Letters to the editor January 28 to February 3
In winter, we feed the birds. Thirty years ago, I used my hat to capture a tiny, wayward finch against the inside of a window. For a brief moment, I marveled and wondered at the startling burst of life and color in my hand. Then, quickly released outside, it flew away.
At the recent historic presidential inauguration, most of us were introduced to the 22-year-old poet, Amanda Gorman. Her dazzling poem and performance reminded me of my wonder at that finch of long ago. I again marveled at her slender frame, exuberant youth, remarkable energy, grace, beauty and intensity as she searched for light “in this never-ending shade” of our enduring national dilemmas. This was an inspiring call for change and national reconciliation.
All those long years ago, had the Confederacy prevailed in that most uncivil Civil War, this self-described “bronze” person might never have lived or, perhaps, spent a life anonymously toiling in the caste of a slave. Instead, her remarkable talent lifted our spirits and urged us to again commit to a more just nation. She lit a fuse—not to a pipe bomb, but aimed at the better angels in our souls.
“For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it.”
The first clause of the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...”
The history of the idea of separating religion and government goes back to at least Roger Williams and includes the thinking of Thomas Jefferson and other founders. The purpose in their thinking was to protect religion from government interference and to prohibit the exclusion of other beliefs by the establishment of an official belief. In the U.S., religious inspiration is a matter of individual conscience—say, what moves you in church—but activity, in the realm of civics, is meant to be secular.
We are witnessing today a surge of religious fervor that holds that democracy is possible only with a population that believes that God has established rules of behavior, to which the holders of that belief system are privy. William Barr and Josh Hawley have subscribed to this tenet. That this position is exactly what the first amendment prohibits should be obvious. People like Barr and Hawley do not respect nor agree with the first amendment and cannot, honestly, swear an oath to defend the U.S. constitution.
Watching the second impeachment of the President and listening to the 200 Republicans who voted against it, it became increasingly clear that their minds did not register the totality of what happened on January 6. Their insane denial that Trump lost the election fair and square and their acceptance of conspiracy theories revealed that they all have been brainwashed. Considering this along with the 75 million who voted for him, it is evident that we are a divided country. We are experiencing the second Civil War.
Ten Republican congresspersons voted to impeach, in contrast to the first impeachment when none did—still mindboggling in view of the fact that an insurrection had just taken place. They still refuse to accept the fact that the former President is a mentally unfit traitor who must be denied the right to ever run for an office again.
Now that we’ve just witnessed a coup and insurrection attempt, articles of impeachment will be delivered to the Senate this week. What will Republican senators do this time around? They have supported this racist from the start, believing that “only he can fix it.” This so-called leader is unable to lead. He demands total loyalty or else you’re discarded like garbage—the mindset of a dictator (and he apparently loves other dictators, from what we’ve seen over the past four years).
What now, America? Continue to believe the lies (more than 27,000 in four years) and not hold him, his congressional followers, social media and the insurrectionists accountable? The evidence is there and indisputable: This impeached President told his crowd on January 6 that he would lead them down to the Capitol and save our country. Well, guess what? He got into his armored limo, went to the White House and watched the rioters and insurrectionists for hours on TV. He has blood on his hands this time. He’s a coward and a traitor and, now that he’s been impeached for the second time, needs to be convicted.
John and Janice Hahn
My children suffered through a 12-year divorce in NYS family court. It started when Jake was 8. When he was 14, I found out he was smoking marijuana, which was upsetting and not tolerated in my household. I started to give him a urinalysis on a weekly basis to make sure he was clean. His law guardian, appointed by family court, filed an action prohibiting me from administering the test. Judge Mark Meddaugh ruled that it was cruel and unusual punishment to administer intermittent urinalysis on your child.
Jake was taken from me, as I couldn’t allow his drug use to spread to his siblings. Jake had no father figure during the time when needed a father the most, his teenage years. Jake has had a substance abuse problem from that point in his life and still does today. As a result, he has had numerous issues with law enforcement over the past 11 years and it has only gotten worse, as is evidenced by his most recent arrest and actions at our nation’s Capitol.
The family court system failed my family, especially my son, Jake. NYS matrimonial law must change and force the divorcing parties into mediation immediately if they can’t find common ground. In my experience, only the lawyers were enriched, as I spent in excess of a million dollars paying both my ex-wife’s attorney fees as well as my own. We are praying for my son that he conquers his addictions and finds a new path forward in his life.
To see Ned Lang release a statement publicizing his son’s addiction battle rather than acknowledging a portion of his son’s radicalization may have come directly from his own partisan and loud actions—and perhaps, in part, an effort to secure unconditional support from his father—seemed, I don’t know, unfatherly.
It reminds me of how the former President Trump incited his MAGA crowd, then abandoned them at the moment of battle. Radicalization has many fathers, and those fathers could do us all a favor by accepting some credit for it.