Letters to the Editor, March 8

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Immigrant song remains the same

EDITOR: The Sonoma Sister Cities Association recently held a Chinese New Year’s celebration at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards.

Happily, it honored the hundreds of Chinese who planted Sonoma Valley’s grapes, built its irrigation systems, dug its wine cellars and worked in the owners’ houses 150 years ago.

The Press Democrat reported it — but got the history wrong.

“Those forgotten workers . . . suffered from low pay, crowded living conditions, and bigotry,” it wrote, “before being pushed out by the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.” The bad conditions are true, but the 1882 act banned only new immigrants. The Chinese in Sonoma had been in California since the Gold Rush or had built the railroads.

What actually happened was infinitely more sad.

“There was a movement to forcibly remove all the Chinese from Sonoma by starving them out,” local historian Gordon Phillips told NPR in 2017. “Don’t hire, don’t patronize any shops that hire, Chinese.”

During that period a lot of Chinese left Sonoma, Phillips said. “They were chewing on weeds down by the riverbanks, things got so bad.”

Who plants the grapes, builds the irrigation systems, digs the wine cellars and works in the owners’ houses in Sonoma Valley today? Do they suffer from low pay, crowded living conditions, bigotry? Are the high rents starving them out?

Dave Ransom

Santa Rosa

Trump, a prisoner of own fears

EDITOR: Comparing the Michael Cohen testimony with that of Judge Brett Kavanaugh yields some interesting insights for all of us to consider.

With Kavanaugh we saw an individual in deep denial about his past shameful behavior and most Republicans questioning him were either defending him or on the defensive when questions were asked from the Democratic members in an effort to get to the truth. With Michael Cohen, we have someone who was willing to admit his wrongdoing and expose his shame (he must have said “I am ashamed...” at least five or six times) and here Republicans were relentless in their efforts to attach his credibility, his character and his testimony about the truth of Donald Trump.

It would be easy to say that these Republicans simply don’t want to know the truth, and there is truth in that statement. But let’s remember that whenever I point the finger at someone else, there are three fingers pointing back at me. To be willing to face the truth means I accept responsibility for my actions, and this very hard indeed. But even more difficult is the willingness to make deep and lasting change that takes my life in new a direction.

Michael Cohen has taken the first step by admitting his shame and that is how he is different from Donald Trump who is shameless and by his own admission never apologizes.

Michael Cohen will have three years in prison to contemplate and to hopefully embrace his shame enough to set his life on a new course.

Trump and his supporters are already in a prison of their own where their fear of change is so great that they need a wall to stop the intruders who cross the borders of their unconscious minds and are terrorized with those parts of themselves that they hate and do not yet know how to embrace and love.

Peter H. Coster


Trump even shutting down local kids field trips

Editor: As I write, the sun is shining and it is a beautiful day to be in Sonoma. That said, today I ought to be chaperoning a group of fifth-grade Sonoma students participating in the U.S. Forest Service’s “Winter Trek” – a conservation education program for young people which takes place at Heavenly Mountain Resort and consists of a free gondola ride and guided tour to teach young people about snowshoe skills and fire and forest ecology. The Forest Service was forced to cancel its program this year due to the disruption of our President’s government shut down from Dec. 22 to Jan. 25. What a tragically squandered opportunity for these 30 children, many of whom have never seen snow! The loss of this educational opportunity represents just one of the millions of small but meaningful casualties of Donald Trump’s decisions.

Annie Cassidy

Sonoma Valley

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