LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Unequal opportunities have been constant through history

I sympathize with Mr. George Roof’s ill feeling about how he was disrespected by his English teacher. [“All men (and women) are truly created equal,” Letters to the Editor, Dec. 12] There are many thousands of former and current students who have encountered such treatment, including myself.

Fortunately, I had some teachers who encouraged differing opinions, but only with supporting facts. Therefore, during my teaching career, I took great care to encourage my students to learn to think critically for themselves.

While the biology of a person’s creation (conception to birth) is virtually the same for all humans, we are not born “equal” because each of us is born with different talents, abilities, disabilities — both physical and learning, as well as different physical characteristics.

However, the opportunities we are afforded or denied as we mature have a direct effect upon whether we flourish or we suffer. Very often, the color of our skin, which evolved through ancient migrations, our birthplace, the shape of our eyes, our religious beliefs, our gender (identity) or our spoken language cause those in power to falsely believe in their own superiority.

These self-proclaimed “superiors” maltreat “others,” acting out the attitudes of the words used to describe the rhetoric of this election. Xenophobia, homophobia, chauvinism, and racism were “… created adjectives …” derived from Greek, Latin, French and German to describe certain behavioral characteristics. During the campaign, we also heard expressions of religious intolerance. This is neither confusion nor “gobbledygook.”

Mitochondrial DNA was first discovered in the 1960s and is passed on to offspring solely by the mother. In the mid-1980s, the concept of “mitochondrial Eve” was first proposed after analysis of the DNA of many diverse individuals. 1987 saw the first published mention of her in “Science” magazine. Since then, the DNA of many thousands of people from diverse regions of the planet has been analyzed, and each sample carries some small portions of “Eve’s” mitochondria.

This fact supports the concept of the Judeo-Christian and Muslim traditions of Adam and his companion, Eve, as the first modern humans from whom all humans are descended. Genetics (science) and these religions agree, that we are one human race: Homo sapiens.

Yes, since the ’60s and ’70s, there have been changes to words to make them more gender-neutral. However, the signers’ accepted phrase in the Declaration of Independence “… that all Men are created equal …” had a specific definition of who “men” were; the slaves owned by many of the signers were considered property, and many wives “knew their place.”

Our early government, with its Electoral College, allowed voting only by men of means, the landowners. The 13th Amendment to the Constitution in 1865 finally recognized African-Americans as human beings rather than property. Women finally gained the vote in 1920 with the 19th Amendment.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 legally eliminated the overt discrimination that prevented many from exercising their right to vote. While everyone is supposedly guaranteed this right, today, several states have cited “voter fraud” as a political reason to infringe upon this sacred right despite the Act of 1965.

Discrimination against “others” still exists, and women generally suffer wage inequity while performing as well as, or better than, men in identical positions.

Historical fact is evidence that prejudice continues to deny equality of respect and opportunity to many of this one human race in this 21st century.

Alan P. Gaddis

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