To the man who recently moved to East Tennessee from California and took issue with The Daily Times printing a news story he deemed unflattering to Donald Trump: The United States Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of the press. To Trump, who said recently that no one should be allowed to say anything bad about him: We the people of the United States are guaranteed freedom of speech by the Bill of Rights included in the U.S. Constitution as the first 10 amendments.

In the Blount County school system I studied the Constitution in the seventh through 12th grades. I do not believe Trump has ever read the Constitution. He has stated that Article II, which established the powers of the president, gives him the right to do anything he wants. Article II does not do that as Richard Nixon discovered in 1973. Nixon’s corrupt and illegal actions investigated by a special counsel and the Senate Watergate Committee led to his resignation in the face of nearly certain impeachment. Republican senators told Nixon that he should resign because he was likely to be impeached and convicted of corrupt and illegal actions.

As a white person, I have never felt the pain of racist remarks directed toward me. I was not beaten almost to the point of death on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, as was Congressman John Lewis, but as Lewis said recently, “I know racism when I see it.” I have never been denied a seat at a lunch counter, but my mother, who worked in a local restaurant in the 1960s, was threatened by a member of the Ku Klux Klan because she told an African American couple to sit at the counter and eat rather than stand at the door to receive a takeout order.

I was not threatened when I entered a school building after Brown v. Board of Education decreed in 1954 that “separate but equal was not equal,” and that segregated schools were no longer legal, but I have seen the documentary film about the fire-bombing in nearby Anderson County in 1956 in an attempt to deter 12 African American students from attending Clinton High School. As a child, I remember seeing “Whites Only” signs on the drinking fountains and restrooms at the old Market House in Knoxville, where Market Square now thrives as a diverse area of shops and restaurants open to all.

To Trump, who says people of color should “go back,” I say we are not going back to that era of Jim Crow laws and segregated schools.

As Abraham Lincoln once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” We cannot let a racist, immoral and corrupt president tear this country apart by encouraging racism and division. We are not yet the “more perfect Union” to which the founding fathers aspired and to which Lincoln referred in his Gettysburg Address, but I believe the majority of Americans do not want Trump’s America.

And shame on the Republicans in the House of Representatives and the Senate who are not courageous enough to speak out against his racist remarks and who make excuses for his immorality and bragging about assaulting women when they used to claim to be the party of family values. This corrupt president and his campaign had more than 100 contacts with Russians during the 2016 campaign and many U.S. intelligence officers and the FBI have warned that the Russians will interfere in the 2020 election as they did in the 2016 election.

When asked if he would take information from the Russians in 2020, Trump said he would certainly have to take a look at it. The Republican Party formerly claimed the national security high ground, but on July 25, 2019, the GOP, led by Sen. Mitch McConnell, blocked a vote on a bill to increase election security. A Senate Intelligence Committee report released that same day details Russian intrusion into election machinery and data in each of the 50 states. The Mueller Report, which did not exonerate Trump, describes 10 instances of Trump’s obstruction of justice.

Obstruction of justice was one of the charges that brought down Richard Nixon and led to his 1974 resignation. The Trump 2016 campaign did not report Russian contacts to the FBI and, in fact, welcomed those contacts. Many of Trump’s aides and family lied to the FBI and to Congress about interactions with the Russians and their efforts to cover up those interactions (detailed in the Mueller Report, which is available online). Five of Trump’s campaign and administration cronies either have been indicted, convicted or are awaiting trial for their roles in the illegal actions.

We need leaders who actually represent the diversity of America and who embody the best of our nation rather than the worst. I urge my neighbors to exercise one of the most important freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and vote. Inform yourself by reading and watching multiple sources of information so that you can learn as much as possible about candidates for public office and vote in every election, from city and county elections to elections for state representatives and the next presidential election. Our country depends

on it.

Maryville resident Sandra C. Walker is retired from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she served as the visual resources librarian for the School of Art. Her undergraduate degree is in art history and her master’s degree is in library science.

(2) comments

myra.southern@gmail.com

Well said!

sdubois

Well said Sandra Walker. Thanks for writing this op ed.

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