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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Get back to normal | Foundational freedom | Armenian genocide

April 30, 2021 at 3:07 a.m.

Get back to normal

Have your noticed that, wherever you go, whatever you do or whoever you call, they always seem to have the same excuse for their poor service?

Lord knows that everyone has been affected by the covid-19 virus. Some, tragically, more than others. It seems to me, after a year of shutdowns, quarantines and struggling through this mess, that we would have learned how to better deal with it.

Everybody and every business now has an excuse for poor service, poor performance, lack of courtesy and just trying to do what is right.

One remarkable exception has been the restaurant industry. These folks have a goal of taking care of people and, for the most part, they have done it well.

I was willing to accept the hardships that we had encountered, at least early on. I figured that everyone was having a hard time and businesses were having problems even getting people to come in to work. But now it seems that everyone has an excuse for poor service, lack of empathy, failure to return calls and just about everything else that we used to call "common courtesy."

We've been through a lot and, unfortunately, it's far from over. But isn't it time to make a serious effort to get back to normal? Life is good, but sometimes life is hard. Let's get back to doing our best and not making excuses.

GORDON GONDEK

Little Rock

Foundational freedom

Two strong and seemingly unalterable aspects of being human--tribalism and personal gain, regardless of the effect on others--were well represented in Sunday's story on Arkansans who refuse to take the covid-19 vaccine.

The refusal to take the vaccine happens to be first cousin to the 2021 Arkansas legislative session which scorned science and facts as though they are at odds with Christianity as practiced particularly in the reactive South we seem to be wallowing in these days.

This year's legislative session might best be defined as regressive on steroids. To mandate the teaching of creationism in public schools while also stealing revenue from our public schools to help fund private schools (psst: Christian schools) is to fly in the face of the separation of church and state.

I hesitate to mention "our founders," given contemporary misrepresentations of what they likely intended, but here's where the reference seems relevant: King George III, back to Henry VIII, and even before William the Conqueror, Europe's and England's royalties had commingled for centuries with the official church to oppress religious freedom by doling out torture, public hangings and burnings, and quarterings of those deemed ungodly by the power of the church or crown.

Having suffered religious oppression, our founders wanted to make absolutely, unequivocally clear that government does not determine who or what or how or when we worship or choose not to.

Those are foundational freedoms, central to our humanity, which require that government not dictate our beliefs, including the choice to believe in creationism, with its origin in religion, not science, as long as creationism is not forced on our children in public school or by misdirecting public funds into parochial schools whether or not they define themselves as religious.

BOB REYNOLDS

Conway

Armenian genocide

Thank you, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, on behalf of all Armenian American Arkansans, for your coverage of President Biden's declaration of the verity of the Armenian genocide on its 106th anniversary. You reported the news on your first page (The New York Times did so on its 11th), and your editorial of April 29 was heartfelt and educational. It was well-written, in the spirit of your erstwhile brilliant editorialist Paul Greenberg, who, unfortunately, did not live to see this day.

The declaration is important not only to Armenians, but to all 20th century victims of genocide, starting with the Herero in Namibia (1904-1907, by Germany), then on to the European Jews, Roma, Poles, Serbs and others, by Nazi Germany; Bosnian Muslims by Serbia; Cambodians; Guatemalans; Tutsis by Hutus in Rwanda; Darfur; Yazidis in Syria and Iraq, and many others. Genocide is still going on today: Yemenis (Saudi Arabia), Rohingya (Myanmar), Uighurs (Xinjiang, China), and the latest, Tigrayans in Ethiopia, by Eritrean troops.

Many friends I grew up with in Turkey, all liberal intellectuals, know about the genocide, and do not approve of its suppression by their government. In addition to wounded pride in admitting the failures of their predecessors, other factors, such as the advantages of setting up a "foreign" ethnic group as a convenient punching bag, and unwillingness to pay reparations to descendants of survivors, has motivated successive Turkish governments to deny the genocide.

Today, Armenia is a poor, weak country, dominated by Russia, whereas Turkey is a prosperous, strong regional power broker. Let us pray that God will soften the hearts of the Turkish ruling class, and allow them to extend a hand of reconciliation and friendship, as well as financial help, even access to their historic sites, to the Armenian nation.

SARKIS NAZARIAN

Little Rock

Some uplifting news

As I was reading the "In The News" column in your newspaper, it struck me how depressing it is, with murders, hate crimes, robberies, embezzlement, etc., being reported, taking place mainly in different states or other countries. So I was wondering, given today's current "state of the U.S.," why not find some "uplifting" news to report?

There's usually nine snippets of reporting in this column, so given the other states and the rest of the world, surely there is something pleasant or positive you could report to start the day. There's plenty of "in-depth" articles to read about in the heart of the newspaper.

I've heard that generally "negative news" sells, but why not give your readers something to smile about before we delve into the woes of this country and the world? Just a thought.

SUSAN TURTON WEEKS

Sherwood

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