News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 11, 2014

Readers’ Forum: Jan. 12, 2014


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---- — Jim Jackson was a giant in education

On Dec. 15 , Jim Jackson, the former principal and educator of several schools in West Terre Haute, passed away in Florida. Mr. Jackson was an absolute giant in the world of education and served the community of West Terre Haute for 49 and a half years with passion, determination, pride, grit and good old common sense. Mr. Jackson was a true professional in every sense of the word and always carried himself with dignity and confidence.

Mr. Jackson spent his career building a reputation as a caring principal that always attempted to do the right thing for his students. He was fiercely loyal to the students and staff and had a deep appreciation for the West Terre Haute community. There was not a student that Mr. Jackson would not help and not a problem that he could not solve.

Although he had a rough exterior, Mr. Jackson had a heart of gold when it came to his students and to the West Terre Haute community. He was without a doubt a compassionate man. Mr. Jackson once told me “The true mark of a person is the amount that they care about the people they serve.”

The love and passion for Viking athletics was a hallmark of Mr. Jackson’s throughout his life. He started coaching athletics as a young teacher and developed a philosophy that winning, although important, was not the goal. The goal was to make his players into good fathers and active citizens within their community and remind them to always give something back. Loyalty and commitment were more important to him than a victory on the court. Without a doubt Mr. Jackson will be missed by all he encountered.

On Saturday, Jan. 18, at 3:30 p.m., West Vigo High School will have a tribute to Jim Jackson in the Jim Mann Green Dome to celebrate his life and accomplishments. The tribute is open to the public.

— Tom Balitewicz, Principal, West Vigo High School

No reason for celebration

Froma Harrop’s Jan. 3 column is noteworthy only for demonstrating the very simple-mindedness of the author and her apparent lack of understanding of the basic division between the stock market (as gauged by the NYSE, NASDAC, etc.) and the real economy. She takes at face value the scribbling of a one Bob Deitrick, whose book “Bulls, Bears and the Ballot Box” attempts to correlate economic performance by presidential term.

Per Harrop’s commentary, she appears to accept, on the face, Deitrick’s premise that stock market performance is a proxy for overall economic health. That is only true if you are part of that small minority who derives most of their income from capital gains. She gushes that “not only do Democrats produce superior economic results; they blow the Republicans out of the water”!

My criticism is this: Mr. Deitrick is a broker, a salesman. He has to interest the public both in his “products” as well as himself; otherwise, he would have to find an honest line of work. Ms. Harrop uncritically falls for his, at best, biased analysis.

Now, it may be true the stock market has performed better, generally, under Democrats’ administrations. Could it be that Democrats have been more committed, and longer committed, to Keynesian notions than Republicans? Harrop is conspicuously critical of Reagan, ranking him sixth out of eight, adding that Reagan “tripled the national debt” but neglecting to say that he also created 20 million jobs. How many jobs has Obama created? Not very many. But he has, so far, doubled the national debt. Labor force participation is at an all-time low and there are fewer full-time jobs today than there were in 2000.

The simple, brutal fact is the Great Recession never ended for 90-plus percent of Americans. For that lucky minority that benefits first from newly created money, courtesy of the Federal Reserve temple, life is good. This minority must sleep very well at night knowing that ersatz leftist critics, such as Harrop, are as much owned by them as are the banks, their would-be regulators, and Congress. Pour another glass of Dom Perignon, Froma.

— Matthew Alig, Terre Haute

Must we tolerate this intolerance?

Hoosiers of good conscience must surely count themselves less proud to be citizens in a state suggestive of retardation as a result of legislators bent on amending the Indiana Constitution via HJR-3 (formerly HJR-6). This proposal spits in the face of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that guarantees to all citizens “equal protection of the laws.” Prior to its passage (1868), there was no legal protection for blacks and women, despite Jefferson’s statement that “all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.”

Comes now our legislators, cloaked in the presumptive morality of righteousness, determined to abrogate the 14th Amendment and strip a significant segment of our population of their right to express their love in a same-sex marriage. Blacklisting love! It takes a politician to come up with a doosie like that. Especially one who thinks he is a conduit for God’s will.

