Readers' letters: Speaking in favor, against Vice President Pence's appearance at Grove City College
Terrorism & religion
This 14-year-old Muslim-American girl condemns all forms of terror. This includes the recent attacks in London and St. Petersburg and the brutal targeting of innocent civilians in Syria and Iraq by both domestic and foreign powers.
The call of extremists to kill and maim in the name of their faith has unfortunately biased the world of onlookers to equate Islam with terrorism. I would like to remind everyone, however, that terrorism has no religion, and, conversely, no religion is immune to such abuse. For example, the lawyer for the primary suspect in the 2015 Paris attack revealed that, even though his client identified himself as a Muslim, he had little knowledge of the Quran. On the flip side, statistics from the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism tell us that the bulk of hate crimes are perpetrated not by radicalized Muslim youth, but by a burgeoning number of white supremacists and other extremists.
Wherever they occur, whoever commits them, and whatever our age or station in life, we all need to speak out against terror acts and dissociate the misguided criminals from the faith they wish to hijack.
The writer is a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Women's Youth Organization (trueislam.com).
Sunday, April 23
Speaking out on speaker
It is sad and disheartening that some Grove City College students and alumni do not want the sitting vice president of the United States to speak at commencement (“Pence visit worries some that Grove City College is too aligned with GOP,” April 14 and TribLIVE).
Today, when there are very few conservative colleges or universities remaining, Grove City would be counted as one, along with Hillsdale College and Liberty University. The liberal ones are in the news frequently for protesting conservative speakers — not even giving them a chance to present their ideas. Does Grove City need to mimic them?
I don't know all the concerns included in senior Jason Dauer's letter to college President Paul McNulty, but the one mentioned in the article regarding “Biblical hospitality” is debatable. Dauer should not conclude that Mike Pence has “demonstrated an open hostility” by barring refugees and supporting stricter border security.
Most of the true Christians I know agree with Pence. Allow him to explain; don't judge him without hearing him. You can't know his motive; only God does.
Remember, even heaven has a wall, gates and a vetting process. Look to the European news to see our future if we allow open borders. Learn from their mistakes.
Thank you, Grove City College students, for deciding not to protest. Please attend your commencement — it's a once-in-a-lifetime event and you worked hard to get there. Let us all hope that your actions have not invited outsiders to the event to protest on your behalf.
Monday, April 24
I wanted to thank Tom Fontaine for his story on Vice President Mike Pence speaking at Grove City College's commencement (“Pence visit worries some that Grove City College is too aligned with GOP,” April 14 and TribLIVE). I was disappointed, however, that alumni were not given a voice in this article.
Recent alumni have spearheaded the Facebook group the article mentions; additionally, I think it is very telling that alumni who have been exposed to the world beyond the “bubble” of Grove City College are the most disappointed that their college has chosen to be represented by a prominent figure who is against LGBTQ rights and humanitarian resettlement of Syrian refugees, and who has chosen to ally himself politically with a misogynist.
The writer is a 2005 graduate of Grove City College.
Monday, April 24
Two great men lost
With the passing of Dan Rooney and Henry Hillman, not only Pittsburgh but the world has lost two great men.
Wealthy in spirit as well as money, they remained down to earth, humble and unassuming. Giving unselfishly of their wealth and time, they believed and lived the creed that all men are created equal and every life is valuable.
The poet Kahlil Gibran wrote: “When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” Joy and sadness walk hand and hand, inseparable, different sides of the same coin.
I never had the opportunity to meet either of these men, and I'm sure the majority of people reading this had never met them either. Yet for all of us, our hearts are filled with sadness, but only because of all the joy these two great men brought into our lives.
From Heinz Field and the Steelers to the Hillman Cancer Center and the Carnegie Museums and beyond, their legacies will live on. They will be missed.
Tuesday, April 25
No cause to complain
Hempfield Township has a population of 42,300 and a median family income of over $58,000. Greensburg has a population of less than 15,000 and a median household income of just over $37,000.
It doesn't seem fair that Greensburg residents should pay for the Pennsylvania State Police to protect Hempfield Township (“Officials against $25-per-person state police fee find little support,” April 19 and TribLIVE). The City of Greensburg, with far less than half the population of Hempfield Township, is able to finance a police force of 27 officers, providing excellent protection and other public services.
