Kaepernick’s disrespectful protest

There was definitely a strong backlash against San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s lack of respect for our national anthem to protest what he sees as mistreatment of African-Americans by our police forces, as Michael Serazio noted in a Jan. 23 BDN OpEd.

Our highly esteemed national anthem is symbolic of our patriotism for our flag, for our veterans, for all the soldiers throughout our wars who gave their lives to defend our nation, and for the freedoms we all enjoy.

When I first heard Kaepernick did this, I was outraged he would believe he could get a nation’s respect for “his cause” by disrespecting the symbol for our democracy that gave him the right to do this through our First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech. No, the NFL does not need more Kaepernicks for his decision to address this perceived injustice would only cause division and increased racial tension.

I will quote the article: “And media and fans might begin to treat political agitators like Kaepernick, in life, as they’ve Muhammad Ali in death: less dismissively and disdainfully.” Let us not remember our soldiers who gave their lives for our economic freedoms and Colin’s rights, so dismissively and disdainfully.

Peter Pinette

Woodland

Don’t turn back on refugees

Writing on behalf of rabbis from across Maine, we condemn President Donald Trump’s executive order suspending entry by refugees into the United States. Faced with the largest refugee crisis in human history, our country must continue to be a safe haven for people fleeing persecution, genocide and terror.

Our Jewish tradition teaches that every individual was created in the image of God. We must not turn our backs to the suffering of individuals who have fled horrific violence and who continue to be in extreme peril.

Jewish history bears witness to the critical choice facing our country: whether to rescue those in need or to construct barriers to keep them out. Jews have seen America at its best, and we know what it looks like for our country to provide the chance at a new beginning. In generations past, our families were given opportunities to become part of building our great nation.

We also know what it looks like for America to turn its back on refugees. We have seen xenophobia overwhelm our nation’s capacity for compassion, and we have seen the doors slam shut in our greatest hours of need. Too many people faced death in Nazi Europe after being turned away from these shores.

We appeal to our elected officials to ensure that our resettlement program be restored and expanded for refugees of all backgrounds.

Darah Lerner

Bill Siemers

Bangor

Collins opposition to DeVos tepid

While I appreciate that Sen. Susan Collins said she would not vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as education secretary, she had the opportunity to kill the nomination in committee, and chose not to. By allowing DeVos nomination to go to the full Senate floor, she was able to absolve herself of the pressure from the Republican leadership in killing the nomination, while making it look like she was really listening to overwhelming constituent opinions to vote “no.”

If DeVos is, in fact, confirmed, then her “no” vote on the floor is meaningless, and her “yes” vote in committee is what put DeVos in office.

I am paying close attention to all of my representatives’ actions, and my vote depends on putting the good of the country and the constituency above party politics. While I have voted for Collins in the past, her “no” vote on DeVos has not solidified my vote in the future.

Collins should prioritize putting Mainers’ interests first, not buckling to the party’s or administration’s wishes when they conflict with the greater good. Her vote was a nice gesture, but not enough.

Jen Belanger

Dayton

Support North Woods monument

I wish to express my sincere gratitude to former President Barack Obama for the vast wildernesses he protected, from the spectacular Bears Ears National Monument in the desert of Utah to our Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.

I have had the pleasure of taking several trips into Katahdin monument this past year. The monument provides multiple recreational opportunities for people of all skill levels, from short day hikes suitable for families with young children to multi-day trips. For instance, Barnard Mountain, which was an easy hike for my young son, rewarded us with spectacular views of Mount Katahdin. And I look forward to someday taking my son on a canoe camping trip down the East Branch of the Penobscot River.

This designation is already providing an economic boost to a region that needs it. I live in Bar Harbor, and I know firsthand the economic impact a park can have. My family, like millions of others, plans vacations around visits to national parks and national monuments. So far, we have taken our son to six national parks and monuments outside Maine. Thanks to the new monument, we have taken several additional trips into the Katahdin region, in addition to our usual Baxter State Park trips, with more planned.

I urge Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins and Reps. Chellie Pingree and Bruce Poliquin to support our national monument to help protect this gift and help it reach its full economic and recreational potential for the region and the state.

Glen Beane

Bar Harbor

Trump’s financial conflicts

In defiance of longstanding tradition and the views of most Americans, President Donald Trump has refused to release his income tax returns (not all of which are under a supposed audit) and failed to separate himself from his large financial holdings and business dealings with a genuine blind trust.

Every day in office Trump’s businesses are engaged in transactions that bring him profit and thereby violate the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution.

To cite a recent instance of conflict of interest, it has been widely noted that in his executive order that bans travel to the U.S. by citizens of seven mostly Muslim countries, Trump omitted the one country that produced nearly all of the actual terrorists on the 9/11 attack planes — Saudi Arabia.

Who can say for sure whether that omission was soundly based or was made because the Trump businesses have large deals pending in Saudi Arabia?

James Matlack

Rockport