Letters to the Editor

06/24 What You’re saying: Janie Wagstaff, Devjanee Swain Lenz, Michael Ross, Charles A. Wilson, Michael Saltsman and Tony Madejczyk

Recognize our privilege

I am a product of the American Dream. My parents emigrated from India in the 1970s. They shielded my siblings and me from the overt racism and poverty they were subjected to, which undoubtedly contributed to our success as students and adults.

The American Dream is real but it is only accessible to immigrants with wealth, education and of certain ethnicities. Even with those privileges, it has become painfully inefficient to immigrate in a post-9/11 world. It took my white, educated German husband years of business negotiations, visa lotteries and thousands of dollars to move to the U.S. How can anyone expect people running away from war-torn regions to immigrate through these channels when it is improbable for even the most privileged people in the world to do so?

Trump has capitalized on a systematic prejudice – legal immigration is for people of privilege and people illegally crossing the border are dangerous thugs. Even first-generation Americans adhere to this ideology, like U.N. Ambassador Nimrata “Nikki” Haley, an Indian American. Haley announced that the U.S. is leaving the U.N. Human Rights Council because it protects human rights abusers, while not citing the traumatic child abuse occurring at U.S. borders.

Those of us fortunate enough to legally immigrate need to recognize our privilege. We need to recognize that while it wasn’t easy to immigrate, that other people are in worse situations than we or our parents were. We need to defend the people without the privilege to remain safely with their families.

Devjanee Swain Lenz


Early voting costs

Few in the electorate are aware of the costs of early voting, which includes paying poll workers for both training and work days, the preparation and delivery of supplies and equipment as well as increased hours for Board of Elections employees to accept and validate each day’s tabulations. Some polling venues such as churches and community centers also require some stipend but generally are used only on election day. As an election official for the past 10 years, I can vouch for the lack of education on this process.

In fact, the ignorance of the electorate on the entire voting process is significant. One unintended consequence of early voting is the confusion created when voters have voted early at one polling place, but their actual precinct polling location is different. I have actually had people come in to vote on election day only to find out that they had previously voted during early voting. The system does keep track of this during the same election cycle.

But as we know, not everyone votes in every election. Some may remember that two years ago they voted at a library (early voting) but their assigned precinct polling location for election day is different. A voter may show up on a regular election day purely on memory of the last place that they voted but it is not their duly assigned precinct. In such cases, where we do not have them registered, they must either drive to their correct precinct or vote a provisional ballot. If one voted at the library downtown during early voting because it was near work but the voter lives in the northern part of the country, they may have quite a drive to vote in precinct. Voting a provisional ballot on a regular election day OUT of precinct means they may not see the candidates on the ballot that are actually in their districts.

Thirteen of the 50 states in our country have zero early voting days. I wonder how those people managed to vote for all of these yearss.

Janie Wagstaff


Sowing racial discord

Tom Stern, a leader in the deceptively named Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), in his recent guest column, continues to pedal a disinformation campaign while accusing others of “misconceptions.” This campaign is intended to vilify Israel and its supporters. It is not for the benefit of the people of Durham.

Stern belittles our rabbis’ concerns by maintaining that the actual petition submitted to the City Council was not offensive. Yet, its entire purpose was to demonize Israel and nationally, JVP promoted it for that very reason. What Stern asks us to ignore is the venom in the online version of the petition, which differs from the one many individuals were asked to sign. It was written to inflame. Stern does not reveal in his column the truly offensive and blatantly false parts. The objectionable words in the online version are fully consistent with JVP’s ceaseless campaign to stigmatize Israel and include the following:

▪ The Israeli Defense Forces and the Israel Police have a long history of violence and harm against Palestinian people and Jews of Color.

▪ These tactics further militarize U.S. police forces that train in Israel, and this training helps the police terrorize Black and Brown communities here in the US.

JVP tells the world to hold Israel accountable (and those who support Israel) for police brutality against people of color in the United States. That is an obscene accusation that sows the seeds for racial discord. Stern and JVP wish to create tension between supporters of Israel (a country with many people of color) and minorities in the U.S. This race war-like agenda is shameful. No wonder Stern hides this from the reader. He even notes without embarrassment that this language was hidden from many who signed the petition, including at least one City Council member with whom I spoke. Wouldn’t any signatory justifiably feel duped?

Tom Stern and JVP, as part of their obsessive mission to rid the world of its only Jewish state, cynically used the Durham City Council. This was without regard for the best interests of Durham’s citizens. Stern now brazenly reveals how his cabal succeeded. Perhaps the council will wake up and restore its integrity by removing the unjust and unnecessary inclusion of Israel in its statement.

Michael Ross


The cries of children

Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ reference to the Apostle Paul’s words in Romans 13 is a good example of the trap the Biblical literalist find themselves in.

The same Apostle Paul who wrote those words, just a few years later was in Rome when Nero became Emperor. Paul likely met his death there with many other Christians at the hand of Nero.

Paul’s last words were more than likely those of Philippians 4:21-23. He was so happy to finally get to minister in Rome. Good governments can become bad government! A nation under God can become a God forsaken nation. The devil can use scripture for his own purpose. I want to be a Christian in my heart! In my heart! Listen to the cries of the children!

Pastor Charles A. Wilson


As the stomach turns

I invite all of our local “conservatives” to share their best Jedi mind tricks in defending The Little President Known As Concentration Camp Trump. Heck, they might even make some jokes about it. I can’t wait to hear the laughter.

One can’t finish a letter to the editor, set it aside, then send it without another interruption from the hot mess occupying the White House right now. For example, America lost 36,574 soldiers in Korea. 103,284 were wounded. As of April, 2018, 7,704 still unaccounted for. So when our Commander-In-Chief saluted a puffed-up North Korean general, my stomach turned. Again.

Hours later, a policy of pulling children away from their mothers was instituted at the border. What is remotely “conservative” or “Christian” about this? I’m sure by the time I finish emailing this to you there will be another policy debacle from Team Trump. All I know is, Senators Burr and Tillis, the Republican Party of Durham – this is all on you. You are complicit. You have hitched your wagon to the strangest, most amoral goon squad to ever to occupy the White House in American history. See you on election day!

Tony Madejczyk


A career pathway

A widely-covered recent report by the National Low-Income Housing Coalition claims that “nowhere in the country” can a minimum-wage earner afford a two-bedroom apartment. This headline-grabbing conclusion raises an obvious question: Why isn’t there a crisis of homelessness among minimum-wage earners?

For starters, Census Bureau data show that just one in 10 minimum-wage earners is a single parent with children; even fewer have multiple children that would require a two-bedroom apartment. (This small number of individuals likely qualify for housing subsidies and income supplements.) A majority of minimum wage earners are second- or even third earners already living at home with family or relatives.

The Coalition’s minimum wage report asks the wrong question, and thus arrives at a misleading conclusion. If policymakers use it as a baseline for entry-level wages, it would have the unintended consequence of closing off a career pathway for many less-experienced individuals getting started in the workforce.

Michael Saltsman

Employment Policies Institute

Washington, D.C.

Speak up

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