A 45 year-old volunteer-run newsletter has been shut down after publishing published an op-ed questioning the existence of systemic racism.
The piece, titled Racism: From a White Man’s Perspective, was written by Richard Gagnon, a resident of Brentwood, a small southern New Hampshire town with a population of fewer than 5,000 people.
It appeared in the March issue of the Brentwood Newsletter whose publication has since been indefinitely suspended as a result, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader.
The newsletter is partly funded by taxes collected by the town, and also runs adverts. In response to public backlash against the op-ed, the Brentwood Select Board voted 3-2 to cease funding of the publication for the time being.
Prior issues of the newsletter that were previously available online have also been taken down.
The Brentwood Newsletter, a volunteer-run publication, has been suspended after a controversial op-ed ran in the March issue criticizing Black Lives Matter and questioning whether there is 'systemic racism'
The controversial op-ed, titled Racism: From a White Man’s Perspective, was written by Richard Gagnon, a resident of Brentwood, a small southern New Hampshire town with a population of fewer than 5,000 people
'I find it interesting that "racism" for all its supposed simplicity in definition, is really very difficult to understand and define today in its proper context,' Gagnon wrote in the op-ed.
'"Systemic Racism permeates our society!" So goes the cry of groups like Black Lives Matter, Inc. and Antifa, et.al.
'Yet, a predominantly white electorate voted in a black president; four years after that, they voted him in again.
'Now we have a black female vice president.
'We have also had a black attorney general, a black secretary of state and two past and present black supreme court justices.'
Gagnon also wrote: 'What then is "systemic racism"?'
'By what system are we practicing or encouraging racism? Is it in our Congress? Is it in outlaws? Is it in our Constitution? Is it in our electoral process?
'Does any State practice the prejudiced or antagonistic behavior against any minority?
'Does any city or town practice racism in any way, shape, or form?
'If the answer to all the aforementioned is NO, then where is the "systemic racism" so many accuse Americans of practicing?'
The monthly newsletter normally publishes less controversial community-based news and letters from residents as well as advertisements for small local businesses.
It is considered editorially-independent from the town, despite receiving taxpayer funds.
During a March town meeting, voters approved allocating $10,200 to help with printing, postage, and distribution of the newsletter, which is also available online.
The image above shows a file photo of a home in Brentwood, New Hampshire
But last month, in the wake of the op-ed’s publication, a contentious meeting was held at the town hall where at least one resident demanded that the town stop funding the newsletter due to Gagnon’s writing.
One resident, Suzanne Austin, said that she read the op-ed ‘with dismay’ and that racism ‘is not an opinion and causes direct and immediate harm to members of the community.’
According to Seacoastonline, Austin said that the newsletter’s publication on the town’s official web site ‘implies agreement with the views expressed.’
Other residents, however, defended the op-ed, saying it was an example of the right to free expression.
‘We have explored sensitive issues since Day One, including taxes, schools and arguments among neighbors,’ Rebecca Dunham said.
The local board will meet on Tuesday to discuss the matter further. Residents are expected to provide more input before a decision is made on funding of future issues.
‘At this point, a simple majority of the people think we should continue to fund it and that maybe the editor should use a different level of discretion,’ said Ken Christiansen, the select board’s chairman.
The newsletter’s editor, Robin Wrighton, released a statement which read: ‘In March, an article ran of which a group of residents did not approve.
‘Rather than enlightening the community with their alternate opinion, their approach has been to attack and defund this newsletter.
‘They are ignoring the fact that the annual appropriation to fund the newsletter went through the proper channels for approval by the Budget Committee, Board of Selectmen and the voters at the March 13 town meeting.’