Letter: Reflect Laguna Values

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It is offensive that the Independent has given a column with the title “Common Sense” to a polarizing piece written by Jennifer Welsh Zeiter. Since George Floyd’s killing, the Independent publishes its first article on race with Zeiter’s attack on Black Lives Matters as a threat to “the soul of America.” Does that reflect the values of Laguna Beach? Does it reflect honestly on the history of our nation? The answer is that it reflects a deeply disturbing part of our history. Zeiter repeats long-standing, paranoiac tropes of the John Birch Society and the Christian Anti-Communist Crusade. As the history shows, similar arguments were brandished by white “Citizens Councils.” Perhaps the paper is unaware that organizations such as the KKK characterized the civil rights movement and those pushing for racial equality and justice as “socialists and communists.” Indeed, this is what was hurled against Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Perhaps the author and editor did not realize the historical connection here and that it was white supremacist organizations that called for the end of civil rights legislation because of its “communist” inspiration. 

The author wrote of BLM’s “destroying American culture and history,” such that even Jesus may be next. How inflammatory. Is the author and the paper suggesting that to recognize America’s awful history of slavery, Jim Crow, and current discrimination is being anti-Christian and against Jesus Christ? Zeiter cherry picks quotes from young BLM leaders without any quote of the organization’s mission nor any mention of why young people—black and white—have taken to the streets to defend black lives—their fundamental civil rights. Nor does Zeiter deign to mention any of the black lives lost in whose names the movement was founded and acts—the killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others, other than her acknowledgement that there are “instances of racism.”   

One of the strongest arguments for Black Lives Matter is this column and the paper presenting it as “common sense.” The Independent did solicit a Guest Column, written by Jean Hastings Ardell, an author and respected local community leader. Noticeably, Ardell’s measured response is configured at the bottom right of the page. It does not share the same prominence, much less the heading “Common Sense.” 

Greg Shaffer, Laguna Beach

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6 COMMENTS

  1. I think Greg really really needs a history lesson much less information from the co-dependency aspect of life. Jennifer’s article was right on, intelligent and certainly makes sense. Let’s give the black community the road to independence and not through the democratic hysteria of hand outs. Let’s give them freedom to create and be independent in the sense of true worth which unlike the zealous rantings of Greg would seem so foreign to him. Government is not the maker of man, it is the taking away. cheers to Jennifer for having the guts to say the truth and getting out of the gov box.

  2. In her column, Ms. Zeiter writes:

    “Are there instances of racism? Absolutely. Should they be condemned, reforms made?”

    Is there any record that Ms. Zeiter has exposed such “instances” of racism AND the proposed necessary “reforms”?

    Historically, in our country, reform movements are often characterized in pejorative terms including “socialist” and “Communist”. Why do we give credit to them for all our problems. Does anybody truly not recognize the role which democratic socialists have played in the reform movements during our history? Does Ms. Zeiter know that she has the right to vote because, in significant part, of the efforts of American socialists? Why libel an entire movement of Americans and pretend they never contributed anything positive to our history just because you don’t like the word “socialist”?

    What, exactly, about the Black Lives Movement so infuriates Ms. Zeiter? Has Ms. Zeiter ever marched for justice? Has Ms. Zeiter ever associated herself with any organization which works for economic, political, or social justice and needed reforms — and then been labeled an extremist for her work?

    When are we going to stop looking for ways to portray other Americans as unacceptable or outside our traditions and, instead, work on correcting our many obvious problems?

    Groups like the John Birch Society were almost universally recognized as right-wing extremist organizations when they first came into existence because Americans believed in fair play and decency toward other Americans.

    During the time when the JBS also described all their opponents as “Communists” or “Comsymps” or “agents of a vast criminal conspiracy” — they conveniently ignored their own numerous connections to racial and religious bigots. In fact, at least 4 members of the JBS National Council were life-long segregationists and the founder of the JBS (Robert Welch) left the GOP in 1956 to campaign and vote for a segregationist (T. Coleman Andrews Sr.) for President. Welch did the same thing in 1976 when he chose to vote for another segregationist Tom Anderson. Meanwhile, major officials of the White Citizens Council movement became JBS members and JBS employees while KKK-linked individuals became paid speakers for the JBS. For example, former Selma AL Sheriff James Clark and Rev. Ferrell Griswold. Griswold told the FBI during an interview that he spoke at KKK events because he considered the KKK to be a “conservative” and “patriotic” organization. Since 1947, the KKK was listed on the U.S. Attorney General’s List of Subversive Organizations!!

    So, beware of commentary like Ms. Zeiter’s. It has a long intellectual history of trying to scare the American people into believing that all movements for reform must follow ONLY the rules which Ms. Zeiter thinks are appropriate even though we have no reason to believe that she has ever accomplished anything for social justice.

