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Letters to the Editor, Week of Jan. 18, 2023


Although I have long known about the profound injustice inflicted on WWU founding figure Charles Fisher by the scoundrel newspaperman Frank Sefrit in 1939, reading the excellent piece on this travesty (CDN, Jan. 11, 2023) reminded me of this sad chapter in our history. I, for one, think that it’s time to rename Mount Sefrit. Mount Fisher has a much better ring to it.

John D’Onofrio



Thank you, thank you for the expose by Ron Judd on Jan. 11 of the shameful firing of a good man — WWU President Charles Fisher  — following several years of malicious slander against him by the red-baiting Bellingham Herald under its shameful editor Frank Sefrit. 

Sadly, this reminds us of the time when Whatcom County had a robust Ku Klux Klan. 

Abe Jacobson



Reading your story about The Bellingham Herald’s role in right-wing led character assassination of Western’s first president, I was reminded of a similar right-wing campaign in the early 1990s to destroy the reputation of Sherilyn Wells, a candidate for Whatcom County Council, and later, president of Washington Environmental Council. Like his predecessor who ruined Fisher’s career, Bellingham Herald publisher J.C. Hickman promoted criminals and thugs (from the building and real estate industries) while demeaning Wells. 

Jay Taber



Thank you for the story about county postal mail system delays, published in the Jan. 4 issue of your NEWSpaper, which I received by mail today, Jan. 12. That’s almost a week earlier than I received your last issue — so room for hope.

Mike Hiestand



To all of you who work for this great publication, thank you for giving our community such great news coverage. Since we moved to B’ham in 1980, I have never experienced such consistent high-quality news, both local and beyond our county. There is also an impressive effort to give space to folks who have opposing viewpoints on various issues, and I appreciate the professional tone of your criticism of local officials when you deem it is necessary. (Cases in point: your recent condemnation of the B’ham School District for allowing sexual harassment of a high school student to go unmentioned and as undercover as possible, and this week’s article about Charles Fisher and a call for the WWU Board of Trustees to issue an apology for his treatment.) Finally, we have local journalism we can be proud of!

Just a few minor suggestions for improvement.

1) I agree with letter writer Richard Fulton that it is past time you include the sports teams of Whatcom Community College in your multi-page sports coverage. WCC’s soccer team is international (thanks to the school’s excellent International Program) and they also have a formidable basketball team.

2) Whereas I was impressed with your expansive It’s Time to Vote! categories, I was disappointed that there is a category called “Asian Restaurants.” Bellingham has a plethora of Vietnamese, Thai and Japanese/Korean (not so many of each of these) restaurants, and perhaps one remaining Chinese, so why not separate them? You do list Indian (arguably Southeast Asian) as a separate category but all of the others fall into one pot, and we are forced to choose one of the 20 very different types of cuisine listed. You do not group Greek, Italian, German and French restaurants as “European” (while we have VERY few of the latter two types). Could you please remedy this bias next year?

Thank you, and keep up your excellent work!

Courtenay Chadwell-Gatz



On Jan. 24 the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists will announce the 2023 Doomsday Clock. This has been a tradition every year since 1947 to gauge the perilousness of the planet when it comes to nuclear weapons. In the past few years, the Bulletin has also included the other existential threat to human and habitat existence, climate change. In 2022 the clock was 100 minutes to midnight. We in the Pacific Northwest need to remember that the third largest number of deployed nuclear weapons in the world is at the Submarine Base at Bangor [Kitsap County]. An attack or nuclear accident would have devastating effects on our state, killing and harming thousands if not millions of people.

The year 2022 was fraught with dangerous nuclear episodes although climate change has certainly been wreaking havoc with the planet of late. 

The United States and Russia have the majority of nuclear weapons. There are approximately 12,720 worldwide; 9,868 are non-deployed. Dismantling non-deployed warheads will not affect nuclear readiness but will demonstrate intent to reduce tensions and risk. We can do this! START i.e., Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, 1994, and the 1970 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons got us on our way.

During the Reagan administration, along with the Soviet Union’s Mikhail Gorbachev, a lot of progress was made. In 1986, there were over 70,000 nuclear bombs. Now the total number of warheads have started to creep up with the U.S. modernization program. The Chinese have also begun building more warheads. The point is, with negotiation and verification we can begin to bring the number of weapons down and hopefully, one day, abolish them. Jan. 22 is the second anniversary of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, ratified by 68 countries. 

Let’s urge the United States to do the same.  

Cindy Ann Cole



Re: “Whatcom County students feel social media’s mental health effects” AND “Cries for help pour into 988 mental health, suicide line,” Jan. 11

There remains platitudinous lip service by society in general, including police services, when it comes to proactive mental illness prevention as well as treatment. Various mainstream news and social media will state the obvious, that society must open up its collective minds and common dialogue when it comes to far more progressively addressing the challenge of more fruitfully treating and preventing such illness in general.

But they will typically fail to address the problem of ill men, or even boys, refusing to open up and/or ask for help due to their fear of being perceived by peers, etcetera, as weak/non-masculine. The social ramifications exist all around us; indeed, it is endured, however silently, by males of/with whom we are aware/familiar or to whom so many of us are closely related.

Even today, there remains a mentality, albeit perhaps a subconscious one: Men can take care of themselves, and boys often are basically little men. Even Ms. Jackson Nakazawa’s own book, “Childhood Disrupted,” was only able to include one man among its six interviewed adult subjects, there presumably being such a small pool of adverse childhood experience (ACE)-traumatized men willing to formally tell his own story of childhood abuse. 

One must ask: Is it yet more (in a societal pile of) evidence of a continuing subtle societal take-it-like-a-man mindset, one in which so many men will choose to abstain from “complaining” about their torturous youth, as that is what “real men” do?  

One also sees some of that mentality reflected in, for example, a New York Times feature story (“She Was a Big Hit on TikTok. Then a Fan Showed Up With a Gun,” Feb. 19, 2022). Written by Times reporter Elizabeth Williamson, the piece at one point states that “Instagram, owned by Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has … been accused of causing mental and emotional health problems among teenage female users.”   

The fact is, mental and emotional — along with physical — health problems are being suffered by teenage boys directly due to social media use. Revelatory of the latter is the increasing incidence of social media-focused obsession among boys with gaining significant muscle mass, aka “bigorexia.” 

Frank Sterle Jr.    

White Rock, British Columbia


Likely the biggest lost opportunity in ’22, was our inability to connect-the-dots into saying what “AI” truly means personally and ecologically for all of us.  

How can we play with AI … and not get played? Is AI really useful for humans and non-quantum machines? In an antique context, is AI kind of like a supercar only used for supermarket shopping, or maybe the killer drone you don’t see coming?  

Then maybe reflect on what happens, when quantum machines learn they’re connecting the dots? Get the Supreme Court to grant AI person status, so it can be like a corporate person, too? So glad I’m old and will die soon.

John C. Ruth


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