To the editor:
Matt Withers (Public Forum, April 13) claims that the folks who believe Kansas is "as bigoted as you think" are ones who moved here from somewhere else. He also claims that most "true" Kansans are conservatives who resent outsiders who "attempt to change the way Kansans live their lives."
However, he doesn't seem to know much about the history of our state. I wonder if he's given much thought to the feelings of the Indians who saw his ancestors flock here to take their land and change their lives forever. He also seems ignorant of the events that led to Kansas statehood. It was a little over 150 years ago that abolitionist families flocked to the Kansas territory to oppose the injustice of slavery. Douglas County was at the forefront of the progressive left in Kansas then, too, and thanks to those liberals we entered the union as a free state.
December 2005 will mark the 150th anniversary of the Wakarusa War, when 1,500 armed (and largely out-of-state) conservatives attacked the liberals in Lawrence in an attempt to destroy the town for its anti-slavery politics. The Free Staters stood their ground then and their ideological heirs, the liberals of Douglas County and Lawrence, continue to lead the state and the nation today in progressive movements that protect the civil rights of us all. Given Kansas' history, it's ironic that the Free State has earned a reputation for bigotry. Lawrence must still lead the way. "Ad astra per aspera."
John W. Hoopes,