Archive

April 6th, 2016

Give this civil rights hero the Medal of Freedom

    On March 2, 1955, a young African American woman boarded a city bus in Montgomery, Ala., took her seat and, minutes later, refused the driver's command to surrender it to a white passenger. "It felt like Harriet Tubman was pushing me down on one shoulder and Sojourner Truth was pushing me down on the other shoulder," she mused many years later. "History had me glued to the seat."

    Two police officers arrived and pulled her from her seat. They forced her into the back of a squad car, one officer jumping in after her. She prayed furiously as they sped out, with the cop leering over her, guessing at her bra size. She was fingerprinted, denied a phone call and locked into a cell. Charged with disturbing the peace, breaking the bus segregation laws and assaulting the officers who had apprehended her, she was released later that night.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Does Trump really want to win?

    I used to chuckle when Donald Trump called himself a "unifier." So far, the Republican front-runner has been about as unifying as a fox in a henhouse.

    Yet unity appeared in unexpected ways after his comments on abortion rights in a town meeting with host Chris Matthews on MSNBC. The Donald's views, which he appeared to be sorting out even as we watched, amazingly brought pro-choice and anti-abortion leaders together on common ground -- against him!

    Hemming and hawing like a student who had forgotten to study his homework, Trump tried and failed to change the subject before he finally seemed to decide what he believes.

    That required a big leap for him. He supported abortion rights through all nine months of pregnancy in the 1990s. Now as frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, Trump has evolved. Now, he said, he believes that women who have an abortion should be subject to "some kind of punishment."

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

A sickening spotlight on my hometown

    Like many longtime reporters, I celebrated the Oscar victory for "Spotlight" and the fearless journalism that exposed the Catholic Church's clergy sex abuse scandal.

    I would soon see the story, and the scandal, from a very different perspective.

    Two days after the Oscar ceremony, news broke about another widespread church coverup. I found myself poring over a grand jury report outlining in sickening detail the abuse of hundreds of children by at least 50 priests and religious leaders in western Pennsylvania's Altoona-Johnstown Diocese - in my hometown.

    I moved away long ago, but I still have family there. I visit regularly, and my mom was a devoted parish volunteer during her lifetime. I figured I might recognize a few of the accused or some of the churches. I quickly realized things stretched far beyond that.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

A basic income is smarter than a minimum wage

    Just as Britain raises its minimum wage and as Bernie Sanders's demands for a 50 percent increase in minimum pay keep winning him votes in the U.S., some politicians in one of the world's most socialist countries, Sweden, are in favor of going in the opposite direction. They could be right, especially if nations can find a way to unhitch basic subsistence from work.

    Sweden, along with some other countries with big social safety nets -- Denmark, Norway, Switzerland -- doesn't have a legally mandated minimum wage. Instead, the minimum salary is collectively bargained. The country's strong unions and socially responsible employers make sure that, at 20,000 kronor ($2,468) per month, it reaches about 64 percent of the average wage -- more than twice the U.S. rate. Now, though, three opposition parties in the Swedish parliament are in favor of legislating to lower it as a way to adjust for the arrival of an army of immigrants with relatively low skills.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

When Whites Just Don’t Get It, Revisited

    Let’s start with a quiz. When researchers sent young whites and blacks out to interview for low-wage jobs in New York City armed with equivalent résumés, the result was:

    A) Whites and blacks were hired at similar rates.

    B) Blacks had a modest edge because of affirmative action.

    C) Whites were twice as likely to get callbacks.

    The answer is C, and a black applicant with a clean criminal record did no better than a white applicant who was said to have just been released from 18 months in prison.

    A majority of whites believe that job opportunities are equal for whites and blacks, according to a PBS poll, but rigorous studies show that just isn’t so.

    Back in 2014, I did a series of columns called “When Whites Just Don’t Get It” to draw attention to inequities, and I’m revisiting it because public attention to racial disparities seems to be flagging even as the issues are as grave as ever.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Trump Does It His Way

    You could hear how hard it was for Donald Trump to say the words.

