Letters, Letters to the Editor, Opinion

Oct. 29 letters to the editor

To Mooney, knowing history is ‘woke’

I read with interest Rep. Alex Mooney’s Oct. 22 response to a Dominion Post editorial criticizing him for voting against a bill to keep the government running.

He began by explaining why he voted “no” to the stopgap bill, which, I agree, is not a way to run government. But then he went into a diatribe against Biden and Democrats for their irresponsible spending. As he is a Republican, that sounds like the pot calling the kettle black, which leads me to his comments about “woke” liberal policies.

Fox news and some Republicans use this term, but its meaning is often unclear. According to Damariyé L. Smith, Ph.D, assistant professor of contemporary Black/African American rhetoric and media studies at San Diego State University, the term “woke” originated in Black American vernacular and is just another way to say critical thinking. It means having consciousness about the systems we live in and how they can produce unequal outcomes. But Mooney and others use the term as a bad thing.

No one living today uses slaves, but slavery did exist as part of our history. No one living today drove the indigenous tribes out of their land and placed them in reservations. But it is also part of our history, and one example of our past is evidenced in the movie “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

Those of us living today did not do these things, but all should know they occurred. So the conservative Republicans, like Mooney, are trying to say “woke” is bad and students should not learn about these aspects of our history.

On the contrary, as Cicero said many years ago, “To be ignorant about what occurred before you were born is to remain perpetually a child. For what is the worth of a human life unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?”

History has lessons to tell us if we remain “awake.”

Charles L. Harris

Mock council a great opportunity for students

I was delighted to read the article about the mock city council initiative generated by Deputy Mayor Joe Abu-Ghannam with the full support of other Morgantown City Council members. What a special experience for all involved!

I had a similar experience when I was in junior high school and living in a small city near the Catskill Mountains back in the 1940s. The major difference from the Morgantown event was that there were two political parties for the candidates: the People’s Party and the Citizen’s Party. The candidates had to figure out what they wanted the platform for each party to be. Most platform planks ended up being virtually the same.

The students volunteered or were recruited by other students to be candidates in the parties. Then after a couple weeks or more, there was a school-wide election involving ballots, and the successful candidates went to the city hall for the mock meeting and an opportunity to meet some of the city officials in person. I was a candidate in the Citizen’s Party and most of that party’s candidates were successful in my second year.

I do not remember much about the meeting itself, but I will never forget the process and some of the new friendships that I made by participating in the experience. The social studies teachers at the different grade levels helped students debrief the experience. It was one of the most important educational experiences during that period of my life.

Learning by doing is often so powerful. It is great that the Morgantown High School students have had this experience in governance. Even many who did not participate as office holders will benefit. I hope that the program will be continued.

Don Spencer