All citizens of Pennsylvania pay taxes to finance the operations of our state police. Citizens of Greensburg, Jeannette, Latrobe, Ligonier and many other cities and boroughs also pay for the costs of operating their individual municipal police departments in addition to paying for the state police.
According to a Tribune-Review article (“Wolf budget calculation: time to pay for State Police protection,” Feb. 8 and TribLIVE), Greensburg police cost $286 per capita, and Jeannette police cost $223.
Residents of Hempfield and Unity townships and other municipalities are balking at the proposed $25-per-capita tax for the state police protection they have been enjoying at the expense of their fellow citizens. What are they complaining about?
Wednesday, April 26
The lamentations on the evils of gambling, specifically unregulated gambling where players can keep winnings, assuming they win anything, are hypocritical. I'm not berating the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement lawmen, but please, Lt. Jones, do not insult the intelligence of informed citizenry (“Nine officers, employees of New Kensington's Spartaco Sporting Club arrested,” April 19 and TribLIVE).
I believe all gambling is wasteful. What is most silly is the comment attributed to state police records, if not Lt. James A. Jones Jr. himself, that complaints included stories of people putting entire paychecks into club gambling machines, leaving them unable to pay rent or buy food. Really? People do throw paychecks, their kids' college funds and retirement money into state-sanctioned venues.
Let's be honest. These officers are not enforcing the law to protect the citizenry. They are doing it to protect the monopoly of Pennsylvania's gambling syndicate.
Let's prevent excessive gambling. For state-sanctioned venues anyway, issue gambling ID cards. Remember the old LCB cards of decades past? Limit gambling to a percentage of one's earned income as reported to the Department of Revenue. If gamblers have no taxable income, they can't gamble at all.
Either outlaw all gambling or end the commonwealth's monopoly on this home-wrecking vice.
Thursday, April 27
VA relies on, needs volunteers
Every day, citizens in our community thank veterans by volunteering at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System's facilities in Oakland and O'Hara Township and its five outpatient clinics, including one in Westmoreland County.
Our volunteers vary in age, gender, race, income and education, but all share a patriotic drive to improve veterans' lives.
Last year at VA Pittsburgh, 763 volunteers provided 24,315 hours of service and gave more than $1 million in monetary contributions and donated goods. They drove veterans to appointments, directed them throughout our facilities and visited them bedside so they were not alone in trying times.
National Volunteer Week (ran) through Saturday. It is a time to recognize and thank today's volunteers for their incredible efforts and inspiring actions. It is also a time to call everyone else in our community to serve those who served us first.
We have as many opportunities to volunteer as there are people willing to give of their time. To learn more about volunteering with us, please call David DiFuccia at 412-822-3096.
Karin L. McGraw
The writer is medical center director for the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System.
Friday, April 28
Stop invasive pests
Are you helping invasive pests spread in Pennsylvania or around our country?
You may have heard that invasive plant pests and diseases are primarily introduced through commercial trade — that's true. But once they are here, these destructive plant pests don't move far on their own; they are mostly spread by us.
Through our everyday actions — when we take firewood from home to campsite, mail a gift of homegrown fruits or plants, or order plants, seeds or fruit online — we can contribute to the unintentional spread of any number of destructive plant pests.
Damaging pests like the spotted lanternfly and European gypsy moth threaten the entire state of Pennsylvania. These pests can hide on vehicles, trees, forest products, outdoor equipment, outdoor furniture and other outdoor household articles.
Fortunately, we've slowed the spread of these pests and we need to keep it that way. That's why it's important for everyone to learn more about these destructive plant pests, take responsibility for their actions and help us stop the spread of invasive species.
To protect our state, we are asking Pennsylvanians to join us in the battle against invasive plant pests and diseases. Give us a call to learn what you can do.
This April — Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month — we urge everyone to help stop the spread of these harmful pests.
To report a plant pest in Pennsylvania, call the Bad Bug Hotline at 866-253-7189 or email Badbug@pa.gov.
& Dana Rhodes
The writers are, respectively, state plant health director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a state plant regulatory official for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
Saturday, April 29