  3. MJ Abraham on Hotel Laguna owner was ordered to stop unpermitted work twice this summer
    Dick Allen on Hotel Laguna owner was ordered to stop unpermitted work twice this summer
    They may be wrong but at least they are trying to put the hotel together WHAT IS ANYBODY ELSE DOING?????if the millennials get there way Laguna beach will be filled with condos facing beach killing Laguna beach……….WAKE UP BEFORE ITS TO LATE

  4. In Jennifer Zeiter’s column, Defending the Soul of America, July 17th, her lack of due diligence is lazy and irresponsible, but more importantly, it’s dangerous. Many conservatives insist Black Lives Matter is a Marxist, anti-police, radical organization that wants to tear down America. Meanwhile, most liberals simply view Black Lives Matter as a heroic movement and powerful slogan signaling support for racial justice and opposition to police brutality.
    The organization itself was quite radical from the very beginning. At the local level, official Black Lives Matter chapters are essentially far-left front groups that use racial justice as a Trojan horse for leftist policy and ideology. For example, the official organization Black Lives Matter DC openly dedicates itself to “creating the conditions for Black Liberation through the abolition of systems and institutions of white supremacy, capitalism, patriarchy, and colonialism.” Unsurprisingly, conservatives have bashed the radical group en masse saying it is fully embraced by the Democrat Party and its media and cultural surrogates.
    These kinds of conservative criticisms of Black Lives Matter are widespread. And on one hand, they’re right: The official Black Lives Matter organization is Marxist, is anti-American in its values, and its views are rightfully alarming to anyone who believes in the Constitution, capitalism, and civil society as we know it. But in applying their reflexive response to all Black Lives Matter supporters, conservative critics are failing to see the forest for the trees.
    It may well be true that in particular conservative circles, everyone is well aware of the obscure history of the Black Lives Matter founders’ Marxist roots. But the average person on the street and the average person who shares the hashtag are most certainly not. And the movement itself has become something much bigger, broader, and more benevolent than the original organization.
    However, it’s by no means just conservatives who err in their approach to Black Lives Matter. For one, many on the Left fail to acknowledge at all the Marxist roots of the official Black Lives Matter organization, and thus, paint anyone who objects to the organization as racist, unthinkingly inveighing: “How could anyone not support black lives?” This kind of clever naming of a controversial movement, similar to “Antifa” supposedly standing for “anti-fascist,” makes it easy to baselessly paint critics as extreme and immoral. Yet this is a reductive oversimplification that serves only to divide. So, too, much of the blame for the Black Lives Matter perception gap lies with liberals, Democrats, and others who support the movement for failing to adequately distance themselves from the radical organization. Such a divisive ideology only fuels perpetual conflict, not progress toward reconciliation. By failing to drive this toxic extremism out loudly and clearly from their side of the issue, the large majority of Black Lives Matter supporters—who simply seek reform, justice, and reconciliation—take a chainsaw to any chance of achieving common ground and consensus.
    We need more clarity in our discourse. Right now, the debate over “Black Lives Matter” is muddled and confused. Liberals and conservatives alike need to make an effort to listen and understand the other side’s perspective, not the strawman caricature of it used as a punching bag in partisan echo chambers. Until both sides take the time to understand each other, we will keep talking past each other—and any real progress or harmony will remain a fantasy.
    When Ms. Zeiter sees BLM as “a movement more intent on destroying American culture and history than improving black lives”, the vast majority of these people, while liberal, do not support ending capitalism, dismantling the family, or abolishing the police. They would just like to acknowledge that black lives matter.

  5. Mr. Koch, I think you got your articles mixed up. This column isn’t about the Laguna Hotel and the recent City Red Tag stop work orders. FYI- I’m not against anyone improving any building in our town. I strongly support the City enforcing our codes and ordinances and diligent oversight when permits are issued and residents and contractors abiding by them. I don’t see where this perspective has anything to do with millennials and their housing preferences. Thanks.

  6. Jill Cooper, I agree with this statement” “Liberals and conservatives alike need to make an effort to listen and understand the other side’s perspective, not the strawman caricature of it used as a punching bag in partisan echo chambers. Until both sides take the time to understand each other, we will keep talking past each other—and any real progress or harmony will remain a fantasy.”

    Laguna Beach has always had a healthy balance of liberals and conservatives. I believe this has helped us thrive so well and attract others to our welcoming and beautiful coastal environment. Over the last few years, we have seen our local and respectful people harmony divided by dark money politics that may very well ruin our City forever. I know many liberals and conservatives who are very concerned and want nothing to do with such radical political thinkers, negative vitriol and extreme behaviors. Common Sense would be for LB residents to say NO to such NonSense.

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