Wilder and Fairfax’s

long wait for due process

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

After reading two of the July 16 Letters to the Editor, I felt obliged to reply to Sheryl Baldwin. She said that “apparently, nothing beyond that occurred, indicating Gov. Wilder’s advance was not further pressed upon being rebuffed.”

Yet in reading the letter from Art Seidenberg, a faculty member of VCU, he said that after then-20-year-old Sydney Black declined Wilder’s offers, she was told that she had lost her job as office assistant in the Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs.

Maybe losing a job isn’t a big thing to Baldwin, but it can be a terrible thing to happen to other people. I agree that both Doug Wilder and Justin Fairfax deserve due process, but it sure is taking a long time to get these two problems resolved.

Marion Pierce.


Letter reflected

partisan bias

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

I was absolutely gobsmacked by Sheryl Baldwin’s letter of July 16, regarding the investigation of Doug Wilder. After reading the letter several times, I was unable to find anything other than hyperpartisan bias with complete disregard for the victim in this case. The statement that “these attacks are deeply disturbing, not least because they seem not to be coming from Republicans...” is, in itself, deeply disturbing. The entire letter seems to dismiss the fact that an independent investigation into the issue found that the former governor was, at best, in the wrong. It is at the least quite disturbing that in the current political atmosphere, someone could be so dismissive of a claim of sexual harassment. I do agree with the final sentence of her letter that “at all levels, we must be better than this.”

R. Martin Long.


Salary like Wilder’s

drives up tuition, debt

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

I do not care about former Gov. Doug Wilder’s relationship with a 20-year-old woman, although I think it would be inappropriate for a person of his stature to have any relationship other than a professional one with a student or office personnel.

What I do think about is VCU paying Wilder $150,000 for 24 credit hours of lecturing. We have numerous politicians wanting to find ways to reduce student debt and loans while the former governor is making $6,250 per hour. Now I can further understand why tuition and student debt is so outrageously high.

James McBride.

North Chesterfield.

Not standing for Pledge

mortifies reader

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Mortified. That’s my reaction to the July 16 front-page story “Teen says Capitol officer forced him to stand for Pledge.” My mortification is that a young American visitor to the Virginia Senate gallery needed to be prompted to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and to show respect for the country that gives him his freedom. I am vastly disappointed that his mother seemed to think that was perfectly OK to sit and that she had mirrored her son’s actions from the House of Delegates gallery. One can only hope that as the teen grows into adulthood, he will come to understand a better way to affect our system of government than acting out of his perceived rights as a youth. I would hope his mom, as a political organizer, would see the power of her example on youngsters and would encourage them to work within the system rather than adding to the discord. I would think that standing for the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem would be positive beginnings to a discussion on further achieving rights, rather than an in-your-face action that builds further barriers.

I am distressed to learn that the official response to this incident is for the Capitol Police now to routinely accept guests to the chambers sitting during the Pledge of Allegiance.

Louisa W. Rucker.


Forcing teen to stand

was a ‘jingoistic act’

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

A Capitol Police officer grabbed a 16-year-old visitor to the Virginia Senate gallery by the shirt and yanked him to his feet during the Pledge of Allegiance. The article in the Times-Dispatch quoted Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond: “The officer didn’t seem to recognize that the student was sitting as a form of protest.” What an awful shading of the truth.

Some sources indicate that the Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1885. Others say it was 1892. It has been recited in schools, legislatures and many other venues for decades. To say the officer misunderstood the young man’s intentions stretches belief. Why not call it what it was: a nationalistic, jingoistic act. It’s in the same spirit expressed by the president: “America: love it or leave it.” If we can explain away such repression and rejection of free thought, we have lost our way as Americans.

I.N. Sporn.


Reader decries comments

by Taeb over recent defeat

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

In regard to the June 29 news story “Ex-Va. Senate hopeful says foreign accounts targeted her on Twitter”: Members of the Iranian American Community of the Virginia (IAC-VA) are proud to actively engage in state and national political processes, and educate their representatives, the community and the media on priorities important to their community. We also are proud of our advocacy for a democratic change in our homeland, Iran. Promoting human rights, gender equality and seeking accountability for the 1988 massacre of thousands of political prisoners in Iran — which Amnesty International has labeled as crimes against humanity — also is a pillar of our activism. Many of the victims’ loved ones are among our community members. We are therefore, acting based on our human dignity and conscious, not at the direction of any third party, as suggested by the article.

To be clear, our community has been subjected to a vicious defamation by Yasmine Taeb’s campaign, laying bare its intolerance and even suppression of our identity as Iranian Americans fulfilling our civic engagement, including in Senate District 35.

We, however, for the health of electoral process and continued focus on issues important to our diverse immigrant community, opted to stay above the fray.

Our all-volunteer members, which include Democrats and Republicans, cherish their civic responsibility to be active in the political process. After all, that is why we support a democratic movement for change in Iran so that Iranians can enjoy the same rights as we do in the United States.

Taeb’s insistence on blaming her electoral defeat on “Twitter accounts” indicates the degree to which her campaign invested in cyber space instead of connecting with real people.

As Thomas Jefferson said, “Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom.”

Phillip Choobin,

President, Iranian American Community of Virginia.Arlington.

Commenting is limited to Times-Dispatch subscribers. To sign up, click here.
If you’re already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.