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LETTERS: We should overcome our past, not erase it

LETTERS: We should overcome our past, not erase it

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The past is forever

Reports about current efforts to erase collective memory of persons, some of whom made significant contributions to history, hurt my soul. Sul Ross, a slave owner, was instrumental in development of public education in Texas, not the least of his efforts being devoted to Texas A&M University. Baylor University’s origins in the 1840s necessarily included slavery; slavery drove the economy of the south. It was institutional and pervasive. Virtually every public figure from that era was tainted by the disease. We now seek to address the still-active racism that continues to foul our society and ourselves by erasing commemorative objects and places.

The lessons from George Orwell’s book “1984” have been lost. No matter how many statues we hide in storage, no matter how many buildings or lawns we rename, we cannot erase our continuing shame. Sul Ross is not celebrated for the number of slaves he owned or how he treated them, and neither is Rufus Burleson or Judge Baylor. Their contributions cannot be erased by newspeak. We cannot clip printed references from books and newspapers as was done in Orwell’s world. The year 1984 has come and gone from the calendar, but Texas A&M and Baylor remain, along with thousands of graduates, former faculty and the contributions of each of these persons. We cannot celebrate racism, but we cannot merely move it to another place and pretend it never existed.

We can do better. We can celebrate the heroes of our past for their contributions, not for their flaws. We can’t erase the memories of racism, but we can overcome its presence. Education, health care, social services and infrastructure need not be distributed on the basis of skin color. You, gentle reader, may feel the short hairs prickle, but the truth is inescapable. Fixing today’s racial inequalities requires much more effort than removing a few statues. We can’t change the past, but we can determine our future.

Jay McMillen, Woodway

Baylor flat-footed

How on earth could Baylor’s athletic director and president be caught so flat-footed and lose Kim Mulkey to LSU?

Whatever the financial cost, it should have been met so that the university retained Coach Mulkey. Yes, the Baylor men just won their first national title and coach Scott Drew is due tremendous appreciation, but Mulkey has brought three national titles to Baylor and Waco. Baylor has epitomized the case of women being paid far less than men, well after she had proved herself by bringing three national titles to Baylor and Waco.

What more could Baylor ask while paying her over $1.6 million less per year than its men’s coach? The fault clearly lies with the athletic director and president and trustees of the university. Almost from the time LSU’s athletic director left Texas A&M to return to his alma mater, he has talked of hiring Mulkey away from Baylor. If Baylor’s athletic director and president were not aware, they must be living under a large rock. The athletic director has already shown his incompetence by hiring a totally unproven football coach. The football coach hiring will put Baylor back to the pre-Briles era for years to come.

John R. Cawthron Sr., McGregor

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