What Jewish kids learn from witnessing hatred | Column, Aug. 17
Why we teach the Holocaust
Each summer, the Florida Holocaust Museum updates a different section of our permanent exhibition, adding new artifacts and technology. As it happens, we have been working on "The Rise of the Nazis" section over the past few weeks. If anyone has pondered on the relevancy of teaching about the Holocaust in 2017, the events of Charlottesville, Va., should make that clear.
I've been asked over the last few days to talk about the new face of American white supremacy. While no expert in contemporary Nazism, I do not see a new face. The neo-Nazis of today marched through the University of Virginia campus, thrusting lit torches into the air while screaming racist invectives. Who could witness that scene and not immediately be transported to scenes of lynchings, pogroms and autos-da-fé of the past?
People throughout the centuries tried to justify their own hatred and bigotry by exploiting the fears and prejudices of their contemporary societies, using the tools they had at their disposal to try to make hate palatable to the general public. The "new face" of fascism in America is no different. While they may refer to their narrative as competing or "alternative," it is not new. It is the same narrative of hate, coated now in 21st century clothing.
At the Florida Holocaust Museum, we use the lessons of the Holocaust to help identify the ominous echoes of history. We believe that the best way to combat prejudice and bigotry is to educate about the terrible consequences of unchecked hatred.
In that spirit, the museum has partnered with Eckerd College to present Frank Meeink, author of Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead. I invite our community to join us in Eckerd's Fox Hall on Sept. 7 from 7 to 9 p.m. to learn more about the white supremacist movement and, more important, to find hope.
Elizabeth Gelman, St. Petersburg
The writer is executive director of the Florida Holocaust Museum.
UF should let Spencer speak Editorial, Aug. 17
A First Amendment martyr
Your editorial states that the University of Florida, in denying Richard Spencer's right to speak, placed campus security above the First Amendment. You reinforce this thought by calling in the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, whose executive director thought UF made a mistake.
Your editorial expresses the opinion that the state and UF can create a smart security plan, which would grant safe passage to all without creating a riot.
In response to that I have a suggestion. Why not have the Tampa Bay Times set an example by inviting Spencer to deliver his message on your front steps? After you see how that goes, share your learning experience with UF.
You conclude by stating that UF's decision to exclude Spencer made him a martyr for the First Amendment. That's okay with me.
There's no question in my mind that the right to free speech is well-entrenched in our society, especially in the political realm; all we have to do is to look toward our president, Donald Trump.
Joe Green, Brooksville
What Americans value
Both editorials got it right ("UF should let Spencer speak" and "Commissioners, just move the monument").
Editorials always boil down to a question of values of the heart. And these particular heartfelt and thoughtful editorials are worth a rereading.
Your conclusions in both reflect the cherished values of our democracy found in the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution.
Dan Tutoli, Seminole
Same sad story for Callaway, UF | Aug. 15
Hard to discipline athletes
This is not a sad story but, rather one that repeats itself almost daily: coaches and universities unable to adequately address the misconduct of athletes. Athletic programs at major universities produce significant sums of revenue, allowing expansions of programs, facilities and the hiring of "star" professors.
The salaries of coaches are in the millions and are dependent upon winning. To believe that coaches will adroitly address athletes' misconduct is simply not going to happen.
The "sadness" of this story and many others is that some athletes are never held accountable for their actions. UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen stated it best recently when he said that playing college football does not lend itself to being a student.
College coaches should not have a voice in addressing and/or meting out punishment for those athletes who have misconduct issues.
Larry Albert, Dade City
Statue could stay put | Aug. 17
Lincoln statues everywhere
A solution to the Confederate statue controversy would be to replace all of them with statues of Abraham Lincoln. After all, President Donald Trump likes a winner.
John Stansel, Lutz
Trump questions if McConnell should remain majority leader | Aug. 11
Where does the buck stop?
President Donald Trump now blames Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for not moving his legislative agenda.
Trump doesn't seem to realize that it is the President's responsibility to move the agenda by appealing not only to Congress but to the American people.
Instead of holding rallies to feed his insatiable appetite for recognition and approval, he should be using his much-touted salesmanship to sway public opinion.
If Trump needs to find someone to blame for the lack of legislative momentum, he should look in the mirror.
Ernest Bartow, St. Petersburg