Speak out against oppression
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak for me.
Defunding Planned Parenthood will lead to more abortions
Because one is pro-choice does not necessarily mean they are pro-abortion. I don't know anyone who is pro-abortion. In a perfect world it would not exist. Pro-choice means they don't feel it's their place to make that very heavy decision for anyone else. It's not their place to judge them - it's God's. Please consider this.
There have always been abortions, since biblical times, and neither Trump, nor anyone else, is going to change that unfortunate fact of life. Instead, abortions will be done in back alleys. What if your 16-year-old daughter, or granddaughter, or neighbor, got pregnant and was too scared to tell her parents because of their anti-abortion stand? Where would she go? To a backstreet butcher?
Planned Parenthood provides education, free birth control, adoption counseling, and free healthcare to women and children. Each state determines the limit for how far into a pregnancy an abortion can be performed. It is not federally funded.
Consider the woman who is poor, has five children, can't afford birth control, or has a husband who won't take any responsibility, use a condom - or stay off her. Where will she get birth control if PP is defunded? The result?
What about the teenager who is too afraid to talk to her parents? MORE ABORTION. Repeat that scenario hundreds of thousands of times - MORE ABORTION. Until sex is outlawed, it's unrealistic to think making it unlawful accomplishes anything. So yes, many of us are pro-choice, and if Trump defunds PP, it will lead to MORE ABORTIONS, not fewer.
And if the anti-abortion people are as firmly against it as they claim to be, then why it is acceptable in cases of rape or incest? Does that child not deserve to live? It is not the child's fault how he or she was conceived. Why the exception? No one is pro-abortion, but look at the bigger picture - less or more? Get down off your self-righteous high horse. Planned Parenthood is not the problem.
PENNY WEIGEL, Lahaina
U.S. is lurching backwards
We are now officially in a New Age of Chaos, created by Donald Trump and his close advisors. Whoever thought that we would have a president who makes John McCain look moderate? Well, we do!
One wonders how long values held dear to Americans can last in the face of the Trump-brand Constitution Shredder? Free speech, fair speech, accurate speech - all are being banned at various levels of government, but some brave federal workers with integrity are not backing down.
And now Trump has blocked immigrants - even those who have already been vetted for several years by up to eight U.S. agencies and approved for immigration at long last - from seven Muslim nations that he said are hotbeds of terrorists.
Never mind that conspicuously missing from that list is the nation that supplied the overwhelming majority of the 9/11/01 hijackers who flew into the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon, and that country would be Saudi Arabia, of course. Indeed, of the 19 attackers, 15 were Saudis, two were from the United Arab Emirates, one from Egypt, and one from Lebanon, and none of those countries made Trump's list.
No other immigrant has attacked civilians on American soil except the Pakistani-born wife of the San Bernardino shooting - and that country is not on Trump's list either (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen; none of which have sent refugees, asylees or immigrants that have committed acts of terror in the U.S.).
It is clear that Trump and his people despise the nonpartisan, fact-checking media (along with many other sorts of truth-telling, evidence-based professionals). But I have no immediate recollection of the papers of record flat-out naming what the Trump team claims as "alternative facts" as in fact falsehoods (noting gross inaccuracies) or even lies (noting clear intent to deceive). Punishing the National Park Service for showing photos of Trump's inauguration and Obama's inauguration - photos revealing far more in attendance for Obama's first inauguration - is beyond belief.
We are now under the thumb of a man who is increasingly being called mentally ill, a "malignant narcissist." His power to commit all manner of mischief is now enormous. The people of the U.S. will need to engage more than any time in the memory of this senior citizen if we hope to hold on to our democracy and the progress we've achieved in the most recent 80 years. It's all up for grabs, right now.
TOM H. HASTINGS, PeaceVoice
U.S. should stop supporting the carnage in Syria
The lives of millions of Syrians have been destroyed by a horrific war that has killed hundreds of thousands and forced millions to flee their homeland. I went there recently to see and hear directly from the Syrian people.
I met with displaced families from Eastern Aleppo, Raqqah, Zabadani, Latakia and the outskirts of Damascus. I heard from Syrian opposition leaders who commanded the 2011 protests, and widows and children of men fighting both for and against the government. I listened to Muslim and Christian leaders, humanitarian workers, academics, college students, small business owners and many more.
Their message was clear: the regime change war the U.S. is fueling in Syria does not serve America's interest, or the interest of the Syrian people. Time and again I was asked, "Why is the United States and its allies helping al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups take over Syria? Syria did not attack the United States. Al-Qaeda did." I had no answer.
These are the frustrated voices that have not been heard. Instead, we've heard incomplete, one-sided reports that push a narrative supporting this regime change war at the expense of Syrian lives.
I met a 14-year-old Muslim girl from Zabadani who was kidnapped, beaten repeatedly and raped. She watched in horror as "rebel groups" murdered her father in her family's living room, emptying their entire magazine of bullets into him because her father, a sheepherder, would not give them his money.
I met a boy who was kidnapped while walking down the street to buy bread for his family. He was tortured, waterboarded, electrocuted, placed on a cross and whipped because he refused to help so-called rebels - he told them he just wanted to go to school. This is how the "rebels" treat the Syrian people who do not cooperate with them, or whose religion is not acceptable to them.
Repeatedly I was told there is no difference between "moderate" rebels and al-Qaeda (al-Nusra) or ISIS - they are all the same. Although opposed to the Assad government, the political opposition leaders adamantly rejected violence as a way to bring about reforms. They shared that it's the Wahhabi jihadists, fueled by foreign governments, that pose the greatest threat to Syria and its history as a secular, pluralist, once-peaceful society. They continue to seek government reforms but support the Syrian state over jihadist terrorist groups as they work to bring peace to Syria.
The consequences of this regime change war extend beyond the boundaries of Syria. As we spend trillions of dollars on regime change in the Middle East, Hawaii, along with communities across the country, faces a severe lack of affordable housing, aging infrastructure, the need to invest in education, health care and so much more. Our limited resources should go toward rebuilding our communities here at home, not fueling more counterproductive regime change wars abroad.
For years, the U.S. government has been directly and indirectly supporting allies and partners of terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS with money, weapons and intelligence in their fight to overthrow the Syrian government.
I return to D.C. with even greater resolve to end this illegal and counterproductive war. From Iraq to Libya and now in Syria, the U.S. has waged wars of regime change, each resulting in unimaginable suffering, devastating loss of life and the strengthening of groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS.
We must allow the Syrian people to try to recover from this terrible war by ending our support for the terrorists destroying Syria and her people. My Stop Arming Terrorist Act would do just that.
REP. TULSI GABBARD