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There seems to be a ‘fundamental misunderstanding’


In reading (Anderson County) Mayor Terry Frank’s endorsement of Mr. Hagerty in the July 29 issue of The (Clinton) Courier News, I was struck by the fundamental misunderstanding of the crises that America faces today as she describes.

First, while all of us are against the few individuals who engage in violence during the largely peaceful “Black Lives Matter” protests, it is hardly the chaos that she claims. There is no “war” since most folks exercising their First Amendment rights do so in peaceful protest. The war she decries is just not true.

As predicted, when federal agents left Portland, for instance, the protests have been almost entirely peaceful.

Mayor Frank also failed to mention why these protests exist now. It has to do with the reality that blacks, per capita, are more likely to die from a police action than whites. In 2019, 24-percent of all police killings were of black Americans while blacks are only 13-percent of the overall population (Statista, 2 June 2020).

Americans of color are at more risk for both coronavirus infections and for police killings on a per capita basis (FBI and CDC databases, 2020).

Second, to accuse those who disagree with her in these protests as not loving their country is unjust. Considering the broad range of people who are trying to bring racial justice to the forefront, it is an insult to all of them to claim they are not patriotic.

They are veterans, health-care workers, mothers, fathers, young, old, clergy, and a whole host of folks who display their love of country every day.

Finally, to critique and then change a damaging fault in our country is a greater form of patriotism than many may realize. Our founders understood this, which is why the First Amendment right of free speech is so central to our representative democracy.

Racism is very real in America and it literally kills those whom it oppresses. All lives will matter when black lives finally matter equally.

Loving our country means bringing this to awareness, even if it needs loud protests to do so, and then working to change this harsh reality. People fighting for change love their country as much as Mayor Frank.

I am glad the mayor exercises her First Amendment right to endorse a candidate for the Senate. If she does so in her capacity as the Anderson County mayor, then it would be wise to have a better understanding of the facts as they relate to her main concern of division in America.

Chaplain (Lieutenant Colonel) Eric Keller, United States Army (Retired)

Chair, Anderson County Democratic Party

Oak Ridge