Plaques represent lack of moral compass


To the Editor:

Racism in America is a deeply entrenched system. The debate in Oak Bluffs over the two plaques on a Civil War monument underscores this grotesque, blood-soaked stain on our nation. Opponents of removing the plaques argue that they should stay in the name of honoring all who fought in wars. Are these same honors to be extended to the Nazi soldiers responsible for the Holocaust and the death of our fathers and uncles, the perpetrators of the My Lai massacre, the snipers who killed unarmed civilians and children in Sarajevo, and the genocide of our Native American population? I think not!

The purpose of Confederate soldiers was to kill Northern soldiers in an effort to maintain slavery. I do not honor Confederate soldiers. Island veterans as a group, not unlike society in general, have divergent and varying perspectives on the important and overall world views. We answered the nation’s call in order to protect the rights of citizens to respectfully and thoughtfully express their differing points of view. Reporter Landry Harlan’s statement in the April 26 Vineyard Gazette — “But others, including Martha’s Vineyard veterans, have taken an opposite view, arguing that the plaques should stay in the name of honoring all who fought in wars” — is, in my opinion, misleading journalism. Island veterans, rightly, do not speak with one voice on this important matter, as Harlan implies.

As a combat veteran, I am wholeheartedly in support of removing the plaques. In my opinion, the presence of the plaques represents America’s longstanding lack of a moral compass. Racism is, regrettably, alive and well on Martha’s Vineyard. All of us will be complicit in our self-annihilation if we do not acknowledge this unsettling reality and act accordingly.


Steve Maxner
West Tisbury

  • You Steve Maxner definitely do not speak as the giant of majority of us island combat veterans and you never have since moving to Martha’s Vineyard.
    The plaques will eventually stay! (VNUSMCCOMBATVET)

  • Since when has it become the duty of the Oak Bluffs Selectmen to provide Summer visitors with “safe spaces”?

    • If visitors believe the locals are welcoming, they visit and spend money. If visitors believe the locals are not welcoming, they do not visit and do not spend money. Which brings in tourist dollars?

  • Mr Maxner. Racism is not alive and well in a country that elected a black for two terms,gave us LBJ’s Great Society, affirmative action and trillions of dollars of aid and support. You use the word too freely.

    • It is truly ignorant to make such a false claim, Andrew. White supremacists are very much alive and practicing in this country. I suppose you never heard of the Charleston church shooting, to name only one recent example of the prevalent racism and rise in hate crimes. But no need to travel any distance. Read many the online social media comments regarding this plaque.

      • Jackie– on the Charleston church shooting– Fox “news” reported it as an attack on a Christian Church– There are some under educated people who get their “news” only from fox. It took them 2 weeks to admit the fact it was racially motivated.
        Just look at the way Andrew describes Obama– “a black”

        • Exactly, Don. Andrew first claims, “racism is not alive and well” in this country. When he cannot defend such an obviously false statement, he switches over to minimizing how alive racism is–after all, racism does not personally or negatively impact his white life. Which brings up the point of why these plaques belong in the museum. It’s never a good idea to stand where the racists stand. Of course, not everyone who wants these plaques to remain in place is racist, (although merely arguing for them to remain is an act of micro-aggression, imo), but all the racists who are dismissing or diminishing all the reasons to see these plaques removed to our museum do indeed want to honor, quite publicly on public land, all the still-prevalent white suprematist ideology– at the expense of all those who were deemed, by racists, as “lesser” human beings. Have you changed your mind yet on removing these plaques to the museum?

    • I recall many racist insults aimed at President Obama and his family during his public service as President.

  • Jackie do you really believe that in a country of 330 million you can eliminate EVERY vestige of racism? This country is not a racist country if 65 million elected Obama and only half the population votes.

    • Andrew– After the election of a black president, the racist right woke up and elected the most racist president we have ever had.. Day one he said Mexicans were criminals and rapist. We cannot eliminate every vestige, but right now, we are becoming a divided nation, white supremacy is on the rise, hate crimes are on the rise, and all manner of discrimination is on the rise. We may not be able to eliminate every vestige, but we don’t have should have enough morality to not elect racists to political offices.

    • Andrew, in my view, people who deny or downplay the prevalence and impact of racism in this country deserve as much respect as those who deny or downplay the Holocaust.

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