June 2016 Issue
June 29, 2016


Source: NYSUT United

Thank you for the focus on literacy

I received my copy of NYSUT United (June 2016), and was delighted to find a wonderful story about my comic book library and the other great things being done by my colleagues to promote literacy.

I can't thank you enough for the great article. It was a pleasure talking with Liza [Frenette]. She did a fabulous job with the article. I hope she can come see us when the library is re-assembled at Oneida Middle School next school year.

Walt Mahoski | Schenectady

Why 'potato famine' is a misnomer

Thanks for excellent reporting (NYSUT United, June issue) on Kate Mullany receiving the honor she deserves. The more people know about her courage, the more they will be able to speak truth to power and put an end to bullying in the workplace and in the marketplace.

On a personal note, I wanted to clarify the history of An Gorta Mor, or The Great Famine, mentioned in the story. The Great Famine was caused by many factors, not only the failure of the potato crop. No English landlords died of starvation. Food was exported from Ireland by the Dickensian neo- Liberal capitalists who were addicted to laissez-faire economics.

Strong anti-Catholic, racist elements contributed to the failure to provide sufficient famine relief despite great efforts by some British humanitarians and by the Quaker community.

Many modern British historians, beginning with Cecil Woodham Smith, have recognized the validity of the term "avoidable famine" and the culpability of the free-trade capitalists.

The "potato famine" misnomer reinforces the stereotype of the ignorant Irish peasant, incapable of providing or consuming any food beyond a potato. Emphasis on the potato also ignores the horrendous political and economic conditions that existed for decades before the famine. Those repressive conditions were exposed and satirized by Jonathan Swift in A Modest Proposal.

Journalistic use of the term is commonly accepted. I know there is no disrespect intended.
Tony McCann | Retiree Council 10

About letters

Letters are published at the discretion of the editor, who takes space, relevancy, fairness, legal liability and accuracy into account. To submit a letter, email united@nysutmail.org, fax to 518-213-6415 or mail to Letter to the Editor, NYSUT Communications, 800 Troy-Schenectady Road, Latham, NY 12110. Please include your name and hometown or union.