Readers Respond to the October 2020 Issue

Your feedback on anti-Semitic sculptures, the spotted lanternfly and cowboy poetry

History of Hatred

As I read “Hatred in Plain Sight,” about the anti-Semitic sculpture in Germany, I was reminded of the removal of Confederate flags from certain public places in America. Seeing that flag reminds black people of the horrors their ancestors endured as slaves, and it insults them. When I think of Sophie Scholl, Anne Frank and the millions of people the Nazis slaughtered during World War II, I empathize with the Jewish people in the German city where the sculpture is attached to a Protestant church. Surely this piece of filth should be destroyed immediately.

—Julia Horigan | Tallahassee, Florida

As a Jew, a Holocaust survivor and a German citizen, my vote goes to save the Judensau sculptures along with signage that cries out, “Never forget.” Just as we save “Arbeit Macht Frei” memorials at Dachau and Auschwitz, we should save reminders of atrocities all the way back to the Crusades. Yes, within reason, we must even save swastika memorials. The scholars who argue that monuments reflect the values of the time are correct. Let us expose the values of the past to ensure they do not become the values of the future. “Never again” relies on us to never forget.

—Fred Amram | Minneapolis

Swarm of the Lanternfly

I cry every time I see an article about another invasive species (“It Is Here. And It Is Hungry”). Dutch elm disease, kudzu, Asian silver carp in the Mississippi, non-native grasses in the Sonoran Desert, emerald ash borer, pythons in the Everglades. How we have abused our beautiful land!

—Tom Balph | Mesa, Arizona

Poet on the Prairie

I’m a 92-year-old ex-cowboy from Nebraska, and I became acquainted with the Badger (“The Cowboy Poet”) about 80 years ago when he appeared at a youth camp. He gave me a few poetry tips, including “Your poetry is best if it captures the rhythm of horses’ hoofs.” I was so enthused I wrote my first cowboy poem, which won a prize at the Blaine County Fair.

—Clark Crouch | Woodinville, Washington

Motorcycle Mindfulness

Like the book itself, “The Zen Machine” draws the distinction between those persons who wish to get away from reality, including technology, but remain dependent on what they seek to escape, and those who remain engaged with reality while experiencing freedom gained through awareness and detachment.

—Chuck Craven | Richmond Hill, Georgia

The Sound of Silence

Sitting in my backyard hearing the battle of the crickets, frogs, grasshoppers and the mad motorcyclist in the next block made reading “The Last Quiet Places” all the more poignant. Fortunately, the motorcyclist revved away and left only the “noise” of tree frogs and the calming sound of the pages of a great magazine turning softly.

—Sarah Serdin | Mount Prospect, Illinois

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This article is a selection from the November issue of Smithsonian magazine