Profiling on the Palouse

I was standing inside a local business when I thought I heard a store employee ask me to check my backpack. I looked up and started to say something, but the employee said “Oh, I’m not worried about you.” She nodded toward another customer.

I am white. The other customer was black.

This appeared to be a case of racial profiling. I have never been asked to leave my pack in that store, although I shop there often, and until that incident I had never seen anyone else be asked to leave a pack or a bag. A letter that I wrote bringing this to the manager’s attention got no reply.

I understand that theft is a concern for retail businesses, but store owners should require employees to be consistent. If a store’s policy is that customers must leave their backpacks, all customers should have to do so, and vice versa. Leaving things to subjective judgment sets the stage for actions based on stereotypes.

Bertie Weddell


Correct me if I’m wrong

I recently received a mailing at my home address from Sen. Jim Risch. On one side was a list of seven of his accomplishments in the U.S. Senate. The other side listed three things that he and his staff would do to serve us if he was reelected. At the very bottom: “Prepared, published and mailed at taxpayer expense.” What! Shouldn’t it have been, “Paid for by committee to reelect Jim Risch?”

I have been through many elections, have even served as an elected official and I know that this mailing was something that we as taxpayers should not be paying for. Correct me if I’m wrong.

Marcia Spakoski


Statues aren’t enough

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner for 10 years in the former Soviet Union. He describes the conditions that prisoners endured in “The Gulag Archipelago,” and he discusses the moral warping required to create such a system, saying that without evildoers, there would be no such.

He mentions a couple of other countries. Because it’s universal, isn’t it? No state or ideology is immune. They all can be corrupted, and produce evildoers who believe they are doing good.

We wrapped our land theft and genocide of America’s first people in our flag and our religion, and felt blessed and pure. If it’s true that there’s no forgiveness for sin without actual repentance, then I propose that we bump up the real estate tax to start paying rent to the original landowners.

I’m grateful to Paul Zerzan, writing from Guam (Letter to the Editor, June 6), for steering me to the story of (Black) George Washington Bush. He led a (white) wagon train to Oregon. They found that racial exclusion laws would not allow him to settle there. They all went north. When Washington became a territory, the territorial exclusion law came with it. The legislature passed (unanimously) an exemption for Bush’s family, because they had rescued so many people who were financially ruined by the Oregon Trail. One bi-racial family. The west was reserved for white skins.

Legality does not equal morality.

Which brings us to the racist roots of drug prohibition. It was seen that Chinese, Blacks, and Mexicans could be repressed, by passing laws against their drugs, and strongly enforcing them. You can reform the police departments all you want, but if they are still required to enforce racist laws, racial unrest will rise again.

Anti-integration statues are coming down throughout the South. The racist framework of America’s legal system must come down, too.

Wiley Hollingsworth


‘We Wear A Mask’

This poem (a rondeau) was inspired by the poem “We Wear the Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906). In my poem, “we” refers to society in general, and the poem is descriptive rather than prescriptive.

We wear a mask above our nose;

Our neighbor’s sick, we should suppose;

To make the airflow more pristine,

A shield or filter comes between,

A cloth refines the air that flows.

We heed our TVs, radios,

But do not listen to our foes;

We hide our thoughts, so they’re not seen—

We wear a mask.

The merging clouds of ills oppose

Our daily lives, so panic grows;

Still clinging to a colored screen,

We’re sucked into the big machine,

But hide behind an online pose —

We wear a mask.

Alan Steinle


Alarmed by college’s ad

I was alarmed after viewing a recent advertisement for New Saint Andrews questioning the recent Supreme Court of the United States’ decision banning discrimination on the basis of sex and gender identity, where they used our city of Moscow downtown bathrooms to reinforce their discriminatory views on transgender people for a recruitment video for their school.

It’s ironic that NSA used the tagline, “Going against the flow,” for their ad, because this Supreme Court win for trans rights, for LGBTQIA+ rights, wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t overnight. Protecting the most vulnerable among us is going against the flow of a long history of discrimination and hate, and this Supreme Court decision is long overdue. It is always alarming to see people with the most privilege act like they’re the victims.

New Saint Andrews is located in Moscow, in a place that prides itself on being welcoming and valuing everyone regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation.

I think it would be appropriate to change the downtown bathrooms near Friendship Square to gender neutral bathrooms. If an organization is going to use our tax-funded public restrooms to reinforce their prejudice, to try to entice students who share those discriminatory values to enroll, then I think our tax-funded bathrooms should be inclusive and gender neutral.

I hope New Saint Andrews’ incoming students come to a Moscow that is inclusive, that they feel welcome in, and that for the love of god, has gender neutral public bathrooms.

Eija Sumner


The concept of freedom

Toni Morrison reminds us in her “Playing in the Dark” that “the concept of freedom did not emerge in a vacuum. Nothing highlighted freedom — if it did not in fact create it — like slavery.”

The coming of our local police departments in the 19th century followed hard on the “freeing” of our slaves — thus ensuring that to this day our “freed” slaves and pre-European natives are not free like we who perpetuate white supremacy. We are not spending a fortune to catch speeding motorists. We are not protecting the ownership of guns to keep our children safe from white people — or to kill a deer or two.

Police unions are not controlled by the U.S. Constitution but by statutes — we can vote as early as this November for legislators who will require that every incident of violence by our police against any of our citizens must be investigated from the first second by offices of special prosecutors appointed solely for that purpose.

If our neighbors with nonwhite skins are not safe, no one is safe. Is your skin white enough, do you think? Would you agree to wear a white star on your outer clothing?

Ronald Hufham


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