Beware the beginnings
Upon returning from a month abroad, I read the January letters to the editor. Last November’s presidential election results seem to have encouraged people to come out of the woodwork and express beliefs that, gently put, have be thoroughly repudiated.
No, the Confederate flag is not a symbol of unity and an expression of free speech. It is a symbol of oppression, hate, and claimed superiority over others, similar to the Nazi flag in Germany which, in today’s Germany is forbidden to be flown.
No, the free market is not the sole driver of our well-being. Local, state, federal, and international governmental bodies play an important role in assuring that its gains ultimately serve the common good and don’t destroy planet Earth.
No, the current administration’s propensity for cooking up its own “facts,” ignoring scientific evidence, or claiming a mandate will not make for better decisions to help this country live up to its potential.
Thus, alternate voices need to be encouraged, a narrative worth this country’s constitution needs to be created, misinformation and orthodoxies gone wild need to be countered now. As Germany learned much too late, “beware the beginnings!”
Michael H. Hoppe
A quick response
That was an amazingly efficient and humanitarian response to last weekend’s water disasters, which were resolved so quickly, only a day later.
Thank you to all who helped smooth the process.
The water providers were wonderful, and the unseen people repairing the hands-on underground part deserve especially huge appreciation.
IFC says thanks, everyone
We couldn’t have done it without you:
I write today to say thank you to all the different individuals and groups who stepped up and helped the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service (IFC) during the recent water emergency. After speaking with local officials, it was decided we should shelter those people staying in the men’s and women’s shelters in place and we would continue to offer meals at the community kitchen.
This is easier said than done when housing and feeding approximately 100 to 150 people without relying on public water supplies. However, I need not have worried as the phones started ringing almost immediately with offers of water, paper plates, plastic utensils and antiseptic wipes. While we had some emergency supplies of water, paper plates and utensils to draw upon, those disappeared fairly quickly without any water coming from the taps.
I would like to thank everyone who brought us items we needed, but most people came by one of our facilities, dropped off their supplies and left before we could get any identifying information. I do have a partial list: Orange County Literacy Council, the Carrboro Police Department, Greenleaf Vineyard Church, United Church, Summit Church, Orange United Methodist Church, Elizabeth Waugh-Duford family and the Orange County Emergency Management team.
I was helping to haul water from Carrboro to our women and children’s shelter, HomeStart, when one of the women staying with us told me how overwhelmed she was with the outpouring of help. She saw all of these people worrying about her when they didn’t have water at their own homes. She thought it said a lot about this area and the quality of the people who live here. I couldn’t agree more.
So, thank you to everyone who took the time to help us out, even as you were trying to take care of yourselves through a difficult time.
John W. Dorward
Health care not a marketable commodity
The current Affordable Care Act benefits millions of families who otherwise would have difficulty obtaining health care insurance. If it’s repealed we should replace it with something that builds upon its recognized strengths.
Most members of Congress understand that to act otherwise would be to destabilize a good – even if improvable – national health care program. So why are conservatives rushing to repeal?
More than an appetite for “getting even,” it’s born of their belief that the federal government should have no significant role in initiating, regulating or organizing health care for its residents.
The fact that almost all of our allies have managed to do this successfully without compromising their strong democracies is ignored.
Ultimately, this rigidity originates from inattention to the deliberately ordered hierarchy of rights found in our Declaration of Independence: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Conservatives view health care as a marketable commodity. But the market’s primary aim is profit-making - the “liberty” to pursue one’s economic “happiness.” As such, it cannot be a trustworthy guarantor of our more basic right to “life.”
That right, as a matter of justice, calls for adequate, equal and affordable health care for all Americans. The market did not, will not and cannot provide that.
Suicide and guns
Regarding the news story “Church conference in Chapel Hill examines gun debate” (CHN, Jan. 28):
The fact is that there is no link between suicide rates and the availability of firearms. Many nations with total gun bans have suicide rates much higher than the United States (in one case more than double).
However the strongest evidence is found in comparing three nations, the U.S., U.K. and Canada. All three are English-speaking countries with similar cultures and similar problems and strengths. They are different in one very significant way: The rate of firearms ownership.
