Reader: Thank you for your column on the display of a Nazi flag in the Frontier High School history teacher's classroom ("Nazi flag apology? We never got one, and thank you for that," Feb. 6). There are few people left who lived through the horrors of World War II. Ironically, President Trump, in his State of the Union message, introduced us to some of the survivors.

I was fortunate to learn from Prof. Meir Yoeli, a Lithuanian Jew who served with the British Army in North Africa and my Ph.D. advisor at New York University. Much as we would like to forget the horrors of the past, it is important to remember because misunderstanding and hatred are still with us.

As an example of misunderstanding, I will cite the tearing down of the Nazi flag in the movie "The Sound of Music." In Malawi, where I was teaching at the university, the censors removed this scene as it "showed disrespect for a country's flag."

As an example of ongoing hatred I will cite an incident in the small town of Stella in the Republic of South Africa. Our car broke down there on the way back to our home in Botswana. (I had been to a convention on plant use, the first time I had ever participated in South African activities. I had avoided them until the black majority was given the right to vote.) We checked into a small motel and after supper checked out the bar where the TV was showing a rally of the AWB, a right wing hate group with a flag that resembles the Nazi flag with one of the central arms missing. The men in the bar were cheering them on! We slunk back to hide in our room. Next morning we were towed back to the border. I will never forget that night in Stella.

I, too, do not apologize for reminding people that we must continue to resist hatred, no matter who tells us otherwise!

— Bruce J. Hargreaves

Price: Some people may have been offended that teacher David Gaeta displayed a Nazi flag in his classroom last month, but more seem to have been offended that he felt compelled to take it down. Why? Because we're supposed to be offended by that flag. Gaeta should be free to re-create in his classroom the sense of foreboding the Nazi flag represented for Western Europe, and especially European Jews, 80 years ago — and still does today. Sensing even a wisp of what they felt helps the lesson sink in.


Reader: I think that something you wrote needs an explanation. You wrote, "Nazi Germany, like modern racist America, was not a place of comfort for anyone other than Hitler's anointed demographic." Are you saying that America is all racist and it's not a place of comfort for anyone other than "Northern European Protestant heterosexuals"? It certainly looks like that's what you're saying, and maybe that does deserve an apology.

— John Sarad

Price: My "modern racist America" was a shorthand reference to the entrenched and resurgent racists who lurk in and increasingly out of the shadows in America today. It probably wasn't very clear shorthand. That said, everyone — even the supposedly enlightened among us — carries around racial stereotypes of some type and degree. I include myself. 


Reader: I feel that the Nazi flag that the history teacher was displaying ("Nazi flag taken down in classroom at Frontier High School," Feb. 2) was a point of reference and ... a valuable teaching tool. He was not supporting it; he was remembering what the Nazis stood for.

— Marc Pasquini

Price: Steven Mayer, who wrote the news story upon which my column was based, responds:

"Nowhere did my story suggest the teacher was supporting Nazism or what the flag stands for. The issue is his decision to keep the flag hanging in the classroom during the period of his instruction on World War II. Where in my story are you seeing anything suggesting that he was "supporting it"?


Reader: I wanted to take a minute and thank both reporter Steven Mayer and photographer Alex Horvath for the excellent article and photos regarding our group at St Francis Church ("Unbearable loss made bearable," Jan. 30). We were all so pleased that we made page 1.

Their sensitivity, tenacity and attention to detail resulted in an outstanding piece of journalism. We are grateful.

— Molly McKean Sabat

Price: Steve and Alex's story about Patty Reis, the adult children she lost in a 2012 triple homicide, and the support group she helped formed, was at once heartbreaking and uplifting. Thank you for saying so.


Reader: I read and shared your article on (late advertising executive) Jerry Gibbons and wanted to say thank you ("'Mad Man' of Bakersfield chased his creative dream to SF," Jan. 30). It is such a heartfelt column and our family is so grateful. Jerry was my wife's great uncle and we were very close with him. 

— Curtis Nemetz


Reader: Thank you for your mention of the Cactus and Succulent Society in your column about the Super Bowl ("Indifferent to football? The Super Bowl experience has something for you, too," Feb. 3). Unfortunately, we do not have many weekend activities (that might interest non-football fans).

Our next meeting is on Feb. 12. Our speaker is Mark Muradian, from the Laton area. His topic is "Building an Outdoor C & S Garden." We meet at St. Paul's Church, 2216 17th St., at 7 p.m.

Yes, I am related to that other Hargreaves who writes to you.

— Polly Hargreaves

Price: I shouldn't admit this, but I had no idea Bakersfield had a Cactus and Succulent Society. I suppose I should have checked. I was just trying to come up with an imaginary diversion people might want to consider if football does not interest them. I still haven't heard from the HO-Gauge Train Buffs of America.

Two Hargreaves on the same day? Further confirmation this is the smallest 400,000-population city in America.


Reader: Here's my suggested headline: "Snoozer Bowl." Lowest-scoring Super Bowl in history.

— Pete Carton

Price: Apparently you did not play linebacker, Pete; some consider the Patriots' 13-3 stifling of the high-scoring Rams a thing of beauty.

I thought our headline, "Lords of the rings" — an allusion to Tom Brady's (now) six Super Bowl rings — was pretty good. The Boston Herald and New York Post used it, too, turns out. But the Wall Street Journal and Sports Illustrated both used some version of "Snoozer Bowl." 

Reader: Great column on the Sunday Bowl. I laughed out loud several times. Underlying truths also pertinent to lots of current events. Looks like your (prediction of the Patriots beating the Rams by) 10 was accurate.

— Sheryl Barbich

Price: It's true — I responded to Sheryl's original email with a Sunday morning prediction: Pats by 10, even though they're the team I love to hate. I must admit, though, I expected something more like 45-35. I'm bragging anyway.

Contact The Californian's Robert Price at 661-395-7399, or on Twitter: @stubblebuzz. The views expressed here are his own.

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