To the editor:

We, the regular people who live in our communities, are being manipulated. At least it is fair to say that some people are spending large amounts of time and money trying to manipulate us. They are pushing hard to divide us; to promote fear and even hatred.

They want us to believe that teaching U.S. history or making voting accessible to all who qualify are dangerous activities. They even say that Christmas is under assault and that everyone who disagrees with them must hate America. They want to stoke these fires for their own power and profit. They want our votes and our money.

I am an older white guy. I have been a teacher in different settings for many years, with young people and with adults.

In many of those situations, in classrooms, workshops and with small groups, I have tried to understand the prejudices that get aimed at people who live in Appalachia. I have learned about other kinds of discrimination as well. I have struggled to understand and to help others understand racism and its effects. We, people of many races, ages, and backgrounds, have shared our stories and listened to the stories of others. We have found an enormous store of hope and connections there.

We have learned that we don’t need to be afraid of each other and we don’t need to be afraid of our history. It is time to come together as citizens of this wonderful country. We have an opportunity to create a more perfect union, built on the principle that all people are created equal. It is time to refuse to be manipulated.

John Schmieding

Athens, Ohio

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