Muted reaction by ‘pro-family’ groups to family separations
By DAVID CRARY
AP National Writer
Friday, June 22
Even as many religious organizations, from liberal to conservative, denounced the Trump administration’s policy of separating immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border, some major advocacy groups that depict themselves as “pro-family” declined to join in the criticism.
Two of the most influential anti-abortion groups in the U.S. — the National Right to Life Committee and the Susan B. Anthony List — said their focus on abortion is so intense that they avoid wading into other issues.
“We refrain from public comment on immigration and many other topics, including other policies that impact families,” said the SBA List’s president, Marjorie Dannenfelser.
David O’Steen, executive director of National Right to Life, said the organization has its hands full “trying to stop the killing of babies.”
“There are many policies on which we have no stand, for or against,” O’Steen said. “We’re not on either side of this issue.”
He noted that President Donald Trump had fulfilled several campaign promises to anti-abortion groups, including appointing federal judges endorsed by those groups and seeking to curtail government funding to Planned Parenthood.
O’Steen and Dannenfelser commented after their groups’ silence on the separations was criticized in an opinion piece in The New York Times.
“If the traditional pro-life movement is to regain credibility as something other than a tool of the Trump administration, it must speak out clearly and forcefully against harming innocent children as a means of deterring undocumented immigration,” wrote Charles Camosy, a Fordham University professor who is on the board of Democrats for Life of America.
The separation policy was in flux Wednesday as Republicans worked on legislation to address the issue permanently, and Trump signed an executive action to halt the separations.
Ahead of those new developments, two major Christian-oriented advocacy groups — the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family — had issued statements expressing regret that some immigrant families were being separated. But unlike numerous religious groups, they did not assail the Trump administration.
“It’s impossible to feel anything but compassion for these kids, who must be dealing with a great deal of pain and confusion,” wrote Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. “But the origin of that pain and confusion isn’t U.S. law or the Trump administration. That burden lies with their parents who knowingly put them in this position.”
Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, wrote in a blog post that the crisis at the border is “a complex consequence of bad policy, unenforced laws and an inability of politicians to make difficult and often unpopular decisions.”
In his post, he attacked Planned Parenthood — a leading provider of abortions — for its criticism of the separation policy.
“Planned Parenthood permanently separates children from their parents each and every day,” Daly wrote.
The responses of these self-described family-values groups contrasted sharply with the harsh criticism of the policy from many religious organizations, including those with generally conservative outlooks.
“Families are the foundational element of our society, and they must be able to stay together,” said the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo. “Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral.”
Pope Francis, in an interview with Reuters published Wednesday, said he supported DiNardo’s stance.
The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S., is broadly supportive of many Trump administration stances, but it passed a resolution at its recent national meeting saying “family unity” should be a priority of immigration policy.
One of the SBC’s highest-profile leaders, the Rev. Russell Moore, was among eight prominent evangelicals co-signing a letter to Trump on June 1 warning that the family separations could cause “devastating and long-lasting” harm to the affected children.
The Mormon church said it was “deeply troubled” by the separations, depicting them as “aggressive and insensitive.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions was targeted with religious-based criticism after he cited biblical scripture to defend the separation policy.
Addressing “church friends” in a speech, Sessions said: “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes.”
This week, more than 600 members of Sessions’ denomination, the United Methodist Church, signed a letter accusing him of child abuse, immorality and racial discrimination.
Sessions also was criticized Wednesday at the annual meeting of the largest black denomination in the U.S., the National Baptist Convention USA. Its president, the Rev. Jerry Young, said Sessions had taken the biblical passage out of context.
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Airlines and Open Skies, a commentary
Opinion: The Big Three Should Listen to their Passengers, not Gurus
By Brendan Flanagan
America’s Big Three domestic airlines have spent $50 million lobbying against Open Skies agreements in just the last three years. They’ve done this at the advice of a veritable Who’s Who of big-name Washington consultants, many of whom are my fellow Democrats. They would be wiser to listen to their passengers who are telling them every day on social media and in survey after survey that air travel in America is as bad as it has ever been.
