To the Editor:

This is an open letter to Rep. Lee Zeldin in response to his May monthly recap newsletter.

Dear Mr. Zeldin:

It is a tragedy that you and your 115 colleagues were mute whenever your “leader” spewed hateful, racist rhetoric 24/7 for four years. Hate speech and actions have no place in a civilized society. Those who perpetuate it are not “very fine people.” The anti-Semitic acts are abhorrent.

The anti-democracy violence on Jan. 6 was abhorrent, yet you remained silent and tacitly supported a seditious insurrection.

As to the rest of your Fox News talking points: A country has the right to protect its citizens. That includes temporarily requesting proof of vaccination until a pandemic (look up the meaning) is globally under control. It is true that people have the right to exercise their “freedom,” however, their freedom does not include putting others at risk. The previous four years witnessed the most egregious attack on civility in recent memory. Civilized people would be able to discern that the needs of the many far outweigh the desire of the individual. There are countless fellow citizens who are, for a multitude of reasons, immunocompromised. The social contract extends to these individuals. They should not fear for their lives whenever they step out to a venue. A civil society protects the weakest.

Masks are not nonsense. Please follow the science. Unfortunately, children are vectors for this virus. Not being an educator, it is not your fault that you seem to be unaware that there are many health-fragile children in our schools. Many years (decades) ago laws were passed to provide the “least restrictive environment” for a child’s education. With that, it is incumbent upon the rest of the community to ensure that the medically fragile can attend school safely. Concern and compassion for fellow classmates cannot be such a bad lesson, don’t you agree?

Long Island’s unemployment rate is the lowest since the pandemic closed businesses in March 2020. People want to work. Instead of attacking another social contract extended during a time of crisis, why not legislate for a true living wage and public-private health insurance for American workers? Make something effective instead of parroting Fox’s angry rhetoric. If one accepts the premise that the extra $300/week is what is holding back the potential workforce from working, an analytical person would then investigate why that would be so. If that were truly the case, perhaps one would question the plight of the American worker earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hr. Rhetoric is easy, solutions are more difficult. Do your job.

“The charge that schools are indoctrinating students in a harmful theory or political mindset is a longstanding one, historians note. CRT appears to be the latest salvo in this ongoing debate,” writes Stephen Sawchuck in Education Week. (“What is Critical Race Theory, and Why Is It Under Attack?” May 18, 2021)

The “fear among critics that students — especially white students — will be exposed to supposedly damaging or self-demoralizing ideas” is the latest boogeyman threat being disseminated by the right-wing media.

Exposure to ideas is a fundamental purpose of education. Facts are facts. There is no alternate truth. What is the root of your anxiety? Step outside your door. Long Island is the ultimate example of de-facto segregation in education. This country was built on the backs of slaves — including the building that was desecrated on Jan. 6. Why is acknowledging the truth such a threat to you? You are using words such as “dumb down” to elicit a knee-jerk reaction to fear-mongering. Please stop. Our country can and should be better than this.

When confronted with such biased rhetoric, instead of printing it in your newsletter to your constituents, I encourage you to first research the facts, then use your position to improve society’s condition.

Marianne Porcelli-White
Riverhead


Editor’s note: The “In My Opinion” column is open to anyone who wants to submit a viewpoint on any topic. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not reflect the point of view of RiverheadLOCAL’s publishers. We welcome submissions. Be sure to include your email address and daytime phone number. Click here to submit your opinion.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.