Firearms ownership rate (homes with firearms):
▪ The U.K. - 4 percent
▪ Canada - 28 percent
▪ The U.S. - 45 percent
So, if firearms are a major factor in the number of suicides, the U.K. should have a much lower suicide rate, Canada’s should be significantly higher and the U.S. should be even higher – massively higher than the UK. However, this is not the case.
Suicide rates per 100,000 population:
▪ The U.K. - 11.9 (2011)
▪ Canada - 11.5 (2009)
▪ The U.S. - 13.4 (2011)
In other years the order has been different – but clearly, the suicide rates are not significantly different; they are within 15 percent of each other. Canada, with seven times the firearms has a rate lower than the U.K. The U.S., with 11 times the firearm owning homes has a suicide rate only 11 percent higher than the U.K. The idea that firearms have a huge affect on suicides is disproved by this alone.
Clearly if firearms are available, people will use them to commit suicide. In fact, in the U.S. they account for more than two-thirds of the gun-control groups “gun deaths” statistic. So, does a lack of firearms prevent a country from having a high suicide rate? Well, again, let’s look at the facts. Using figures from the World Health Organization, 49 nations have higher suicide rates than the U.S. – and every single one of them has stricter gun laws and lower gun ownership rates. Here are just a few of them:
▪ South Korea 28.9 per 100,000 – Total ban on private firearms – More than double the U.S. rate
▪ Russia – 19.5 per 100,000 – Private firearms heavily controlled
▪ Japan 18.5 per 100,000 – Private firearms virtually banned
The clear reality is that if a person really wants to kill themselves, they will find a way. Removing firearms does not stop them. Suicide is affected much, much more by societal and cultural forces than by the availability of a particular method.
Keep funding for violence office
One of the unity principles in the Women’s March is ending violence. Its first line states, women deserve to live full and healthy lives, free of all forms of violence against our bodies.
Last week the Trump administration proposed a budget that includes funding cuts of all 25 grant programs managed by the Office on Violence Against Women, housed in the Department of Justice.
The grants, established by 1994’s Violence Against Women Act, go to organizations working to prevent domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, stalking and elder abuse.
Some grants are earmarked for transitional housing assistance, legal aid and training to help civil and criminal justice systems better respond to sexual and domestic violence. Some grants also protect child victims, residents of tribal lands, women with disabilities, children who’ve witnessed the abuse of a parent and rural women.
These grants are small but crucial in a system that’s built to cast doubt on victims of intimate partner violence.
Without these programs, our communities will be significantly less able to help women who’ve been victimized rebuild their lives and hold their perpetrators accountable.
Supporter or not of the Women’s March, do urge our state representatives to support VAWA.
Executive Director, North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence
At the Feb. 2 National Prayer Breakfast, President Donald Trump vowed to “get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution.”
Beyond referencing the year 1572, not to mention many other times in history where Christian-on-Christian violence was carried out for fear and political gain (English Civil Wars, the Mormon purge, the latter of which against those our fellow Christians feared), and knowing that not all Christian ministers voted for Donald Trump or support his agenda, this one (mis)step in particular, is Donald Trump sane?
Consider that when Barack Obama became president, a few Republicans, including Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, vowed to make him a one-term president. Well ... they tried. It didn’t work. In Trump’s case, no one is going to even try. They won’t need to. Trump just being Trump guarantees it.
Trump’s travel ban
Regarding the news story “Chapel Hill protest denounces Trump’s immigration policy” (CHN, Jan. 29)
Very interesting numbers from the Conservative leaning Cato Institute and reported by CNN shows why the Trump travel ban is misdirected and misguided. The Cato report states that during the years 1970 to 2016 the number of people killed in the United States from the Muslim countries banned by Trump is nonexistent. The shocking numbers are below:
Libya, 0; Sudan, 0; Syria, 0; Iraq, 0; Iran, 0; Somalia, 0; and Yemen, 0. Contrary are Muslim countries in the Middle East which have been responsible for American deaths during 1970-2016 and countries that have Trump hotels, a strange coincidence, I think not. Saudi Arabia, 2,369 Americans dead; United Arab Emirates, 314 Americans dead; and Egypt, 162 Americans dead.
Sure seems like Mr. Trump has targeted the wrong countries. No doubt, he has lost all credibility with the world. Shame on Mr. Trump, and shame on those who defend him.
Let’s hear from you
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