Hardly a week goes by before yet another video goes viral of a couple or family being kicked off a flight due to airline overbooking. Dogs have been dying. A guy was stung by a scorpion! And now the FBI has released a chilling warning that sexual assaults during flights are on the rise.
No one in America, it seems, looks forward to flying.
And yet, instead of investing to improve their customers’ experience, the Big Three have bankrolled their quixotic campaign to alter or end Open Skies agreements with other countries. Open Skies agreements between countries are policies that seek to minimize government regulations and insert free-market principles into the airline industry. The Big Three have challenged these agreements with countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
That’s not all. Kevin Mitchell of the Business Travel Coalition writes, “In addition to their $50 million failed lobbying campaign against Gulf Carrier choice, the Big Three also stood shoulder-to-shoulder attempting to block competitive entry by Norwegian Air International and Norwegian UK Limited in ‘their’ U.S.-Europe market.”
Suffice it to say, they don’t welcome competition on international flights; they’d rather protect their bottom line at all costs — even at the expense of their own customers. But as columnist Glenn Reynolds wrote in USA Today, “Protecting American carriers from competition means inflating American prices and reducing consumers’ choices — and airlines incentives to provide good, or even decent, service. (Like the old Bell System, their motto seems to be: ‘We don’t care, because we don’t have to.’)”
The history of free-market competition shows us plainly that when companies compete for customers, costs come down, services improve and customers win.
In June the U.S. government reaffirmed its Open Skies agreements with the UAE and Qatar. American Airlines chairman and chief executive Doug Parker said, “We are very pleased with the result of the talks between the U.S. government, the UAE, and Qatar, and we’re grateful for what the U.S. government was able to accomplish there.”
Nevertheless, there does not appear to be a change in the Big Three’s lobbying disposition toward Open Skies. The real test will be how honorably they accept these agreements and divert their millions of anti-Open Skies lobbying dollars toward enhancing their customers’ experience.
There’s an old cautionary tale in Washington about a dog food company that rolled out a new product. The owner hired the best consultants, the best marketing team, and the best advertising wizards. Everything these gurus told the owner led him to believe he had a winner on his hands. But none of their advice mattered — the dogs just wouldn’t eat the dog food. He should have listened to his customers.
When given the choice between listening to their consultants and listening to their passengers, America’s Big Three airlines should avoid making the same mistake as the hypothetical dog food company.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Brendan Flanagan is a Democratic consultant and a veteran of Obama for America. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.
Airlines to DHS: Don’t use us to transport kids separated from their families
Family Separation: One Fire Out, Several Others Started
If setting fires that need urgent putting out is a conscious tactic to distract attention from all the other bad things the administration wants to do, it’s working.
By Jill Richardson | Jun 27, 2018
Over the past few weeks, the news has been wall-to-wall coverage of immigrant children taken from their parents and mistreated at the hands of the U.S. government.
Obviously, our first priority as a nation must be to end child concentration camps and to reunite immigrant families that were separated — as a federal judge in California recently ordered.
However, while we were all focused on the kids, the rest of the Trump administration and Congress were hard at work on the rest of their agenda.
I don’t know if deliberately setting fires that need urgent putting out is a conscious tactic to distract attention from all of the other bad things they want to do. But if it is, it’s working.
Here’s what else they were doing while we focused on the kids.
Trump signed a resolution to permit dumping mining waste into waterways.
He also overturned an Obama policy to protect oceans and the Great Lakes and said he would open Minnesota’s Superior National Forest to mining.
The House passed a Farm Bill that will take away food stamps from 400,000 households.
The House released a plan to balance the budget by gutting Social Security and Medicare.
If you care about Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, or the environment, these are all issues that require immediate attention. Despite the headway Republicans made in the last week or so toward cutting the social safety net and eliminating environmental protections, it’s not yet a lost cause.
Take the bill cutting food stamps. It’s the House version of the Farm Bill that just passed. It’s not a law yet. Now the Senate will need to pass its own version. Americans who want to save nutrition assistance will have the opportunity to start calling their senator, asking them to oppose the food stamp restrictions in the House bill.
As for the budget that cuts Social Security and Medicare, that’s simply a proposal in the House that hasn’t passed yet. I’m sure you representative would be interested to hear from you if you think this is an awful idea.
