Commentary Series

Mon-Thurs 8:50 a.m. and 5:50 p.m. Sundays at 10:55 a.m.

More than 50 commentators provide perspective and opinion about current events, topics of interest, and often showcase the work of writers and storytellers. The VPR Commentary Series is produced by Betty Smith-Mastaler.

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Viewing the solar eclipse this week, I recalled how, in 1986, I looked skyward for Halley’s Comet, drawn to the rare, the cyclical, the stellar - as people are every seventy-five years when the comet comes around again. I was a high school English teacher. It was less than a week after Epiphany and the coldest day of the year.

In 1998, I was working in Atlanta – and took a trip to Stone Mountain, a confederate monument about a half-hour east of the city.

Most of my Vermont neighbors are concerned and well-meaning. And most can’t imagine that what happened in Charlottesville could ever happen here. But white supremacists have been in the Green Mountains for a very long time.

In April of 1968, as I was graduating from boarding school near Baltimore, the city went up in flames, as protesters raged over the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. I was only dimly aware of that turmoil.

Craven: Uncivil Wars

Aug 22, 2017

My Texas grandmother’s relatives fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. She remembered a time, as a kid, meeting an older second cousin who’d served as a water boy in the Texas Brigade. My grandfather fought in the trenches of France during World War I and family members of his had fought in the Maine Infantry of the Union Army.

The principle of free speech is again being debated in the streets, in op-ed columns, and between opposing ideologies. Although principles are often deemed absolute, their legal application is most often contextual … and therein lies the rub. The context often cited is that it’s illegal to yell “fire” in a crowded theater unless there’s a fire.

In his 1944 book Anti-Semite and Jew French Philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre wrote that we should “never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves," he concludes, "for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words.”

Beaupre: Racist Threat

Aug 18, 2017

The Klan is no longer hiding under cover of darkness. The group now includes women, and they go out in daylight uncovered to assert their right to believe in their supremacy over everyone else – leading me to wonder if we’re losing our hard-won progress toward inclusiveness and tolerance.

The white supremacist events in Charlottesville are terrifying, especially for African Americans, Latinxs, Asians, American Indians and all people of color.

Vermont Division for Historic Preservation

Our heroic Revolutionary War heritage sleeps quietly at Mount Independence. But the Mount, a point that thrusts north into Lake Champlain opposite Fort Ticonderoga, has important, dramatic stories to tell.

Members of Black Lives Matter have suggested that stemming the rising tide of racism in this country cannot be led by people of color. Ebony Nyoni, co-founder of the Vermont chapter of the organization said recently, “This isn’t our battle anymore; it’s yours and we can’t forgive you if you don’t ask for forgiveness.”

Twenty-three percent of deaths world-wide are directly or indirectly caused by outdoor and indoor air pollution, according to the World Health Organization. This sobering statistic is mobilizing much of the world to take action against the dire effects of climate change.

According to the New York Times, New Hampshire, where I live, is second only to West Virginia for the highest per capita rate of deaths from opioid addiction.

Vogel: Regulation Wisdom

Aug 15, 2017

In an ideal world, corporations would not need to be regulated. In fact, some companies, like Hypertherm, go far beyond what’s required. Hypertherm is well on its way to achieving its goal of sending zero materials to landfills from its 11 buildings in New Hampshire. But we don’t live in an ideal world, as the latest scandal from Wells Fargo Bank illustrates.

Midsummer 1785, and the new nation was drowning in a sea of debt, disorganization, and political and social division.

Catamount Arts

Here’s something you don’t see at every farmer’s market: a guy driving a steamroller over a piece of paper big enough to fill a parking space. The paper is laid over a piece of intricately carved wood or linoleum, which has been inked, and the result is a big, bold, beautiful print.

Like many, I wake up each morning and check online news sources for the latest read on the health of our nation. Like the addictive eater I am, I gobble up the latest ethical transgression, human rights abuse, crony favor, or governmental misbehavior. This menu of public service abuses sets the baseline for my thoughts, mood, and conversations for the day and I take satisfaction in thinking how right I am and how wrong so many of my fellow citizens are. It’s like scanning the country’s electronic medical record so I can keep up-to-date on its wellbeing.

There could hardly be any prettier place to die than the hilltop field on which the Battle of Hubbardton took place. The flowers of midsummer — red clover, and Queen Anne’s lace — were blooming there the day I visited, as they might have been the day of the battle. The rocky cliffs of Mount Zion rose a mile or so to the southwest, and farther off to the southeast, the blue Taconic Range shouldered into the summer sky.

This week as part of our Gunshots series, we asked Vermonters about the role of guns in their lives. Commentator Maggie Brown Cassidy had this to say.

This week as part of our Gunshots series, we asked Vermonters about the role of guns in their lives. Hannah Rommer grew up in Southern Vermont. Now, she's a music teacher and Orchestra conductor in Hanover, New Hampshire and reached out to us to share her story.

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