Make no mistake about it. This decision is not driven by reason, humanity nor the advances of modern science. Rather it is captive to a fundamentalist fanaticism of faith in Old and New Testament invective against same-sex love. The punishment for this abomination: Death by stoning, if not hellfire.

Hardly the kind of Christianity we have come to associate with Jesus.

What I question is the contention that we must respect the religious extremism of diehard believers like Phil Robertson and give them equal gravitas in this debate. For 300 years in our country apologists for slavery stuck to their guns under a similar kind of perversity that allowed slavery because the Bible did not ban it.

Respect and tolerance for intolerance and for the promotion of ignorance, bigotry and injustice may be protected by the First Amendment.

Freedom for one and all to express themselves, by all means. But also the freedom of speech, if not the necessity, to expose, to condemn and to marginalize opprobrious and injurious speech. We do not welcome or elect KKK kooks to a seat at the table when legislators convene for rational discourse. Some of us Hoosiers may also wonder why Fundamentalist Fanatics of Faith should be welcomed or elected? Except that they have already been welcomed and elected. And, sadly, these diehards would turn back the clock of history.

So let us not pretend that these wannabe apostles of sexual godliness are the equivalent of rational human beings whose minds are sensitive to the biological and psychological sciences and attuned to the crying need for justice long denied.

Rationalists refuse to respect the outdated passages of the Old and New Testaments, books written over four centuries by mere mortals who are fallible and fall short of the glory of God they presume to speak for.

Google or otherwise research “What Jesus said about homosexuality.”

The answer: “He does not mention it.”

About the poor, see Luke 6:20-21:

“20 — Looking at his disciples, he said: ’Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.’

“21 — ‘Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.’”

Finally, for the sake of balance, a passage from Wikipedia:

“Throughout the majority of Christian history most theologians and Christian denominations have viewed homosexual behavior as immoral or sinful. However, in the past century some prominent theologians and Christian religious groups have espoused a wide variety of beliefs and practices towards homosexuals, including the establishment of some ‘open and accepting’ congregations that actively support LGBT members.”

— Saul Rosenthal, Terre Haute

Gay activity bad legal precedent

In the coming weeks Indiana lawmakers are expected to vote on the homosexual “marriage” issue. In a way, weren’t we here a couple thousand years ago? The ancient and primitive Greeks and Romans crassly valued homosexual relations. But eventually the people wised up and realized that was a mistake, and homosexual activity was again deemed unethical and was basically driven underground.

Now, misguided “progressives” are trying to take us back thousands of years to more primitive and decadent times, despite the fact that thinking people have known for centuries that homosexual activity is immoral and a bad legal precedent. (It’s easy to show that all the arguments homosexuals use to try to rationalize homosexual activity are seriously flawed. But the fact that thinking people have known for centuries that homosexual activity is immoral means little to people whose heads are filled with liberal prejudices.)

He who has eyes to see, let them see. The “logic” of heterophobic homosexuals is rapidly leading this society down a slippery slope to a more and more aberrant, disordered and irrational society. Polygamy is coming soon. Maybe down the line we’ll see “marriage” between straight and homosexual consenting-adult incestuous people. Whoopee! Anyone who thinks this is progress is deluding himself/herself. Rome didn’t fall in a day. But it did fall. Hopefully Indiana legislators won’t join this trend.

— Wayne Lela, Downers Grove, Ill.

U.S. stand not just meddling

In his comments printed on Jan. 3, Earl Beal implies that he “can’t see the forest for the trees.” Mr. Beal, your “either/or, black/white” thinking is very limiting. Yes, the leaders of Russia do not encourage societal beliefs outside of what they, the leaders, dictate. To allow this would be to open the door to 21st century thinking and possible social revolution (heaven forbid). If we re-visit the administrations of Reagan and Bush, G.H.W., we are reminded of the power of American and free-nation influence when concentrated. Remember, they pulled-open the “Iron Curtain” as we knew it.

