Saturday January 20, 2018
I was disheartened that some Daniel Boone School District parents and school directors objected to a valuable and timely opportunity for students ("Boone principal apologizes for assembly," Reading Eagle, Jan. 12). Blaming the YWCA Tri-County Area for presenting inconvenient facts in its "Stand Against Racism" program is like shooting the messenger.
Unfortunately many people deny the reality of race relations in the U.S. and ignore their own potential to help. The main criticism reported was how the material was presented. To assume young people aren't intellectually capable of consuming and evaluating complex or controversial subjects is to underestimate them.
It's a disservice to all to sweep problems under the rug by couching them in language that is palatable but imprecise.
I believe ideas causing discomfort have the greatest intellectual impact. It's not pushing political ideologies on students to point out that white privilege exists or a female may face discrimination in the workplace because of her gender. It's simply a reality, albeit an uncomfortable one.
It's regrettable that programming involving the YWCA has been suspended, given that it plays an important role in the community and has a long history of expertise in this area. I encourage reversal of that decision.
As a Daniel Boone resident and taxpayer, I sincerely hope the response to the assembly on racism won't prevent district officials from providing similar programs to students and their parents. Conversations on race and its context in history should be a required part of any school curriculum.
Students should hear anti-racism message
Sunday January 21, 2018
Today the future of more than 800,000 humans is threatened. Life goals are in limbo. Law-abiding, hardworking young people are living under threat of detention, deportation and the loss of any ability to support themselves or their families.
In what nation do these 800,000 live? What nation would cast out innocents who have broken no laws? Shamefully, it is happening in the United States, a place founded on Christian principles and the promise of liberty and justice for all. That promise is being broken before our eyes.
Here we are either immigrants or original Americans. If you are not an indigenous American, you are an immigrant or a descendant of immigrants from somewhere else.
From the very first, immigration to this country and its consequences have shaped the heart of our democracy and influenced everything that is both wrong and right about us.
As "A 'Dreamer' speaks and tears flow" (Reading Eagle, Jan. 13) illustrated, our own communities and young people are affected. Gov. Tom Wolf has spoken out for the young people at risk.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, provides protection and a pathway to legal status for children of immigrants brought to this county, many as infants. Human lives are not bargaining chips. These young people are the promise of a new generation. In every way, they will be vital to community and country, if we stand with them.
Support DACA and a clean Dream Act. We need to get this right.
DACA participants must be protected
Friday January 19, 2018
Mark Twain said politicians and diapers need to be changed often, and for the same reason. But voters must overcome both gerrymandering and voter suppression.
Priorities USA studies showed that the president won Wisconsin by 22,748 votes, but more than 200,000 registered voters lacked their newly required state ID. Despite incessant repetitions of baseless claims of voter fraud swallowed by the gullible, suppression is the real problem, not fraud.
Gerrymandering has Berks County represented by four Republicans, all of whom voted for Sen. Pat Toomey's tax bill that created a windfall for the wealthy. I suspect Rep. Ryan Costello did so because he expects a primary challenge and feared voting against it would lead wealthy donors to support a Republican rival. Congress sends soldiers to die for America, but too often our cowardly congressmen sell their souls for fear of losing an election.
According to U.S. News & World Report, Bank of America analysts say corporations are already sitting on trillions of dollars and forecast that most of their tax savings will go to enriching shareholders with stock buybacks, not job creation or wage increases. Roughly 80 percent of the 2004 tax cuts went to stock buybacks, but the gullible are certain that this time the money will surely trickle down.
It's time to change our politicians.
It's time to change our political leaders
Friday January 19, 2018
Humans navigate their lives by creating models of reality based upon answering three questions: what is, what matters and what now? The success of these models depends upon how well they correlate with reality. The most accurate models are the products of empirical knowledge and internally consistent reasoning. Unfortunately, most humans reject the latter approach, opting for the faster, easier and inaccurate instinctive model based on self-interest, judgmental emotions, and fear of "the other."
The fear of the other has fueled more hatred, cruelty, injustice and atrocities than any other ideology. People are feared because they are different from us. They are Muslims, Christians, Jews, nonwhites, whites, women, LGBT people, foreigners, immigrants, the poor, Republicans or Democrats, to name a few.
What is: These models of the other are false; justifications for racism, xenophobia, misogyny and virulent nationalism; an integral part of our political (Roy Moore), executive (president's comments on immigration) and legislative (gerrymandering) processes; and an existential threat to our society's stability and Constitution.
What matters: Justice, equity, compassion, truth and the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
What now: Reject the fear-mongering and challenge those who support it.
Ward G. Becker
Americans must reject fear-mongering tactics
Thursday January 18, 2018
For our Jan. 14 service, I prepared to preach from the Gospel of John as one of the disciples questioned, in reference to Jesus, if anything good could come from Nazareth. For me this text demonstrates that we cannot judge anyone based on their city or state or country of origin.
I believe President Donald Trump needs to hear again the words of this Gospel and the message of Christ regarding the value of all people from all nations and all races. His comments reported last week are abhorrent and unacceptable from anyone. Our nation gains strength and greatness from the diversity of people who call the United States home. May we hear again a message of welcome.
