June 29, 2020 10:11:24 AM
Struggles to follow points of letter
The June 26th Dispatch included a letter from Leroy Lollar in which he criticized Bill Gilmore's June 23rd column. In that column, Gilmore argued the drug war, first begun in the U.S. a century ago, has had many unintended and negative side effects both here and elsewhere. He argued further that in the U.S., African-Americans have been disproportionately and negatively affected by some of those unintended developments. Fine. Gilmore is as free to make this argument as Lollar is to criticize it.
But somehow Mr. Lollar interpreted the column as claiming something quite different: that the labeling of cocaine, marijuana, and other drugs as controlled substances was the reason African-Americans have become addicts. Lollar's letter also managed to bring in NASCAR, Planned Parenthood, Antifa, guns, and "erasing history." What?? Some of these topics are indirectly related to African-Americans, sure. But, while apartheid and mountain gorillas both have to do with Africa, it would make no more sense to bring up apartheid in criticizing a piece on mountain gorillas than it does for Lollar to mention Jussie Smollet (he did). I would not call him insane for thinking what he thinks -- just completely illogical.
Case in point: Much of Lollar's letter is focused on the assertion that "erasing history" is both impossible and undesirable. I agree but that matters little since the point is completely irrelevant; that would make sense if Mr. Gilmore had pushed that idea. But he didn't. Gilmore discusses history, yes, but only events relevant to his argument and nothing even close to monument removal, etc.
As I have said before, it would be great if all letter writers would avoid sarcasm and name-calling. Mr. Lollar fails here -- as have I on occasion. We can do better. We gain nothing with punches below the belt; those only appeal to those who already agree with us. If our goal is to convince those who disagree to consider our ideas with an open mind, name-calling and sarcasm are a pretty bad way to start.
So, argue the merits of Mr. Gilmore's argument if you wish -- but restrict your comments to facts that clearly contradict his conclusion. And be polite when doing so. May I suggest that you read either of Kathy Reed's recent letters to the Dispatch as models of how that could be done. While she and I appear to have quite divergent points of view, I respect the care she takes to make her arguments both reasoned and diplomatic. It does not go unnoticed.