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Educating ourselves about our country and community

In a Letter to the Editor published by the Marietta Times on Oct. 5, a resident of the area posed ten questions about what is happening in our country. I take him at his word that he is seeking answers. I am sure I don’t have all the answers but I would like to offer some thoughts. I invite others to join in on this open conversation.

The writer asks, “Is picking a Catholic who loves God, country and the Constitution a bad thing for the Supreme Court?” My answer is no. Likewise, a Jew who loves God, country, and the Constitution is not a bad thing for the Supreme Court.

I think the writer is referring to Amy Coney Barrett; I am referring to Merrick Garland.

The issue is not about any Supreme Court nominee’s religion, or patriotism, or dedication to constitutional law.

The issue is one of fairness and consistency. If it is the Senate’s policy not to confirm a Supreme Court nominee during an election year, then this needs to hold true no matter which President makes the nomination.

The writer asks “How much money has been wasted in the last three and a half years on stories made up by the Dems and press?” This question is offensive to millions of honest people who are members of the Democratic Party and hard-working members of the press. The question would be equally offensive if it was aimed at Republicans. Do political parties engage in “spin”? Yes, they all do. Do journalistic professionals sometimes get things wrong? Yes, in some cases; when that happens, good journalists issue a retraction. Good politicians should too. It is undeniable that there are people who see it as their job to disperse contrived stories, and journalists who are knowingly reporting false news. However, the pot should not call the kettle black. Deceiving and misinforming the public should be condemned universally.

The writer asks, “If Joe Biden wins, who will really be president or be in control?” We live in a democracy so The People are and will be in control of our country. Should Joe Biden be voted into office, he would shoulder the responsibilities that our Constitution gives to the President.

Every elected official must try to balance the many conflicting wishes of a diverse public. The best elected officials rely on excellent advisors and aids, but the buck stops with the elected official, Joe Biden included.

The writer asks, “If 19 people who were there say Trump didn’t say “suckers and losers” then why are people so stupid to believe it, or does that make a good political ad?” Many people believe that President Trump made these offensive comments about our military heroes because they trust the media outlets and journalists who have reported this story and it is consistent with other undeniable facts.

It is not a matter of people being stupid or smart. It is a matter of who one trusts to deliver accurate information. President Trump’s disparaging remarks about the late Senator John McCain and his own avoidance of military service- facts that are not in dispute – lend credence to reports of his disdain for service members.

The writer asks, “Does the mayor of Portland hate Trump more than he cares for the people of Portland?” This question is like asking a man if he still he beats his wife. There are erroneous assumptions that make this question unanswerable. The Mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler, has been and continues to be in a difficult position. It is a position that he feels has been made worse by President Trump. I am certain that the Mayor loves his city and the people of his city. Let’s heed the teaching to “judge not” especially if we have not walked a mile in the shoes of another.

The writer asks, “If you comply with the police and show them respect, will they shoot you anyway?” Well, it may depend on who you are.

If White people comply with the police and show respect, they will probably live to tell of it.

If you are a person of color in the United States today, that is not a foregone conclusion.

Most young African-Americans get “the talk” when they reach a certain age. By “the talk” I mean they are instructed on what to do if they are stopped by the police.

There is an excellent video of Black parents talking about what they say to their children to try to keep them safe: “A conversation with my Black son”. View it here: youtube.com/watch?v=lXgfX1y60Gw.

The writer asks, “The people that riot and have looted, what do they do for a living, or maybe I should say who is paying them?”

First, let’s agree that rioting and looting are egregious crimes and whoever engages in such behavior should be apprehended and face severe consequences. But the question the writer has posed cannot be answered because 1) some people who have engaged in this behavior have not been apprehended; thus we know nothing about them; 2) the people who have been apprehended do not fit the same mold – they earn their living in a variety of ways; and 3) I am unaware of any evidence that anyone is being paid to riot and loot. This question assumes facts not in evidence.

The writer asks, “How can burning and destroying cities and business of people who had worked so hard to make a life be right or just?” Unlawfully destroying other people’s property is never right or just. And we need to heed the words of Martin Luther King Jr.: “A riot is the language of the unheard.

When you cut facilities, slash jobs, abuse power, discriminate, drive people into deeper poverty and shoot people dead whilst refusing to provide answers or justice, the people will rise up and express their anger and frustration if you refuse to hear their cries.”

If we want our cities and businesses to be safe, we must work for justice and civil rights for all Americans.

The writer asks, “How can open borders help this country?” While most countries do not have open borders there are some that do. For instance Australia and New Zealand’s borders are open.

The same goes for India and Nepal, Russia and Belarus, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Obviously, there are advantages to open borders for these countries. There are a few people in this country who think that open borders would be beneficial. To understand their position see this July 31, 2018 article in USA today: “Forget the wall already, it’s time for the U.S. to have open borders,” usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/07/31/open-borders-help-economy-combat-illegal-immigration-column/862185002.

The writer asks, “If Black lives matter then why is the number one killer of Blacks abortion?” I was surprised when I researched this to find that the writer’s assertion is correct. This fact is borne out by several reputable agencies.

They also report that low income women get abortions at a much higher rate. The fact that a greater percentage of Black women live in poverty lines up these two facts. Economic factors are the biggest reason all women give for abortion.

It should be noted that there has been a substantial decline in abortions in recent years, more so for Blacks than for other racial groups.

So hopefully, abortion will not be the number one killer of Blacks in the near future. For more on this read “Why do Black and Hispanics Have More Abortions than Other Women?” lifenews.com/2017/10/26/why-do-blacks-and-hispanics-have-more-abortions-than-other-women.

And “Abortion is a common experience for US women, despite dramatic declines in rates,” guttmacher.org/news-release/2017/abortion-common-experience-us-women-despite-dramatic-declines-rates.

I hope my response will be received as an effort to foster civility and build understanding. Let us all look for ways to ask honest questions and educate ourselves about our community, our country and our world.

Dr. Mary Jeanette Ebenhack is a member of MOV Interfaith which is committed to fostering understanding, communication and problem solving across faith traditions and cultural contexts.

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