    “Yeah, it was a mistake,” he said, sounding a bit chastened. “If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t have sent it.”

    I was telling him he lost my sister’s vote when he retweeted a seriously unflattering photo of the pretty Heidi Cruz next to a glam shot of his wife, Melania.

    He repeated his contention that he didn’t view the Heidi shot “necessarily as negative.” But I stopped him, saying it was clearly meant to be nasty.

    Trump also got into his schoolyard excuse of “he did it first” and “that wasn’t nice,” insisting that Ted Cruz wrote the words on the digital ad put up by an anti-Trump group aimed at Utah Mormons; it showed Melania in a 2000 British GQ shot posing provocatively and suggested that it was not first-ladylike. Cruz denies any involvement.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

To fight our enemies, we must understand them

    On Easter morning, the congregation at the historic St. Mary's Episcopal Church in the District of Columbia's Foggy Bottom community prayed for those caught up in tragedies in Brussels and Ivory Coast.

    The toll of the onslaughts was great.

    Claimed by the Islamic State, the March 22 bombings at the airport and metro station in Brussels left at least 35 dead, including three attackers, and more than 300 injured.

    The March 13 attack at an Ivory Coast beach resort in Grand-Bassam left 22 dead, including six gunmen, two soldiers and 14 civilians. Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility.

    The St. Mary's congregation prayed for those who lost lives, those working to save lives, those worried for people they love and those who will see their loved ones no longer. They prayed for the Lord to have mercy upon them.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

The Republicans’ Gay Freakout

    Our infrastructure is inexcusable, much of our public education is miserable and one of our leading presidential candidates is a know-nothing, say-anything egomaniac who yanks harder every day at the tattered fabric of civil discourse and fundamental decency in this country.

    But let’s by all means worry about the gays! Let’s make sure they know their place. Keep them in check and all else falls into line, or at least America notches one victory amid so many defeats.

    That must be the thinking behind Republican efforts to push through so-called religious liberty laws and other legislation — most egregiously in North Carolina — that excuse and legitimize anti-gay discrimination. They’re cynical distractions. Politically opportunistic sideshows.

    And the Republicans who are promoting them are playing a short game, not a long one, by refusing to acknowledge a clear movement in our society toward LGBT equality, a trajectory with only one shape and only one destination.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Black people have economic leverage

    When several black celebrities refused to attend the Academy Awards this year, their protest was initially dismissed as a futile gesture. Yet their boycott succeeded in exposing Hollywood's subtle but deeply ingrained form of racism.

    There's a lesson to be learned in what the protest of a prominent few can achieve for the many.

    In the past year, Black Lives Matter activists have taken to the streets of Boston, Baltimore, New York, Chicago, Minneapolis and other urban centers to protest the extrajudicial executions of young black men by police who shoot first and fabricate later.

    But, astonishingly, once the blue-curtain coverup gets lifted and the lies are exposed, many mayors and other officials - with the notable exceptions of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton - express a shallow remorse and offer hollow promises to improve transparency and accountability. Little changes. Black bodies continue to pile up.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

April 5th

A year later, no justice for Farkhunda

    On March 19, 2015, Farkhunda Malikzada was murdered by a mob of angry Afghan men because a local religious cleric had falsely accused her of burning the Quran. The crowd threw stones at her, drove over her body, and set her on fire. On the day she died, Farkhunda had no protection from the state or those around her. The struggle to achieve justice for her has become a sign of the struggle to protect the rights of women throughout Afghanistan. Like many Afghan activists, I have spent the last year attending protests and writing about and working with local organizations to advocate for justice for Farkhunda. When we began speaking out along with thousands of Afghans around the world, we hoped that Farkhunda's murderers would be brought to justice and that her case would set a precedent for the legal system to protect the safety and rights of Afghan women. But a year later, the lack of justice has had significant implications for women's rights in Afghanistan, where the majority of perpetrators of violence against women never face legal repercussions. The government's failure to maintain justice has emboldened criminals and left Afghan women more vulnerable to violence.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!