The Rev. Mandy Miller
Pastor, Holy Cross United Methodist Church, Reading
President overlooks key message of Bible
Wednesday January 17, 2018
I am yet again shocked and outraged by the words and actions coming from the Oval Office by President Donald Trump. He again has torn away some of the building blocks from the foundation that makes up our democratic republic.
Immigrants, no matter where they are from, come to our nation looking for opportunity to better their lives and to provide for their families.
The words coming from our president have insulted and slapped hundreds of my constituents in West Reading who are productive members of our society who work very hard for their families and who are just as much American as you and I.
We must look at history to know that this isn't the first time bigots in our government have pushed aside minorities. The Italians, Irish, Eastern Europeans and many other groups were met with discrimination when they arrived in the land of opportunity.
This time, however, we can stop the trend. I encourage and hope our representatives in Washington, no matter which party they are, loudly and clearly denounce these hateful remarks.
Editor's note: Imbesi is president of West Reading Borough Council.
Trump comments tear at our foundation
Wednesday January 17, 2018
It's clear who will benefit from the new tax plan: the rich. What we're hearing less about is who will pay the consequences, and that's hardworking, low-income Americans.
This year there already has been talk of attempts to gut essential programs such as Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly referred to as food stamps. So after giving away $1.5 trillion in tax breaks to millionaires, those same critical programs will likely wind up back on the chopping block. With one in eight Americans below the poverty line, this is both bad public policy and just plain wrong.
We need to make clear to Congress that we won't stand for any attempt to unravel anti-poverty programs.
Kathie E. Takush
Wealthy will benefit at expense of the poor
Wednesday January 17, 2018
"I am tired of living with an expiration date." Those words of Rainy Leonor-Lake, a "Dreamer" brought to this country at the age of 6, reverberated at a town hall meeting in Allentown ("A 'Dreamer' speaks and tears flow," Reading Eagle, Jan. 13).
These were poignant words from someone who worries every day about the possibility of a unwanted knock on her door.
When I hear a call to deport 800,000 "Dreamers," children who grew up here but had no say in the decision to relocate to America, I am reminded of the verse: "First they came for the Jews ... ," written by German Lutheran pastor Martin Nieméller, about the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis' rise to power and subsequent purging of their chosen targets, group after group.
Projections are that Berks County will need tens of thousands of new workers over the next decade. Will the person made famous by saying, "You're fired," say to young "Dreamers"/workers, "You're expired"?
Almost a million dreamers want to make America better.
Yes, we must deal with border security.
The president can waste billions of dollars on a 2,000-mile, 100-foot-high ineffective wall to assuage his base if he likes.
But let the "Dreamers" stay.
Do what's required to let 'Dreamers' stay
Tuesday January 16, 2018
I support the Second Amendment. I accept that it allows people to arm themselves against threats. I even understand the reasoning that says an armed citizenry is a check against a tyrannical government. What I don't understand is the idea that the Second Amendment dictates that ordinary Americans enjoying a concert need to be subject to death, serious injury or life-altering trauma.
No less a conservative than Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, "Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited." A recent letter writer claimed that guns and cars don't kill people, but people do ("Anti-gun arguments don't stand up to facts," Dec. 23). Since we implement laws to make driving a car safer, why can't we consider laws to make using guns safer? The same writer quarreled with the statistics about gun deaths, noting that two-thirds of them were suicides. I don't know why a suicide wouldn't be considered a death. Rather than being an argument against gun control, suicide statistics demonstrate another reason for it. Studies show that access to a gun increases the likelihood of suicide.
Yes, there are already gun control laws. But since the Las Vegas shooter obtained his outrageous firepower legally, perhaps gun laws need to be re-examined. We could start by repealing the Dickey Amendment, which hampers the ability of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to even conduct research about gun violence.
Laws regulating guns should be improved
Saturday January 13, 2018
As shown in "Costello's vote for tax bill draws fire from constituents" (Reading Eagle, Jan. 7), U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello's town hall in Wyomissing drew only about 80 participants. Why so few? Your readers may not be aware of the lengths to which his office goes to limit the right of the public to question him.
First, he speaks to the public very rarely. This is only his second town hall in our area in a year.
Second, the town halls typically are announced on very short notice, about 48 hours in this case.
Third, they are strictly limited to constituents. I heard of some people living only blocks away who were excluded because they are gerrymandered into other districts.
Fourth, no one without a ticket is admitted. People had a 24-hour window to register, then had to wait for confirmation from Costello's staff, before bringing a ticket and ID to be admitted. (It feels like visiting a prison.)
Finally, and most disturbingly, anyone whom Costello's staff deems to be a "security risk" is barred from his public events. This includes people I know who have taken part in peaceful protests at the congressman's office.
This is America today: You can use your right to protest or your right to free speech, but not both. Costello should tell us how long these people will be sentenced to lose their civil rights, with no charges and no court proceedings.
Lawmaker's town hall should be more open