Bucks County Herald

Charles Meredith:

Rescinding an honorary degree

Dear Friends,

Good morning. Last week, Mighty Betsy slipped and fell requiring a trip to the St. Luke’s Quakertown Hospital and five stitches to her head. The resulting black and blue bruises are raising questions about spousal abuse. Fortunately nothing is broken.

The reason why I’m beginning today’s column this way is because of what I read in the Allentown Morning Call in the Emergency Room. The Call reported (Feb. 28) that Lehigh University’s faculty had voted 296 to 50 to ask the trustees to rescind the honorary degree from President Trump which Lehigh University conferred in 1988. Lehigh’s student senate passed a similar resolution with a 38 to 1 vote in support of the faculty’s decision.

“Lehigh’s faculty started its effort in January after it was revealed that Trump asked why the country had to accept immigrants from ‘sh—hole’ countries,” the Morning Call wrote. “The motion also listed a number of Trump’s statements: (1) His comments in the wake of the Charlottesville protest of white supremacists, that there were “very fine people on both sides,” (2) his now-infamous 2005 comments to Billy Bush of “Access Hollywood” about grabbing women’s genitals; (3) his call for a shutdown of Muslims entering the U.S. and (4) his encouragement of violence at campaign rallies.”

“By staying silent, we are bystanders,” the Lehigh faculty’s statement continued. “As a result, we normalize hate speech, condone discrimination and bullying; we enable people in positions of power to corrode the foundations of civil society; and we abdicate our commitment and responsibility to uphold and sustain our core values. Perhaps most important, what message do we send to students and staff and faculty about racist and sexist and disrespectful speech?

“This isn’t about whether you’re a Republican or you’re a Democrat. Those statements are sexist; they are racist; and they have this intention of demeaning and intimidating large sections of the population based on a demographic characteristic,” the faculty summarized. “That’s not what universities are about.”

Lehigh’s trustees were presented with petitions to rescind President Trump’s honorary degree twice before but decided not to take any action. Will they support the faculty and the student body now? Stay tuned.

On an entirely different subject, the Herald published a letter to the editor about gerrymandering written by Ardith Talbott of Solebury Township (Feb. 22). She reminded readers that the battle against gerrymandering will continue until the Pennsylvania Constitution is changed.

“We need to pass Senate Bill 22 and House Bill 722,” she wrote. It will take two separate legislative actions plus a statewide referendum to amend the state constitution. Both bills would create an independent citizens commission to abolish gerrymandering. The commission would be comprised of four members who are Republican, four members who are Democratic and three members unaffiliated with a minority party.

It won’t be easy to pass these two bills. The Democratic and Republican parties claim to support the effort but the reality is very different. Both parties silently support gerrymandering. The Republican Party quietly enjoys the advantage of 13 Republican congressional districts (against five Democratic congressional districts); in spite of the fact that there are more registered Democrats than Republicans. When the Democrats were in charge of drawing up congressional districts, they resorted to gerrymandering as well.

I believe the political scientists who insist that most legislators have a common goal: to remain in office.

That’s why they’re willing to draw legislative maps which skew the odds in their favor.

Am I cynical? You bet I am.

Sincerely, Charles Meredith

By the way, I attended a performance by three local community concert bands Feb. 25. The Red Hill Band (established in 1900), The Boyertown Alumni Marching Unit (formed in 1976) and the Quakertown Band (1877) wowed the crowd.

I particularly enjoyed hearing the national anthem. On the stage, next to the Red Hill Band’s conductor (Norman Stull), a bulldog dressed in a U.S. Marine Corps uniform waved his front paws in time with the music.

The auditorium of the Strayer Middle School in Quakertown was full … just as it should have been.

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