Readers Write: Letter-writer’s unacceptable ignorance of racism, discrimination

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I was disgusted by Larry Penner’s piece of March 12, in which he, without any irony whatsoever, declared racism and discrimination in America to be extinct and any residual impact of slavery and Jim Crow to have been completely remediated.

 Particularly reprehensible was Penner’s implication that, because his direct ancestors (Eastern European Jews) never owned African American slaves, it was wrong to use his tax dollars to examine the possibility of reparations.  (Whichever aspiring comedian on your payroll thought up the oh-so-clever “Reparations are not kosher” title for the online version of the letter should, quite frankly, be fired.)

It is a shameful and inconvenient truth that our nation was built on the backs of African slaves and their American-born descendants.  It is also an incontrovertible fact that the same system of white supremacy that kept generations of Black Americans in bondage did not disappear in the 1860s or 1960s and still poisons American society today.

It is everyone’s moral duty (regardless of how culpable one’s ancestors were) to dismantle such systemic bigotry and to come as close to a society free of hate, violence and poverty as is humanly possible.  Penner’s claim that we’ve already achieved this goal would be hilarious if it weren’t so insidious.

Speaking of culpability, I would point out the harm of publishing a letter like Penner’s does, but you’ve made it clear on countless occasions that you believe it isn’t your responsibility as a publisher to moderate reader submissions.  Shame on Penner and shame on you.

Matthew Zeidman

New Hyde Park

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