The Republican governor of Mississippi is promoting “Confederate History Month.” The fact that his proclamation makes no mention of slavery doesn’t mean “diddly,” in his words (Press Herald, April 12). He’s proud that his state celebrates Robert E. Lee’s birthday on the same date as Martin Luther King’s.

For those who think that might somehow diminish Dr. King’s legacy, Gov. Haley Barbour would probably say that doesn’t mean “diddly.”

A study of Confederate history should include the fact that Lee, Jefferson Davis and the Southern aristocracy planned and executed attacks on military and civilian facilities of the U.S. government.

They waged war on the U.S. military and attempted to overthrow our government. They caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of American soldiers and countless numbers of civilians. They laid waste to American property.

Compared with what they did, the works of Osama bin Laden and modern-day terrorists don’t amount to “diddly.” And why did they do it? In the words of George W. Bush, it was because “they hated freedom.”

All other high-sounding ideals for the South’s war fade away in light of the real reason: The war was about slavery. Fortunately, the good guys won, and slavery was abolished in this country.

For a Southern politician in this day and age to say that terrorists were heroes and that slavery was meaningless is a description of his intellectual and emotional capacity: It doesn’t amount to diddly.

Stephen D. Bither

Portland

Washington’s address could apply to Mideast

Patriots Day seems the proper time to quote words from George Washington’s Farewell Address: “Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people to surrender their interests.”

Because Israel clearly fits his description of “the favorite,” and because it has recently grabbed even more land that was meant for a Palestinian state, it didn’t just disturb but destroyed peace in the Mideast.

Marjorie Gallace

Camden

Constitution was visionary but it still needs updating

In a letter published April 9, Gerald F. Slack writes that the U.S. Constitution is “as applicable now as it was in the 18th century.” Really? And in the year 2110, will it be applicable then?

Our enlightened Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution in their time in history, not ours. They were pragmatic men of vision who understood that the world is a perilous, ever-changing place. Now, some 200-plus years later, we somehow don’t get it.

Times have changed. The state of the union is not good. We appear to be on the slippery slope, confused and headed who knows where. It doesn’t look good; many are angry. We need new, clear-headed thinking and a clear, new direction. The status quo is not an option.

Unlike us, other developed, democratic countries have updated their constitutions to adapt to changing times while retaining basic freedoms.

Such is the case with France, our oldest ally. Its original Constitution was written 1789, with, by the way, the participation of our own Tom Paine. The last overall, complete revision of their constitution took place in 1958.

Time is running out. One hopes that before too long the United States of America will have a new, updated, revised Constitution with language and laws in keeping with the 21st century — not the 18th.

Everything could be on the table for discussion, including the validity of a Supreme Court and a clear definition of religious freedom and the separation of church and state.

Lee Kemble

Portland

Kudos to Bishop Malone for having convictions

Regarding the Catholic Church’s rights to pull funding from Preble Street, I differ with Maine progressives who want nothing more than to try to shake up the Church and Bishop Malone in order to further their agenda.

It is my firm belief that the people at Preble Street behind the decision to outwardly support the No on 1 campaign are those responsible for taking away the funding to Preble Street. Clearly they knew what the outcome of their actions would be. Surely they read and understood the contract they entered into willingly. In fact, they made their decision to go public with their views on same-sex marriage knowing full well that it would mean losing funding from the diocese and U.S. Bishops Campaign for Human Development.

So who’s the bad guy here? They knew what the outcome would be and they chose to go ahead and roll the dice, figuring the Church wouldn’t dare.

I am proud of Bishop Malone for staying true to the Church’s’ convictions. Unlike so many things in this world, the Catholic Church does not change with societal pressures and in this world filled with chaos, hardship and pain, it’s comforting to know that some things remain consistent, true and strong.

For those of you so quick to cast doubt on the Church as being anything short of kind, loving and accepting to the core, I encourage you to revisit and become fully aware of all that the Catholic Church does here in Maine and across the world. The Catholic Church is the largest charitable organization on the planet, bringing relief and comfort to those in need.

Mary Conroy

North Yarmouth

Take Earth Day pledge and eat a plant-based diet

This week marked the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, when we pledge to conserve Earth’s natural resources for future generations. We already know about recycling, changing light bulbs, adjusting the thermostat and reducing our driving habits. This year, we can best observe Earth Day by switching to a plant-based diet.

A recent study in WorldWatch magazine found that production of meat and dairy products may account for fully half of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, such production contributes more pollutants to our water supplies than all other human activities combined. It is causing global shortages of drinking water. It is the driving force in global deforestation and wildlife habitat destruction.

So let’s celebrate by replacing meat and dairy products in our diet with healthful, eco-friendly foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts. Those opting for a more gradual transition will find ample soy and grain-based meat and dairy alternatives in your local supermarket. Additional information is available at www.greenyourdiet.org.

Paul Mahn

Portland