Behind the Betsy Ross flag

There is presently much controversy concerning the flag Betsy Ross designed with 13 stars.

That flag, or more accurately the states (formerly colonies) it represents, has been denigrated by Colin Kaepernick (for publicity purposes), Nike (for marketing purposes) and their followers (presumably as a protest against the abomination known as slavery as it existed in 1787).

That flag was designed in 1777 at the request of George Washington and approved in 1778. Most of the states allowed slavery at the time, and Washington had slaves.

But the detractors either do not know or disregard facts of history. In 1787, those states approved the Northwest Ordinance adopted by the U.S. Congress. That ordinance established rules and standards for government of the vast territory located north and west of the Ohio River, reaching to the Mississippi River.

That territory had been obtained by the United States as a result of a treaty ending the Revolutionary War.

That territory later was developed into five states and part of Minnesota. The principles of that ordinance were that there would be freedom of religion, emphasis on public education and a total ban against any slavery or involuntary servitude in the territory.

In addition to that noteworthy and praiseworthy accomplishment by the states, the great majority of the 13 states later sacrificed a great many lives to eliminate slavery in our country.

The 13 states and their accomplishments should be honored and praised, rather than be the subject of senseless, promotion-seeking acts of disrespect.

Neil Schilke, Fremont, Neb.

Kicking the social habit

It’s 2 a.m., I cannot sleep and I am rethinking my recent decision to deactivate Facebook.

I got sucked into draining my hours posting memes and hooking my self-esteem on the amount of likes (or not) that I got for my posts. Imagine my excitement when I received a “Love” or a comment.

I decided that I needed to kick this habit for a while.

One day later, I am looking around to score my next dose of social media acceptance. I look toward my Instagram account (I didn’t deactivate that) as a quick fix. But, I resist and back away from the social media.

Now, some may find this ridiculous. However, I bet most of you reading this have some sort of social media and check it often.

If you were honest with yourself, I bet you spend hours with it during the day, even if it’s just scrolling.

Don’t get me wrong, social media is a great tool. But, as I look around, I see kids and adults glued to their phones when there is a whole world out there to enjoy.

Omaha should promote a day without social media. Maybe call it “Unscroll.”

Marie Callegari, Bellevue

Adapt but stop emissions

A July 16 World-Herald article by Nancy Gaarder laid out the reality of climate change, now and in coming decades, here in Nebraska (“UNL analysis: In 80 years, summers in Nebraska will feel like those on southern border today”).

Gaarder’s article predicts that “by the time today’s infants reach age 80, Omaha’s summertime highs could be like those along the Mexico border.”

Nebraskans continue to try to plan to adapt to a hotter planet, as well they should. But the reality is that unless we act to stop the emissions of greenhouse gases that are causing the warming, each adaptation strategy will fail as soon as the increased warming causes weather extremes too strong for the adaptation.

State climatologist Martha Shulski noted that the need to adapt doesn’t abate. “When you look at the business-as-usual curve, we don’t stabilize. The average (temperature) that we plan around … that’s going to keep going up; it doesn’t level off,” Shulski was quoted as saying, commenting on what we can expect if we continue to emit greenhouse gases at the current rate.

We are already seeing weather extremes getting worse faster than predicted 20 years ago, and global temperatures have risen only 1.8 degrees over pre-industrial levels.

This is more than climate change. It is a climate emergency.

We should take the first step to address it, by placing a price on fossil fuels. We need to do it immediately.

Frances Mendenhall, Omaha

Bacon stands firm

I wish to applaud Rep. Don Bacon for his condemnation of the president’s recent tweets, as reported in the July 16 World-Herald. He was correct when he stated that the tweets were inappropriate. It takes character and courage to stand up against this president, who has lambasted more than one dissenting Republican.

I realize that the left-leaning citizens of the U.S. do not believe that Bacon sufficiently denounced the president’s words nor intent.

Not surprising. Nothing short of an echo of sentiment that these were racist rants would satisfy them.

That’s unfortunate, because the congressman’s statement served to reinforce his willingness to stand firm for open dialogue, disagreement and decorum.

Our president could learn a thing or two from Don.

Brad Grubb, Omaha

Call to independent voters

I invite fellow independent voters concerned about the state of affairs in Washington to join me in sincerely presenting our Republican friends the following message:

First, good friend, please acknowledge (if only to yourself) that you and most other Republicans were embarrassed when Donald Trump became your party’s nominee for president.

It’s understandable that you supported and voted for him. Hillary Clinton was the alternative, and you just could not stomach that possibility. After the election, we wished fervently for President Trump to rise to what his new job would demand.

Next, you probably favor many of the policy directions Trump has nudged the county toward.

But please also acknowledge his significant shortcomings and maybe even a longing for a conservative Republican president better suited to the job. You may even share my disappointment with his, let’s call it leadership style.

And finally, here are specific actions to consider. This time grit your teeth and vote for the Democrat candidate for president or just quietly do not vote for president this time.

Then help your party come up with a strong and qualified candidate for next time, in 2024.

While we’re at it, let’s insist that our elected representatives in Washington get better at working together and ready themselves for serving alongside our next president or two, when he/she is more capable (but needs help from Congress) of unifying the country.

We cannot afford to wait for our next major national crisis to bring us together.

John Fettig, Omaha

Earn your college tuition

I personally am opposed to taxpayers being forced to pay for someone’s free college education, which several Democratic presidential candidates are pushing for.

But I am not opposed to increasing the G.I. Bill benefits with much more money for education. Since 1944, the G.I. Bill has helped millions of qualifying military veterans pay for college, graduate school and training programs (yes, this does include me).

If a person needs help paying for college, they can serve their country while performing military service and earn the money for their education.

Employers are looking for mature, educated, well-rounded and responsible potential employees. I see this as a win-win situation.

Now the liberals might complain that many people are not able to get into the military because of criminal convictions or medical issues or some other issue. I do not have all of the answers, but this could be a major start.

A college education is not a God-given right. It should be earned by people who want a real degree that will get them a real job.

Doug Arthur, Omaha

Support public schools

Given the rather large amount of state and local dollars that are earmarked for public education, some individuals, paying little heed to the separation of church and state, pursue condemnation of public schools as a first step to convert public education to a for-profit enterprise.

Masquerading or disguising their agenda as school choice, these individuals see all monies as a for-profit opportunity while caring little for the welfare of our nation’s youth or the economic concepts of “public good” or “multiplier effect.”

Because public schools must educate by mainstreaming all students of age living in their district, public schools encounter on the daily basis the consequences of for-profit corporate pursuits of cheap immigrant labor who often possess little previous educational experience, learning disabilities of children born of substance abusing parents, broken marriages, students with varying degrees of mental and physical disabilities or students who have survived ethnic cleansing in their homeland.

Do “for profit” or “private schools” encounter the same barriers to education?

Public-school condemners, where were Jonas Salk, Clayton Anderson and Warren Buffett educated? For additional education, why are foreign countries sending their high-achieving students to the U.S.?

Where were many of the world’s physicists, chemists, accountants, educators and medical researchers educated?

Alvin Guenther, Dunbar, Neb.

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