Below are a few letters in response to a previous Faceoff that appeared in the Cumberland Times-News.

Free to fly Nazi flag, but ‘we choose love, not hate’

To the Editor:

I had the idea that on the Nazi flag issue Dick and Dave would surprise us: They would both be on the same side! If those who write for newspapers don’t understand the value of the First Amendment (free speech), then who does?

It has been 40 years since I studied the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in law school, but I don’t think the importance of free speech has diminished. So, as a civil libertarian, I would defend the right of someone to display the Nazi flag. But I would urge them not to do it.

I would hope that the people of Cumberland as a community agree that the public expression of hate for others because, for example, of their race, religion, or sexual orientation, is inappropriate and should be discouraged. I would hope that, as responsible citizens, we are willing to remind those who do not conform to this norm that in Cumberland we choose love, not hate.

At the personal level, let us neither condone nor give up on friends, neighbors, relatives, and co-workers who express hate-filled views. Let’s be willing to listen to them, explore with them the source of their hate, and possibly help them come to the realization that there’s a better way to view those with whom they share a common humanity.

Finally, let’s not forget that Wednesday, June 14, is Flag Day. Let’s all fly the Stars and Stripes.

Rev. Dave Hunter, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Greater Cumberland

In comparing Bush to Hitler, Kerns needs parental guidance

To the Editor:

This is in regards to the issue of the Nazi flag. I really do not want to use disparaging remarks against a relative but I am afraid I must. First let me say that if still alive, Richard Kerns’ father, being a proud career Marine and a great guy and even though he dedicated his life protecting the right of some nut to display a Nazi flag, would probably have torn the flag off of the porch on which it was displayed. That is only my opinion.

However, getting back to the point, Richard again skirted the issue and used his column to bash the president and once again remind us of how many casualties we have suffered thus far in the war. Sounds like 1970 to me. He seems to work those two themes into his column at every opportunity no matter what the issue.

Also, how can any reporter in good conscience compare a president of the United States, any president, to the most infamous and horrendous man in modern history, Adolph Hitler? That is unconscionable. Believe me, being a career military man myself; I do not want any more war casualties. However, if we do not resolve the issue there where will we resolve it? Nobody would love to see all of our forces pull out of the war zone and let Muslim factions fight among themselves more than me. Some sectors like to compare Iraq to Vietnam. In many ways it is, but there is one exception: Vietnam was a nation that only wanted us to get the hell of their country, while the Muslims, who have followers and fanatics numbering in the millions, maybe billions throughout the world, want us destroyed, crushed, beaten into oblivion because we are the “great devil.” Will we fight them there or here? That is the question. I am sure Richard means well, but he was way off of his mark this past week. I’m also positive that Dot is very proud of her son, but I wish she would sit him down and talk to him.

Rich, lets have a beer sometime, my treat. Kudos on last Wednesday’s column.

MSgt. Jim Williams, USAF (Ret), LaVale

Distasteful as it is to agree with a liberal, Kerns right on flag

To the Editor:

I hate to agree with a liberal, but in this case the Constitution trumps all arguments. My solution would be for neighbors near the Nazi enthusiast to acquire some Israeli flags and fly them to send the message of the Third Reich’s failure.

Dave Dougherty, Cumberland

Nazi atrocities pale in comparison to Stalin in Russia , Mao in China

To the Editor:

The idiot who flew the flag is just that: An idiot. But wear a hammer and sickle T-shirt and no one will blink. Stalin killed more Jewish people than the Nazis (not to mention the 9 million Ukranians he deliberately starved to death).

And guess what? That still leaves Mao in first place. There are 250 Holocaust museums and memorials around the world, and the odd statue of Stalin and portraits of Mao still left are considered kitsch.

Yes, the Holocaust, but there were many more than the one to which the Second World War is often considered a minor footnote.

Paul R. Brewer, Hayward, Calif.

Bush banners would help Kerns empathize with pain of Nazi flag

To the Editor:

If Mr. Kerns thinks it’s totally cool and downright American for someone to fly the Nazi flag (a symbol of hate, greed and racism) in view of the public, I sure would enjoy being a nextdoor neighbor to him. I’d erect a huge banner of Kerns’ everlasting thorn in the flesh, George W. Bush, on all sides of my house. Hey, freedom of thought.

Now, wouldn’t it be so much fun to watch Kerns wither away inside, drawing all the shads in every window? He’d probably be guzzling down more bottles of Pepto Bismal than his beer.

Well, blessed thought, he sure couldn’t sue me for harassment or personal discrimination, because he thinks it’s totally cool for someone to fly the Nazi flag.

P.S. Mr. Kerns, according to psychology, it’s a known fact that often the people we find the most irritating are often the ones who remind us of ourselves. That’s just the point. You and George W. are like two peas in a pod — cynical, hate to admit wrongs, and go it alone. Now, did I bust your bubble?

Maria Yoder, Oakland

If we outlaw Nazi flag, what banner or belief will be next?

To the Editor:

I am saddened by the vote as it stands right now: 25 percent yes, 75 percent no. Without question the Nazi flag is a symbol of hate, racism, and intolerance. But it is also any American’s right to fly that flag if he or she wishes. To censor such an act is a blatant violation of the First Amendment. Regardless of how distasteful the appearance of that symbol is to others, denying an American’s right to express him or herself is a crime. As reasonable, thinking people, we want to shout down the kind of hate and propaganda that the Nazi flag engenders, but the way to do that is not to strip an American of his or her rights.

I understand the gut reaction to rip down such an offensive symbol, but as long as we retain the right to speak freely, we have to respect others’ right to do the same. When a bigoted, hateful fool climbs on his soapbox and says things that make us want to shout at the top of our lungs, we have to be willing to shout just as loudly to defend his right to say them.

If we deny one person’s freedom of speech, what’s to stop us from denying the next? If we prohibit flying the Nazi flag today, next month perhaps someone is offended by the Iraqi flag because of the ongoing war, and seeks to ban flying that flag. Next someone notices that a Vietnam war widow starts to cry each time she sees a POW-MIA flag. That causes her pain, so we should ban that, too. And if anyone says that these actions are too much, we brand him or her either as insensitive to the feelings of the offended, or as someone who sympathizes with the group being oppressed. Where does it end?

Steve Spicer, Arlington, Va., A Cumberland native

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