This is just another danger of the current administration. We’re constantly distracted not only with inflammatory tweets that have no actual policy implications, but also with real policies that are harming real people like the one separating immigrant children from their parents.
The flood of reporting on the children and the inhumane conditions they’re detained in is necessary and good. The outpouring of anger demanding an end to this is needed.
But the administration is taking advantage of that focus to move bad policies along on many other issues that need public attention. It serves as a way for those in power to keep us focused on the most outrageous events going down while distracted from all of the others.
OtherWords columnist Jill Richardson is the author of Recipe for America: Why Our Food System Is Broken and What We Can Do to Fix It. Distributed by OtherWords.org.
Being Separated From My Child Nearly Destroyed Me
Lives need to come before law, especially when a law is unjust.
By Jeremiah Jaynes | Jun 24, 2018
My daughter Journi is my best friend. She loves to hear me tell the story of her nickname “Bear,” how when she was born she made a little growl instead of crying.
Many years ago, I was separated from Journi while serving a three-month sentence for driving my wife to work on a suspended license. While I was on the inside, I found out that Journi needed a major operation. She was only four years old, and they wouldn’t let me be there for her.
This experience destroyed me. Worse than my own suffering was how much it hurt her that her daddy couldn’t be at her bedside when she woke up — that I wouldn’t be able to hold her hand in her time of need.
So when I see the forced separation of children at the southern border, or families indefinitely jailed just for seeking protection, I don’t just feel heartbroken. I also feel a deep sense of connection — as a father, and as a human being. I understand what it’s like to want to do everything in your power to keep your child safe from harm, but lack the freedom to hug them when they’re in pain or comfort them when they are scared.
Lives need to come before law, especially when a law is unjust.
The administration’s policy of separating families is torture, and Trump’s executive order to incarcerate families together doesn’t solve the crisis he created at all. Putting Bear in prison with me wouldn’t have been right either. Even worse, the order includes no plan to reunite the up to 2,000 children already ripped from their parents arms.
How did any of our families get to this country? I’m a seventh generation resident of Haywood County, North Carolina, and I still live right where I grew up. But my own ancestors were migrants to the mountains all the same.
Many of the families coming to the U.S. right now are fleeing for their lives. They’re not violent or mooching off the system — they’re working to provide a better life for their children. I’ve worked with some of them. One, a dishwasher from Mexico who went home once a year to visit his grandmother, never once fell behind on his work.
He didn’t take my job. He was working a job that nobody else wanted to support his loved ones. I see myself in his dedication to his family. I see myself in his humanity.
Immigrants are human beings. Wherever they come from, families have a right to be together, and to raise their children in a safe and secure world. And children don’t belong in jail, even with their parents, under any circumstances.
Jailing immigrants doesn’t make the rest of us safer. It just puts more money in the pockets of the private prison profiteers who make money off mass incarceration. They profit off kids in cages, just like they profited off me.
We need to come together and end the brutal thinking that investing in more jails or harsher punishments for families just like ours is going to make this situation any better. What we deserve, all of us, is a plan that allows people to safely become a part of our country.
We need to have compassion and empathy for the human beings who are suffering in this crisis. They need to be seen as people, nothing more and nothing less. We need to end the cruel, unnecessary, and traumatizing detention of families.
Jeremiah Jaynes lives in Waynesville, N.C. and is a member of Down Home North Carolina, a multiracial social and economic justice organization in rural North Carolina. Down Home is an affiliate of People’s Action. Distributed by OtherWords.org.
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty at 50 – Awaiting Good Faith
by Robert F. Dodge, MD
50 years ago on July 1, 1968 the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was signed. This landmark nuclear arms control treaty brought the world’s nuclear powers together with the ultimate goal of eliminating nuclear weapons by engaging in good faith efforts toward that end. Unfortunately, there was no enforcement mechanism. The Treaty also had a “grand bargain” that allowed nations to pursue the “peaceful” use of the atom for nuclear power, medical and scientific research.
This bargain resulted in the continued proliferation and development of nuclear weapons programs in North Korea, India, Pakistan and Israel—each of whom went on to develop their own nuclear arsenals, and Iran pursued a nuclear program that was halted by the Iranian nuclear deal, now in jeopardy due to Trump’s unilateral withdrawal.
