For a growing number of politicians, this month's attacks in Paris mean it's time to stop bringing Syrian refugees to the United States. The risk that the Islamic State might send infiltrators in disguise, the theory goes, outweighs America's usual attitude toward taking in desperate people from around the world. "Our nation has always been welcoming, but we cannot let terrorists take advantage of our compassion," House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wisconsin, said Tuesday. "This is a moment where it's better to be safe than to be sorry." By the middle of this past week, more than half the country's governors had declared that their states wouldn't accept any resettled Syrians. Things had changed after Paris. In truth, they hadn't. The outcry over resettling a relatively small number of Syrian...María Cristina García | The Washington Post
JUNEAU — No matter how long I live in Alaska, it seems I'll always be a New Yorker in at least one critical respect: I'm scared of getting lost in the woods. Like, really scared. Part of the reason I live here, of course, is to be in the woods. But I like to be there in a very controlled way: When I know exactly where I'm going, exactly how to get out, and — critically — exactly when I'll get out. Really, there's only one thing that scares me more than getting lost in the woods, and that's getting lost in the woods with six children. Actually, there's one thing that scares me even more than that: Getting lost in the woods with six children when I'm scheduled to lead a Girl Scout meeting attended by 10 children two hours from the time that I'm tromping around in the woods with no damn clue...Libby Bakalar
The global refugee crisis brings to mind a sonnet written by Emma Lazarus in 1883 and inscribed on the pedestal of that gift from France -- the Statue of Liberty -- in 1903. The poem, "The New Colossus," is a tribute to the millions of immigrant families who came to Ellis Island through the port of New York in the late 19th century, of which my family was one. Here's what it says: Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she With...Libby Bakalar
I know I’m the writer here, but you tell me: Is there a word to describe the abject cowardice of some Americans over the issue of admitting Syrian victims of terrorism into the U.S.? You could call them crybabies, but, really, they’re much worse. Faced with the prospect of listening to state Sen. Pete Kelly or presidential candidate Donald Trump fear-monger about Syrian refugees for no reason other than their religious faith, I’d rather sit in the last row, middle seat, between two moms with colicky babies for a 10-hour plane trip. Hell, I’d prefer a 3-inch wood screw in the temple. The terrorist attacks across the globe have been horrific and effective. They’ve been especially effective in stampeding Republican candidates and officeholders into a display of moral cowardice, bigotry and...Shannyn Moore
If Thomas Paine were alive today, instead of penning, “These are the times that try men’s souls,” he might write, “These are the times that try men’s humanity.” There is ample reason to worry. As the leading edge of a Syrian refugee flood is poised to wash into the United States early next year, the slaughter in Paris has triggered a growing fear of Muslim jihadis. In turn, that has stiffened resistance to the federal government’s allowing, first, 1,500 Syrians into the country -- joining 1,854 allowed in since 2012 -- and then another 10,000. An estimated 9 million Syrians have been displaced by civil war and murderous oppression by their government and ISIS. Europe, foundering under the onslaught, is being asked to absorb hundreds of thousands, if not millions, as they flee their homes...Paul Jenkins
While I am the chairman of the Alaska Republican Party, the views I express here are my own. I believe they closely reflect the views of the majority of the officers of the party, but the contents of this commentary can only be attributed to me. I am strongly opposed to the federal government bringing any number of “Syrian refugees” to our nation’s shores, and to Alaska in particular. I put “Syrian refugees” in quotes because they’re not always coming from Syria. People without paperwork can say they come from anywhere. While there are a lot of dedicated people in several federal agencies working hard to screen refugee applicants, a process that can take up to two years, I am not convinced our methods are adequate. Having had a top secret security clearance for 37 years, and having worked...Peter Goldberg
Cops get guns and Tasers, so screen them like refugees Personal disclosure: I’ve worked for the Fairbanks police and served refugees in Catholic Social Services. Recently we have reports of a multiple tasering of a high school student in Sitka, an alleged rape of a woman in Bethel, an alleged violent attack on a drunk in Bethel, the lockdown of the KYUK radio and television building in Bethel and the installation of a security system to protect reporters from the guy who allegedly beat the drunk, and the attack on a Kodiak guy who reportedly refused to answer questions while checking his mailbox. In all incidents, the alleged attackers were cops. One of those Sitka cops, who had tasered a man who subsequently died in New Mexico, apparently had no problem getting hired for a cop job in...Alaska Dispatch News
Each year, thousands of Alaskans are incarcerated. While some leave the state, most, about 3,500, stay in Alaska jails. And according to a study ordered by the governor and released Nov. 16 , that is a very dangerous place to be. While few would assume a jail is a warm and cuddly environment, the idea that the danger might come not from the fellow inmates but from the correction officers themselves is beyond disturbing. The study found in case after case, inmates had died despite numerous pleas for help, with opportunities abounding to stop the chain of events that ended an inmate’s life. In many of these cases, the people in custody were not dangerous felons, but people with problems — drinking, depression, drugs — who crossed the line and wound up in jail. Most of them were not yet...Carey Restino
Two commentaries regarding the University of Alaska recently published by Alaska Dispatch News require a response. The pieces by former regent Kirk Wickersham and ADN columnist Dermot Cole demonstrate barely disguised hostility toward the University of Alaska and a profound want of understanding about what this institution offers to our state. They certainly do not describe the University of Alaska Anchorage I know and proudly serve as member of the faculty. Wickersham’s commentary of Nov. 4 is the most easily dealt with. First he’s wrong. UAA currently stands tied for 77th in the latest rankings (not 68th) on U.S. News and World Report’s list of regional universities (Western Region). Yet consider the criteria used to generate those rankings, which includes exclusivity of admissions,...Paul Dunscomb
The terrorist attacks in Paris on Nov. 13 were terrible and absolutely terrifying. As a French citizen it particularly worried me and touched me. After making sure my family and friends were safe, I started to read article after article about it. I read French newspapers and American newspapers. Through newspapers and social media, a lot of comments, opinions and ideas caught my attention. I’ve been living in Alaska for three years now and I have learned the American way to live, but in all of those comments and opinions one crucial thing was missing: An understanding of the French way of life. As a French citizen living here, I thought it was important I explain why the French reacted as we did and why some comments don't fit our way of life. I am trying to help people understand our...Manon Grimault