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As I See It:The essence of opinion

A recent letter writer accused me of irresponsible journalism for the content of my column concerning global climate change that was partially inspired by a Dilbert cartoon strip.

Notwithstanding the fact that I am anything but a journalist, I am always disappointed when someone is unwilling or unable to read and analyze the entire column.

In the past several months another letter writer has accused me of having racist views and other such sins because he is obviously fully invested in the popular narrative that the Civil War was, is and always has been 100 percent about slavery and the rich, white Southern men without consciences.

If the writer had received an education that included the economic, political and social issues underlying the growth of this country, he might have understood the vast range of differences between the North and the South that developed over the decades.

Admittedly, slavery was part of these differences, but states' rights versus the growing federalism were much more important in the southern people's minds of that time. It might be noted that it was a Yankee who invented the cotton gin - which in turn made cotton and slavery profitable. If not for the cotton gin, slavery might have died a natural death.

Are we including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and others in the group of "white men without consciences?" How do we account for President Lincoln, who admitted if he could preserve the union without ending slavery, he would have?

What about the African natives who willingly worked with the slave traders in kidnapping other blacks for the slave trade along with the English, Portuguese and other nationalities that participated in enslaving Africans?

This writer also included some references to the crimes of Nazi Germany in his criticisms of my defense of the Confederacy and its heroes. I came into contact with many German Luftwaffe members over my career. I had many discussions with the Germans of my generation, most of who admitted they would have willingly flown for the Luftwaffe in World War II.

How many of us sanctimonious, pious individuals might not have been Southern racists if we were born in Alabama in 1820?

20/20 hindsight is so comforting, especially when wearing some rose-colored sunglasses.

Let's return to my incoherent arguments.

Admittedly again, global climate issues and NOx emissions are not directly related but are associated if you get the point I thought I made about money being the crux of the matter. President Trump just pulled us out of the Paris Accords - because of the predicted economic costs to this country and its businesses.

I honestly don't know if that's going to be good or bad for the country and world in the long term. What I do know is that governments waste an enormous amount of money and they also appear to spend far too much on programs that benefit special interest groups with the goal of buying votes instead of benefitting the populace.

Why would I assume that same thing won't happen to another financial windfall from Volkswagen?

Finally, I am not a journalist. An opinion is first and foremost a personal view based mostly on personal experience and judgment. The amount of research I do before and during the writing process depends on my knowledge and experience relative to a particular subject. Sometimes I do extensive research and other times my gut leads me to write a column in less than an hour.

Most columns are something I really feel needs to be said. I don't care if people agree or disagree with what I write. In either case, I hope they know exactly what they believe and why they believe what they do.

My bachelor's degree is in history, focused on American history, but also much wider than that. We Americans do not really understand our history, we don't acknowledge the real lessons we should have learned, and we want to sweep what is not so pleasant into a museum that no one will visit.

"Know thyself," seems to be lost on most of us.

And please remember, an opinion is just the way I see it.