RICHMOND, Va. --- As a native Iowan and woman around Nicole Marie Poole Franklin’s age, (“Iowa woman accused of racist attacks to undergo mental tests,” Dec. 30), I feel compelled to share my personal experience with bigotry growing up.
When I was in eighth-grade at Peet Junior High School in Cedar Falls, a girl called me a kike in front of the entire class because I had a big nose. Her comment was completely random and unprovoked. (I am not Jewish.) At the time, I did not know this girl well nor did I know what the word meant. Given the students’ reactions, I immediately understood that it was an insult.
No one in the room, including the teacher, reacted. As far as I know, the girl was never punished.
Of course the system must evaluate Ms. Poole Franklin for mental health issues, but Iowa’s bigotry runs deeper. Being a bigot is not a mental health diagnosis. Combating hatred must be substantive, and it will take decades to be truly effective in Iowa.