Readers comments 12-8-16
Shoes to fill in Claremont
Growing up in Claremont, I have been called lots. When I was a young architect in Claremont, some of my proudest moments were when I was called “Frank” after my great-grandfather, Frank Wheeler.
I was called this by Stan Larson, owner and editor of the Claremont COURIER. Frank Wheeler’s real estate and insurance office was around the corner (west of the bike shop) from the old College Press office, which also housed the COURIER.
Stan noted that Frank Wheeler would come in and comment on who was doing what they shouldn’t—affairs?—insisting that it should be in the paper. Stan always said, “I couldn’t print that!” but he also said?Frank always had it right.
In his later years, Stan also mistakenly called me Stuart, after my grandfather Stuart Wheeler. But being called Paul is an everyday event, as I was named after my other grandfather, Paul Naftel. Other people have called me Roger after my father, Roger Wheeler. It is both tough and easy to walk in another man’s shoes.
I moved into my parents house 10 years ago, which was previously occupied (and built) by my grandfather and grandmother Naftel with contractor Coldwell. When a family member vacated the house, furniture was left and even Old Spice and English Leather aftershave was left behind in the medicine cabinet; it was used by yours truly.
This takes me back to the notion of “shoes to fill.” My father wore a size 11 shoe. When he moved to the Gardens, a bunch of his shoes were left behind. I still wear them on occasion. My brothers recently gave me a heck of a ribbing for wearing my dad’s old leather topsiders loafers, but there’s still some life left in them, and with pride I wore them.
Here in California, a greeting when you see someone who has recently lost a loved one is “I am sorry for your loss.” In Scotland, where they are known for being very close, the response to hearing of someone’s death is “and did you happen to hear what size shoe he wore?” I proudly have a size 10-and-a-half, and I am still trying to fill my father’s shoes.
We expect the city commissions to have the information and authority needed to make honest and transparent decisions that are in the best interests of the community. After all, that is the point of having commissions. This expectation wasn’t met for the Pomona College Master Plan.
When the planning commission raised concerns about the design for the museum, they were told not to worry because the design was only “conceptual” and the architectural commission (AC) would have the ability to make substantive changes.
The planning commission did not approve the plan and neither then did the city council until an ancient loophole in our city code was unearthed that allowed our standards to be lowered.
This very same “conceptual” design for the museum then went to the architectural commission and, far from being told that they could require a better or new design, the commission was convinced that, because the council had approved the master plan, only minor changes could be made.
The comments that the AC did make were mostly ignored or rationalized away by the college and its architect. The college was in essence rewarded for digging in its heels, and we let them do it.
The planning commission also expressed concern about how Renwick House and its gardens would fit in the proposed location and were told not to worry because the AC would sort that out. Guess what? Last week, the AC was told that the new position was already locked in and, rather than discuss better alternatives, they approved it.
So one commission was told that they didn’t need to worry because another commission would be able to take care of any problems, and the second commission was told that it couldn’t make any big changes because the plan had been approved. Anyone see a problem here?
Pomona College benefited from this lack of clarity in the roles and powers of the commissions, but the community did not. We need to fix this confusion before the next major project appears.
Congratulations to the Village Marketing Group for conducting a successful Giving Tuesday on November 29 in Claremont!
This effort highlighted deserving Claremont organizations through the generosity of Village merchants.
We were so pleased to be sponsored by Heirloom and their gracious staff! The merchants and the Village Marketing Group should be proud of their contribution to our community!
Claremont Film Festival
One of the out-of-the-blue thoughts by our next president was that anyone in the country who burned the US flag ought to be jailed or deprived of citizenship. No doubt he did so thinking that that is true Americanism.
We need to remind ourselves that not only is politically-inspired flag-burning constitutionally protected speech but of what the great columnist and commentator Molly Ivins wrote, “I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in The Constitution over someone who burns The Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag.”
Letter of support
[Editor’s note:?The following letter was addressed to the Islamic Center of Claremont, with a copy forwarded to the COURIER for publication. —KD]
To the Islamic Center of Claremont:
We, the Amnesty International chapter of Claremont McKenna College, formally and publicly express our support for your center. We were deeply devastated and disturbed by the threatening letter recently sent to the Center. As a student-led initiative working for human rights and social justice, we are outraged to read about the blatant and offensive vitriol and aggression against the Islamic Center of Claremont and the mistreatment and discrimination faced by Muslim-Americans in our country.
It deeply saddens us to know that our Muslim brothers and sisters are suffering at the hands of racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and threats of genocide.
No human being should have to endure or tolerate discrimination based on his or her skin color, gender, sexual orientation, religion, political beliefs or personal identities. Every act of racism or discrimination is not only an act of violence but it is also an attack upon our shared dignity.
Every human being is endowed with inalienable rights outlined in the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 22 states “Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization…of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.”
We, as human rights activists, wholeheartedly and undoubtedly agree. To attack the dignity of another human being is to make an attack upon their humanity, an act that dehumanizes; such are actions which have proven to incite unspeakable acts of violence. Dehumanization is the most dangerous and active threat to humanity today.
Amnesty International’s founder Peter Benenson once said, “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” We, as devout followers of Amnesty, seek to shine a light on the acts of injustice against Muslim Americans and individuals of other marginalized identities.
We as a society cannot remain silent in the face of injustice. We cannot sit idly by as our fellow Americans are being targeted, attacked and persecuted for their religious beliefs. Each and every American must be held accountable for his or her actions and must seek to make our country a more inclusive, respectful and compassionate nation welcoming to everyone.
We seek to use the Amnesty logo, a candle wrapped in barbed wire, as a symbol of hope to encourage each and every resident of Claremont and student and faculty member of the Claremont University Consortium to stay engaged in the fight against ignorance, racism and Islamophobia. Do not let the flame extinguish. As long as just one person seeks to shine a light on injustice, the flame cannot and will never vanish. As such, we demand the fair and equal treatment of every Muslim-American both within and outside of the Claremont community.
Every human being has the right to feel safe and secure, and free from the threat of violence because of their religion or identity.
We light a candle for every individual who has ever felt marginalized due to their religion. We light a candle for every victim of hate speech, threats of violence and heinous acts of racism.
We light a candle for every individual who has had to question or feel ashamed of their identity. We light a candle for every individual who has felt threatened or endangered by acts of physical or emotional violence due to their identities.
We light a candle for every person who has been discriminated against based on their race, color, gender, sexual orientation, religion or personal identity.
To the Islamic Center of Claremont: we, the students of the Amnesty International chapter of Claremont McKenna College, support you. We thank you for your courage to fight for your rights as human beings. We are inspired by your strength, commitment, and dedication to human rights and to stand up in the face of injustice, discrimination and unspeakable threats of violence.
Consider us your allies and know that you are not alone. We will continue to shine a light on the injustices occurring in our shared community.
The Amnesty International Chapter of Claremont McKenna College
In collaboration with J-Street,
3C InterVarsity Christian Fellowship,
Claremont Progressive Israel Alliance,
and Hillel at the Claremont Colleges