Don’t fear the refugee

President Donald Trump’s order barring Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. is mean and based solely on irrational fear. The very few people approved to come to the U.S. were already well-vetted, despite what those within Trump’s “reality distortion field” say.

Our country is a land of immigrants, and our dearest and deepest values include compassion for the suffering of others and bravery in facing those different from us. Trump and Gov. Paul LePage have forgotten the Christian duty to love their neighbors and to treat others the way they would like to be treated.

Trump and LePage are disgracing the values of America with their bigotry, prejudice and fear toward some of the most helpless refugees on the planet. I hope our legislators will show some courage and compassion in the face of this national disgrace. We are better than this.

Samuel Winch


Refugee ban lacks humanity

It’s a sad day when a president of the United States locks the doors to entry of refugees to this country. And it’s mortifying to compare this with the heroic efforts of the Italian Coast Guard, the Greeks and the Germans in helping the thousands of desperate refugees fleeing to Europe. It is hard to imagine circumstances so dire that people would take to unsafe boats with complete strangers or how a family makes a journey through multiple countries speaking different languages.

For the U.S. to refuse aid in light of its actions, military and otherwise, in the Middle East is a cruel mockery of the words on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Donald Trump has irresponsibly played on understandable fears with regard to terrorism from al-Qaida and the Islamic State. Certainly, there may be risks in accepting refugees, but risk is part of life. But considering that refugees are disproportionately women and children, and all refugees already undergo a daunting and exhaustive vetting process, this is a risk I am willing to take in the name of simple humanity.

I commend Catholic Charities Maine for their continuing commitment to resettling refugees, Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King for their opposition to Trump’s order banning refugees, and the many ordinary people who protested at Maine’s airports.

Philippa Solomon


DeVos a champion for choice

America’s education system is behind much of the rest of the world and our children and grandchildren need us to do better.

Education shouldn’t be about Republican or Democrat politics, it should be about providing real options for parents and their children.

The federally mandated No Child Left Behind did not fix it. Common Core education standards did not fix it. Every child learns differently, and it is evident that a one-size-fits-all, top-down approach that ties teacher’s hands in the classroom has not and does not work.

Despite our schools being among the most well-funded in the world, on graduation day our students are at a disadvantage in an international economy.

Education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos has spent more than 30 years fighting for alternatives to our failing system by championing school choice and access to education options for every American student, regardless of what ZIP code their parents can afford to live in.

Families deserve options that are the best fit for them. Whether it’s at home, a public school, parochial, charter, magnet or online, all options should be available.

It’s time for the Senate to support real education reform. I strongly urge Sen. Angus King to rethink his opposition to DeVos and support children, parents and teachers. I would urge all Mainers to contact King in support of DeVos.

Joel Stetkis


Carbon tax a climate change solution

How about those wild fluctuations in weather this winter? Along with melting glaciers and rising sea levels, extremes in weather is one more indicator that climate change is upon us. The idea of leaving the resulting major issues to our children and grandchildren to try to deal with is of great concern.

Frankly, up until now, I have felt pretty powerless in relation to the scale of this problem. But I recently joined the Bangor chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby, which is suggesting a revenue neutral, carbon fee and dividend as a solution. This is a market-based, bipartisan plan us supported by people such as George Shultz, who served as secretary of state under Ronald Reagan.

One major attraction of this strategy is that the revenue from the carbon fee would be returned equally to all citizens, providing economic stimulus while gradually helping our country to shift away from carbon fuels to less-polluting alternatives.

It has been endorsed by the California Legislature, the Philadelphia and San Francisco city councils. A carbon fee and dividend proposal may be the only plan that has a chance to help stop run-away global warming in time to save a livable planet.

Nancy Jacobson


Trump import tax

Why are we not labeling President Donald Trump’s proposed 20 percent tax on Mexican imports what it really is? If we charge a 20 percent tax, it will be passed on to the consumer in this country.

In effect it is a 20 percent tax on us, not Mexico. We will be paying for the wall, not them. Is this another case of “alternate facts”? I thought the Republicans were anti tax increases. What ever happened to ” No new taxes“?

Call it what it is: Mexico is not paying for the wall.

Alan Dearborn


Inauguration grandstanding

It’s amazing Rep. Chellie Pingree didn’t attend the inauguration. First, stop grandstanding and just don’t go. Second, if she lived in the 2nd Congressional District, she’d go or she’d find a herself new job after her current term.

Lastly, Pingree and the rest of the lifetime politicians, Republican and Democrat, are the reason term limits need to be established, if not by Congress then by the people of Maine through a referendum this year.

Ray Bryant