Use ARPA Funds for Test Kits
To the editor:
Neither President Biden’s 500 million home test kits nor Gov. Baker’s gift of test kits to four Cape Cod towns (Barnstable, Dennis, Eastham, and Orleans) that meet low-income requirements will help all Barnstable County residents. That includes full-time residents, many of them elderly; part-timers; workers who commute; and essential workers who are undocumented and whose children attend public schools here.
We have an urgent need for rapid Covid home test kits. If we are going to follow CDC recommendations for mitigating the spread of a highly infectious variant we must test ourselves regularly and frequently. Otherwise, many of us will unknowingly continue to be spreaders as we go about our daily lives.
It is impossible to regularly test yourself if there are no rapid test kits available. Given how many people remain unvaccinated and unmasked, free test kits must be made available in as many convenient public places as possible.
We need action right now. Barnstable County should use our ARPA funds to provide an ample supply of free test kits to pick up at schools, libraries, police and fire stations, supermarkets, shops, and community centers. At the same time, the county should create multiple ways to educate people regarding all aspects of Covid prevention (vaccination, masks, testing).
In its current state, the public health system can neither meet the challenges of these Covid times nor address the future public health needs of the county’s residents.
Elaine J. Baskin
The writer is a member of the Cape Cod Coalition for Universal Health Care.
An Antidote for Apathy
To the editor:
I assure you that Indivisible does engage in daily, year-round action in addition to visibility events like the Jan. 6 vigil for democracy [Letter From the Editor, Jan. 6]. They are just one of many tools we use to motivate an otherwise exhausted and apathetic public to do more.
For the record, more than 100 attended the Orleans rotary rally, at which post cards were written and phone calls were made to senators and the president. Participants also left with a toolkit of more actions, such as joining a phone bank to entreat voters in West Virginia to call Sen. Manchin.
While we likely did not change the minds of the three motorists who shouted obscenities at us, perhaps we reassured the hundreds who happily honked and waved that they are not alone. Perhaps they will speak up to friends or family, or find the five minutes it takes to send messages to senators.
The ultimate goal of groups like Indivisible is to empower citizens and encourage them to engage with elected officials. Unfortunately, partly because of media coverage, many feel hopeless and turn away in despair. The antidote is action, and there are many actions to take right now to help avert a Republican takeover of Congress this year.
Centering the efforts of activists in your news coverage, instead of just when we put on a show, might go a long way to correcting the damage done to democracy and help more people find the courage to act.
Hidden History of Belvernon
To the editor:
I enjoy reading the Independent each week for the hidden local history often revealed in its great articles. In this spirit, I eagerly read the article on Wellfleet’s Belvernon by Christine Legere [Jan. 6, page B7], as it’s a house I’ve admired and wondered about.
I’m left filled with questions, however, as to the origins of this house and the source of the wealth that made its construction possible. The article simply reports that a family plantation in Jamaica provided the resources for Belvernon to be built. What is the true legacy of this beautiful house and what might we learn about the legacy of fortunes made from slavery and the race-based economy that followed as we consider this house and its history?
These questions seem worthy of mention as much as the architectural details so carefully and lovingly described in the article. There is more to remember and to know about this house than just the lovely times that were had in it.
Religious and Secular Zionists
To the editor:
I take exception to Cathy Corman’s statement that writer Dara Horn does not “consider the origins of Zionism, with roots in socialist utopianism rather than liturgical practice” [book review, Jan. 6, page B4]. This ignores both Jewish history and religion.
Zionism has roots in socialism and millennia of connection to the land. Despite two diasporas, repeated destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, crusades, inquisitions, forced conversions, blood libels, pogroms, and the Holocaust, the land of Israel has always been at the core of Judaism.
Three times a day for millennia, Jews worldwide have turned towards Jerusalem to pray, hoping for a return to Israel and Jerusalem. Jewish communities existed all across Palestine for centuries, from Saphed to Hebron and Jerusalem.
Even after Theodor Herzl created Zionism, it was not merely a “socialist utopian” movement. Zionist Congress meetings were a cauldron of competing movements working towards a common goal, including major factions of religious Zionists. Even secular Zionists accepted the core connection of traditional liturgy to the ancient land of Israel. Secularists felt that in order to be accepted in the “enlightened” world, religious Jews needed to shed their religious beliefs and customs and become like other nation states. History has shown that, no matter how much of their faith Jews abandon, Jews are still identified as “other.”
As a descendant of supporters of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the founder of the Revisionist Zionist movement, I know personally of the strong connection between religious Zionists and Jabotinsky, a secularist. When my religious Zionist family emigrated from Russia to Austria in 1921, their first stop was at the grave of Herzl, the ultimate secular Zionist.
The Zionist movement stands on a foundation of thousands of years of religious practice. To deny the liturgical basis of the modern Zionist movement is to deny history.
Mr. Brown’s Nickname
To the editor:
Dennis Minsky’s delightful article on Provincetown nicknames [Jan. 6, page A3] and his mention of Harry Kemp’s Rhymes of Provincetown Nicknames, published in 1954, stirred some memories.
When Kemp asked my father if he had a nickname, my father archly replied, “Yes. It is Mr. Brown,” and thus he is mentioned in Kemp’s pamphlet.
“Phat” Francis, another example, was an occasional visitor in our home in the ’40s. Yes, he certainly was “phat.” I suspect the spelling was meant to lend some dignity to the nickname.
Harry Kemp himself could often be found at the Old Colony or roaming the streets of Provincetown, frequently drunk. He was often in the forefront of celebrations honoring the landing of the Pilgrims at the West End breakwater, dressed in Pilgrim attire and with a small following similarly garbed. There must be some photos in the Provincetown Advocate archives.
Kemp was looked after in his final years by Sunny Tasha, who dutifully scattered his ashes according to his wishes, half at the dune shack where Harry had lived, and half in the streets of Greenwich Village.
Loved in New York
To the editor:
As the New Year dawns upon us, I would like to thank all of the people on the Outer Cape who have made my yearly vacation trip with my family so enjoyable.
First, to all of the wonderful owners who have rented their beautiful homes to us. I am sorry for the midnight phone calls when we couldn’t figure out the air conditioning, the heat, the shower, and the noises coming from the basement.
Thank you to the Eastham Police Dept. for assuring us that, as long as we did not bother the coyotes at midnight, they likely would not bother us.
Thank you to the park rangers who explained how to make a bonfire on the beach. I would still be out there many months later trying to get the fire started without their help.
Thank you to all the restaurant owners who stayed open despite the pandemic and all those who let our 16-year-old dog dine outside with us.
Lastly, thank you to the Provincetown Independent for keeping me informed and reminding me why I love the Cape each and every week.