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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor: Sept. 8, 2022

What on earth?

To the Editor:

As a follow-up to my letter of August 18 regarding the theft of my yard sign, which said: “Hey, Congress Ban all semi-automatic handguns and rifles now!” I am sorry to report that while I planted two more copies of the sign, all were stolen in 24 to 72 hours. I am now planting my last one.

Perhaps more to the point is the Sept. 1 Reporter story about guns documenting the 11 assault rifles and 82 handguns registered on Shelter Island. I would ask the assault rifle owners: “What on earth will these battlefield weapons of war be used for on Shelter Island? Hunting Bambi? Or Peter Rabbit?” If so, you need to have your eyesight and/or marksmanship tested.

As to the handgun owners, who presumably agree with the NRA about the need for home protection in a “high crime” area like Shelter Island, I would cite the data.

Multiple studies show that having a handgun in the home is 12 to 33 times more likely to kill or injure a family member or friend (suicide, domestic homicide or accident) than an intruder.

As said previously, I am a decorated veteran who once earned a marksman’s medal and am a physician who worked at a level 1 trauma hospital in Chicago for years. I know much too much about guns and how they work and what they do, killing people, families and communities.

JIM WEBSTER, M.D., Shelter Island

Every living creature

To the Editor:

I was very disturbed when I read in the Shelter Island Reporter that the Deer and Tick Committee are planning a program to teach our young students to kill with bowhunting training.

With the school shootings that are going on in our country today, I find it hard to believe that anyone would think of starting such a program. I know the argument would be that archery is a sport, but the thought behind it in this case is to kill.

You can be sure that the young mind will catch on to this thought right away, and every time they hit the bull’s eye they will think they have made a kill. Have we forgotten the Commandment, “To love your neighbor as yourself,” and to care for every living creature?

This is the thought that needs to be projected most in the world today, if we wish to experience a harmonious existence.


Make the call

To the Editor:

As a 91-year-old resident of Shelter Island with limited vision, I am blessed to be the recipient of the services of the Senior Center.

Among other things, they have provided drivers for me to various doctors on- and off-Island. My drivers are charming, friendly and concerned for my safety every step of the way. It is as if a close family member is at my side.

Unfortunately, the Center is in desperate need of volunteers. At this time, help is needed delivering meals and visiting the elderly and/or making phone calls and driving them to appointments.

As a fortunate recipient of these services, I urge my fellow Shelter Islanders to take this call for help to heart. Call 631-749-1059.

LEAH FRIEDMAN, Shelter Island

Seeking dialogue

To the Editor:

With Lincoln’s election victory, Gen. William Sherman, living in Louisiana, planned to return to Washington. Following the Mexican War, he presided over a military academy in Louisiana.

At a farewell dinner party, a woman at his table confided to Sherman, “I am concerned because my husband is not on good terms with the president.” Sherman, who knew Lincoln well, innocently replied, “I did not know he knew Mr. Lincoln.” Embarrassed, she answered, “I do so apologize. I did not mean your president, but our president, Mr. Davis.”

Is this really where we are? And if so, can we solve the problem by ignoring it? That was the model the North adopted in the 1850s. It did not work then, and it will not work now. The North was shocked and completely unprepared when the South brought war — a Civil War that cost more lives than all the other U.S. wars combined.

What separates us is differences in the vision we have of America. The answer is better listening and dialogue among us — to people at the Islander, in the Pharmacy, or anywhere around town — not to change minds, but to build respect for opposing views, to listen and exchange ideas.

I need the help of a few sincere people, regardless of your politics to organize this model. Contact me, Richard Denning, Center Post Office, C-568. Phone 631-749-1535.

I have almost 50 years on Shelter Island. I know it is the perfect place to strike this spark.


An explicit policy goal

To the Editor:

According to the 2020 census, the percentage of Shelter Island’s population who are African-American is essentially 0%. Yet, despite the sordid history of enslavement of African-Americans on Shelter Island, increasing racial diversity has not been included as a goal by the Community Housing Board (CHB).

It is not mentioned in their survey results nor in their latest report. If we are to have a true “community” housing plan, then addressing historical racial injustice in housing must be a primary goal.

The wealth of Shelter Island was primarily built by eradicating the native Manhansetts from their ancestral land after it was purchased by Nathaniel Sylvester, who then built his wealth using the forced labor of African-American slaves to support the barbaric Anglo-Dutch sugar trade. The serene name “Sylvester Manor” is a whitewash of the horrid history of this slave plantation where the fundamental evil of slavery was perpetuated for almost two centuries.

But racial discrimination on Shelter Island did not end when slavery ended. It is not a matter of random chance that the population percentage of African-Americans here is 0% when the national average is 12.4%.

Black Americans have been legally and illegally discriminated against in housing for as long as there has been an America. The damage done by these policies and practices will not be undone by ignoring this history or pretending now to be “race neutral.”

If Shelter Island is going to implement a true “community” housing plan, then the CHB and Town Board should include increasing racial diversity as an explicit and measurable policy goal of that plan, and hire experienced outside counsel to learn the best practices for achieving that goal.

GEORGE HUHN, Shelter Island

Market report

To the Editor:

Labor Day weekend marked the end of the highly successful season for the Havens Market sponsored by the Shelter Island Historical Society.

Every Saturday throughout the summer, an average 750-800 people enjoyed shopping for fresh produce and original craft items. The market’s success was the result of a cooperative effort by many people: the 28 vendors who brought their wares to the market each week; the dozens of volunteers who managed the parking and logistics; our very capable market coordinators, Lynne Colligan and Peter Miedma; and the thousands of local residents and summer visitors who supported the market.

The market could not have happened without the support of Supervisor Gerry Siller, the Town Board, and the Shelter Island Police Department who made the parking lot available.

Havens Market is just one of many programs and activities sponsored by the Historical Society. See you next summer for our 13th Havens Market.

NANETTE LAWRENSON, Executive Director, Shelter Island Historical Society