough search of the Journal archives will produce that note.
    Do you know if there is a statute of limitations on overt racism?
    I haven't lived in Clinton County since 1963, but if I did I would favor moving the health department to Breese because of the hospital (which is incredibly well run and scores among the nation's best in quality ­— they were a good customer of mine for many years when I was in the health care industry.)
    Breese also has a much more advanced health care ecosystem, but in the historical context, the claim "public defamation of character to the residents of the city of Breese" may be an overreach. Racism dies slowly and the buffoon in the White House has now given it new life.
    The great news is that additional insight into the issue may be found in the Journal archives.

     "... I wouldn't want my daughter to marry one ..."
    If you look, you will find it.
    A Journal subscriber,
    Jim Danehy

Publisher's note

    Since the first publishing of the comments made by Dr. Deanna DuComb during the Health Department meeting, there has been a lot of talk around the community.  Is Breese, Clinton County, racist?  Breese Mayor Charlie Hilmes’ rebuttal in the form of a defamation claim has garnered further comments about the state of racism in the CC.  Here at the Breese Journal we have received a few comments, notes and Facebook posts supporting both positions.  Here is my take on the situation.
    Does racism exist, in general? Yes. As long as there are definably different races there will be racism.  As humans there will always be a portion that fall to the sin of racism by not even considering someone of a different ethnic background as a brother or sister.
    Do we live in a racist town or county? No!  Does that mean there have not been racist acts perpetrated in the past? No. Does it mean that there are no racists living among us? No. Does that mean we have a large portion of people in our communities who are not white? No.  Does it mean that persons of color have to worry about their safety when coming to Breese at night? Definitely not.
    Probably a good portion of folks who are older than the age of 60 can remember a time when things were not quite as they are today.  Did Breese, or other towns in the county, have sunset laws?  Possibly.  Did people of color fear for their lives back in the '60s or earlier?  Possibly.  Were there people thrown in Clinton County jail for the crime of not being white? Probably. Is that the case today? No!
    Conversely to the above time frame a great many people of Clinton County who were born in the '60s or later know, have had class with, played sports with, worked with, or in some way is related to someone  of color.  They call them friend, mi amigo, buddy, cousin or girlfriend.  The color of their skin makes no more difference to them than the color of their hair, eyes or clothes.
    It is my opinion the comments made in the vein of Dr. DuComb do nothing but bring up past ills of society that no longer have a place in, or are on the fringe of, 2019 society.  This is usually done as a political move when there is no other argument to make to support their stance on a topic.  That is not only a weak argument to make but shows that they themselves may actually still be in that minority of people who do see skin color as a differentiator of people.
    Racism in Clinton County may still have a weak life support system, and I am sure there are some who will think that our assessment is wrong.  My belief is that, as a community, Breese is one of the least racist places you will find.        

    Dave Mahlandt

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