In Nation Under Duress, A Verb To Live By


In Nation Under Duress,

A Verb To Live By

Socially distanced appropriately, Cooperstown village trustees join Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch, center, at the Pride Flag, unfurled at 22 Main on Tuesday, June 1. From left are Joe Membrino, Richard Sternberg, Jeanne Dewey, MacGuire Benton, Jim Dean and Cindy Falk. (Jim Kevlin/

The verb, “to accept.”

The verb became action at 8:30 a.m. Monday, June 1, when Public Works Director Mitch Hotaling climbed a ladder and hung the Pride Flag on Cooperstown Village Hall.

When the Village Board, with some rancor, voted last July to fly the flag during Gay Pride Month, trustees couldn’t know how the verb, “to accept,” might resonate today after three months of pandemic and a week of riots.

To begin, let’s activate the verb to accept the people we know who are gay: beloved brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles and cousins, childhood friends.

And more: Let’s accept they should be honored, even celebrated. It’s time.

“We” sounds majoritarian. It is. It is time for the country at large to accept this minority, and be enriched by it, as the majority has accepted so many others over our 250-year history and continues to do today.

Let’s go further. Let’s accept that violence settles nothing.

Arguably, the 1967 burning of American cities ripped apart the Civil Rights coalition of the 1960s and set back the cause 20 years. Fury creates fury; it’s no win.

Let’s accept that militarizing American police forces after 9/11 – “civilians” is what officers call the rest of us – was a mistake from its beginning in the shadow of the burning Twin Towers. Let’s ramp it back.
Locally, we’ve seen the bad as we walked past armored cars and flak-jacketed officers en route to the Hall of Fame’s Induction.

And we’ve seen the good: Last Sunday, Oneonta Police Chief Doug Brenner assigned no officer when 500 people rallied peacefully for justice in Oneonta’s Muller Plaza. He trusted them.
Community policing, that’s called, a partnership between police and people.

Let’s accept it.

Yes, in the wake of George Floyd’s death, we’ve read how Minneapolis’ police union sheltered members from responsibility. Let’s accept reform is needed there, too.

Let’s accept that our nation’s vast wealth – the envy of the world – hasn’t been sufficiently shared.

Locally, Schenevus’ unified joy at the prospect of a 300-job distribution center dramatized the yearning for good jobs here, as in black neighborhoods like the one where George Floyd was killed.

In the Trump Administration’s peace plan for Israel and Palestine, multi-national companies agreed to build plants in Palestine, where unemployment is as high as 43 percent in Gaza. Why not in disadvantaged American neighborhoods?

Let’s accept that economic stability stabilizes families, and neighborhoods and communities. Stable communities require less policing, fewer opportunities
for the Officer Chauvins of the world to do their damage.

Let’s accept vibrant American capitalism as a font of opportunity and wealth, the modern outlet for ambition and the pioneering spirit. And tax it appropriately for the benefit of all.

Let’s accept that our Constitutional system generally works – or, as Churchill said, better than any other – and that the current administration happened because government had lost touch with its constituents.

If we don’t like the result, that can be allayed, perhaps as soon as Nov. 3 or no later than Nov. 5, 2024, and reforms made along the way.

Let’s accept the arc of history bends toward justice. The American story, flawed as any other nation’s,
proves it.

Amid all this, let’s accept flying the Pride Flag each June. Since we all have gay friends and relatives, it shouldn’t be divisive at all. Mayor Gary Herzig has said he doesn’t object to it in Oneonta – so, draft a resolution.

Let’s accept we may not fly enough flags: Philadelphia’s Ben Franklin Parkway is lined with 90, one for every nation that has contributed any significant number of today’s Philadelphians.

Let’s accept the American canon: freedom, justice, the right to pursue Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. For everyone. And let’s use verb, “to accept,” to advance it.

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