Ignoring the good faith Article VI of the NPT Treaty, which mandates that the nuclear weapons states dismantle theirs, the US/Russian arms race continued, almost doubling, until the ultimate passage of the Start I Treaty in 1991 after a decade of negotiations. The reductions in nuclear arsenals continued thereafter until the past decade where they have slowed dramatically. Now it’s reversed; a new arms race is under way in direct violation of the intent of the Treaty. There continue to exist approximately 14,455 warheads as of early 2018.
As part of the Treaty a review process was put in place every five years. The NPT treaty was signed into perpetuity in 1995 having been in force for 25 years.
The following year in 1996, climate scientist Alan Robock and atmospheric and oceanic studies professor Brian Toon and their colleagues presented scientific data on the atmospheric and climatic effects of a limited regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan using half of their arsenals representing less than ½ percent of the global nuclear arsenals. It was estimated this limited nuclear war would drop surface temperature 1.3°C across the planet. The effects on the central agricultural growing regions of the major continents would be far greater resulting in a significant shortening of growing seasons. Subsequent studies on global food production by Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and its international affiliate, The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) identified that more than two billion people would be at mortal risk from “nuclear famine” as a result of this catastrophic climate change.
This science was beginning to become clear at the 2010 NPT Review Conference. At that conference, the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), launched by IPPNW in 2007, recognizing the humanitarian consequences of nuclear war and the inertia by the nuclear arms states to move toward nuclear abolition in earnest, pushed for a nuclear weapons convention that would ban nuclear weapons just as every other weapon of mass destruction had been banned before.
From that point forward ICAN helped to spearhead and coordinate the efforts of the non-nuclear nations, civil society and international NGO community in a focused movement to educate on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear war and to develop the political will for a treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons. Three international meetings followed. These occurred in Oslo, Norway in March 2013 with 130 nations represented. Subsequently a meeting was held in Nayarit, Mexico in February 2014 with 146 nations represented, with a third meeting in Vienna, Austria in December 2014 with 158 nations represented. Out of this arose the humanitarian pledge to work toward the complete abolition of nuclear weapons.
This laser-focused effort ultimately resulted in last summer‘s Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) signed by 122 nations. This new treaty prohibits nations from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, transferring, possessing, stockpiling, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, or allowing nuclear weapons to be stationed on their territory. Presently 58 nations have signed the treaty with 10 nations ratifying it. Once ratified by 50 nations the treaty will enter into force. ICAN is now focusing its work on lobbying the necessary nations for Treaty ratification.
Once ratified the TPNW will fill the legal gap in the NPT Treaty necessary to abolish nuclear weapons. In addition to the work of ICAN, there is much that is going on in the United States and around the world to abolish these weapons and prevent their use either by intent, miscalculation or accident.
A rapidly growing coalition of cities, organizations and individuals has supported a call to prevent nuclear war and move back from the brink. More than 150 organizations have endorsed this “Back From The Brink” call upon the United States to lead a global effort to prevent nuclear war by 1) Renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons first, 2) Ending the sole unchecked authority of any U.S. president to launch a nuclear attack, (3) Taking US nuclear weapons off hair trigger alert, (4) Canceling the plan to replace its entire nuclear arsenal with “enhanced” nuclear weapons and, (5) Endorsing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons while actively pursuing a verifiable agreement among nuclear arms states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals. In addition, financial divestment of nuclear weapons is an important piece toward the elimination of these weapons and stigmatizing those companies that manufacture and/or fund their production. An international campaign that is coordinating this effort is at “Don’t Bank On The Bomb” and can be used by anyone to investigate whether they are unknowingly complicit in the continued existence of nuclear weapons.
The NPT will ultimately only be successful when leaders have the political will for change or potentially by the unpredictable impulses of leaders. As the US and Russia hold their “great” summit this month, it is the people of the world held hostage by these weapons who must demand their abolition.
Robert F. Dodge, M.D., serves on the boards of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Beyond War,Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles, and Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions, and writes for PeaceVoice.