To the Editor:

We have all heard, from various sources, that if we don’t learn from history, history will repeat itself. The repeating is happening now, especially in a couple of Southern states, and the events bear watching. Keeping track of the events unfolding are worth our time, even if the current tendency is to tune out the news so that our daily lives won’t be disrupted.

First, in Tennessee. The state legislature held a vote to expel three members for simply exercising their rights they have as citizens, (as well as elected representatives), by participating in a peaceful protest over the loss of three young children to yet another shooter. The speaker of the state house said it was “against the rules.” This is where the story gets ugly, like 1950’s ugly. The final vote was: we’ll keep the white lady, but we’ll expel the two black men. Bear in mind, all three participated in the same protest!

Over the entire history of the legislature, there have been many worse activities that did not result in expulsion, including never expelling a member of the KKK. The speaker’s rendition of the story had chilling overtones suggesting that they were not submissive or as contrite as he felt they should have been, and kept pointing a finger at them in a derogatory manner. I haven’t heard of anything this overtly racist in a long, long time. It makes me ill, and I hope my fellow North Carolinians feel the same, and would never let it happen here.

Shifting south to Florida, events there have equal or even more frightening connections to past history than the actions in Tennessee. Many of my wife’s family members are school teachers, and are absolutely appalled at the way the education system is being manipulated. Besides restrictions on what “history” can be taught, there is a rapidly growing list of books that are banned.

Teachers have to hide books for fear of losing their jobs. “Banned” seems to be the new, socially acceptable version of “burned,” but it is a distinction without a difference. How many important books were burned/banned in Germany in the late 1930s? Have we learned nothing from history? Surely North Carolina will remember history and not repeat the stifling of knowledge in Florida?

Please take time from your busy days to learn from what’s happening in other states and past history. It’s up to us. Will we learn, or go back to a much darker point in time?

Mark Ballinger, Sylva