I am an avid supporter of “when in Rome do as the Romans do” — but only in regard to local laws and cultural norms. When there exists a very limiting domestic human rights concern diametrically opposed to that of a majority of American society (remember the Soviet Union’s occupation of Afghanistan in 1980, and the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics?), then “taking a stand” is necessary and ennobling of the cause. We are not “poking into the affairs of Russia,” as we likely could not care less.

However, human rights and freedoms are universal in the eyes of the greatest free nation on Earth. To ignore the opportunity to stand with integrity and reaffirmation of our national belief would be tantamount to rejecting our philosophic foundation: All humankind is created with equal opportunity and permitted to pursue and enjoy “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.”

The U.S. stand against persecution and occupation by the former Soviet Union was so important and impactful, the Soviets returned the boycott decision in 1984 by staying home from the Los Angeles Olympics. Six years later, that “heavy curtain” came tumbling down, enlarging the free world by several nations.

For more than two decades since, the non-military power and impact of America’s national culture and conscience has been a beacon of hope for individuals, special interest groups and nations.

Allay your moral indignation, Mr. Beal, by understanding that the Russian leaders have spoken “blatantly” to America and the free world by their support of Syrian genocide, Iranian recalcitrance and providing an “oasis” to Edward Snowden.

— Jim Camp, Terre Haute

Donated fencing much appreciated

Now that the holidays have come and gone, I have had time to reflect on how thankful I am for living in such a giving community.

I help manage the Giving Garden at the Vigo County Fairgrounds and during the growing season, vandals broke into the garden, stole produce and damaged plants that were being grown for members of the Vigo County 4-H.

The Giving Garden provides more than 22,000 pounds of fresh local produce to the less fortunate. Many local food pantries depend on this food, as well as the people they serve. Purdue master gardeners donate their time to help grow, maintain, pick and deliver all the food.

The local media did a wonderful job bringing light to what happened and immediately the community stood up and asked how they could help. I would personally like to acknowledge Quality Fence of Terre Haute, who stepped up and not only offered to install a fence for us around the perimeter of the garden at no charge, but they also provided all of the material at no charge as well.

This is not something the master gardeners could have afforded to do otherwise. The fence is a wonderful addition to the Giving Garden and will hopefully deter vandals during the 2014 growing season and beyond.

— Greg Fields, Terre Haute

USDA puts child health at risk

The USDA announced last Friday that it would permanently weaken the restrictions on the amount of meat that can be served in the National School Lunch Program. As a registered dietitian, I see this as a devastating move for the health of our nation’s children.

This decision weakens crucial provisions in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 that were designed to increase fruit and vegetable consumption and combat the epidemics of childhood obesity and diabetes. Loosening the standards in this law allows schools to serve more saturated fat- and cholesterol-laden meat to children, increasing their risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and a host of other chronic diseases.

The USDA’s choice to prioritize meat industry profits over children’s health will come at an enormous price. It will only intensify the epidemic of chronic disease in America, which now accounts for 75 percent of the $2 trillion in U.S. annual health care spending. For the sake of our nation’s children — and our economic future — I urge the USDA to reconsider this decision.

— Susan Levin, Director of Nutrition Education, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

Is Islam a legitimate religion?

The Dec. 15, 2013, letter by Hal Strahm, and the Dec. 29, 2013, letter by Isaac Graham Miller show the problems caused by the Islamic doctrines of Jihad and Sharia. The question arises: Is Islam a Religion?

Many scholars believe Islam’s religion status should be demoted. For  example, there is the book by Rebecca Bynum, entitled: “Allah is Dead: Why Islam is not a Religion”, and then there is the piece by Martel Sobieskey: “Demoting Islam’s Religion Status.”

These scholars believe that de-recognizing Islam’s religion status is the only way to effectively deal with the problems caused for non-Muslims by the Islamic doctrines of Jihad and Sharia.

— Marilyn Dudley, Terre Haute