Editorial Roundup - June 20, 2014

-A A +A

Compiled by The Associated Press

Chattanooga (Tennessee) Times on homeless veterans (June 17):
Fixing the problem of homeless veterans — actually of all homelessness — is much harder than it sounds. Even with sufficient resources, homelessness is problem that keeps coming back if we lose focus. And we have.
Still, in recent weeks we’ve made plans for a new day with a new group of disillusioned, disaffected people — especially the veterans among them.
Why veterans? Because while we hate seeing anyone homeless, down on their luck and high on self-abuse, we especially hate seeing it in someone who has served his or her country. And, frankly, the veterans are easiest to raise empathy and bipartisan support for.
There are thousands of homeless veterans nationwide, and an estimated 150 in Chattanooga.
Fortunately, the nation and Chattanooga is trying again to wage war on homelessness — at least for veterans. President Barack Obama announced a “mayor’s challenge” to make a new offensive in a program Obama began in 2008. Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke in April signed on with a pledge to end chronic homelessness among veterans here by the end of 2015.
The federal Veterans Assistance Supportive Housing voucher program pays for housing through HUD. That program alone has reduced veteran homelessness nationally by nearly 70 percent since 2008, according to department figures.
The key locally is connecting organizations here to do a better job of identifying homeless veterans and get them access to programs. Berke has named a task force that will be headed by council member Chip Henderson and Donna Maddox of the Joe Johnson Mental Health Center. Both are good choices.
If we can succeed with veterans, we can help the rest of the homeless population, as well. And that will save money for all of us.
But money aside, this is simply the right thing to do. It is our moral responsibility, and we have put off acting for far too long.

• • •

The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne on gun lust costing us freedom (June 16):
The other day, it almost seemed plausible that the National Rifle Association had come to its senses.
The association issued a news release denouncing the Open Carry folks in Texas, saying their insistence on displaying semi-automatic weapons in a restaurant was not only unwise but “weird.”
Of course, after the Open Carry people protested, an NRA official hastily announced that the posting had been a mistake.
There have been times and places when people had to be conspicuously armed when they went about their day-to-day activities: areas of Asia and Africa torn by civil or tribal warfare; parts of the American frontier in the 18th and 19th centuries; and jungle settlements when rogue animals with a taste for human flesh are on the prowl nearby.
Future historians will be puzzled why what was once one of the most technologically advanced, enlightened societies in history aspired to ascend to such a high level of everyday wariness.
They will marvel at how virtually unlimited access to and display of firearms was pushed upon a reluctant majority by a relatively tiny group of particularly vocal and politically organized zealots.
They will find it particularly ironic that the unlimited-guns advocates so effectively used the concept of “freedom” to justify their cause.
As the future historians will see — as anyone who lived in one of those other places or times when guns were truly an essential part of daily life could have told us — no one is less free than a man, woman or child who must live in constant fear of death.

• • •

The Dallas Morning News on the influx of immigrants fleeing death (June 11):
The United States faces a pressing new immigration crisis from Central America that defies easy solutions. A flood of undocumented migrants at the South Texas border, including unusually high numbers of unaccompanied minors, stems from an explosion of gang and drug violence across Central America.
Many parents would rather risk taking their children on the dangerous journey through Mexico, or even sending kids alone, than expose them to continued violence, threats and high potential for gang recruitment in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Homicide rates in those three countries were the highest in the world in 2011, according to U.N. data.
Senior White House officials acknowledge the government wasn’t prepared and is resorting to extreme measures to cope with the influx, including housing the kids on military bases for processing into temporary foster care while they await deportation proceedings.
Part of the surge is being fueled by a widely circulated rumor that the United States now allows migrants to enter and stay without penalty. U.S. officials say they’ve launched a media campaign advising Central Americans that the rumor is false. This program needs to be stepped up dramatically.
The gang and drug violence are problems that cannot be solved through standard immigration reform proposals, such as guest-worker programs. Nor can they be addressed with hard-line stances, such as those offered at the Texas GOP convention, to build more walls and redouble border enforcement.
It’s less economic opportunity driving these migrants toward the U.S. and more the fear that, if they stay at home, they could be killed. Yes, beefed-up border security will help U.S. authorities halt undocumented immigrants before they disperse into bigger population centers. But when it comes to families or unaccompanied minors being apprehended, it’s not as simple as busing them back across the border and leaving them to fend for themselves. Placing kids on military bases or in foster care is compassionate, humanitarian assistance, not, as critics assert, a “catch and release” program.
Gangs developed after a heavy buildup of weapons during Central America’s Cold War-era civil wars in the 1980s, followed by mass U.S. deportations of youths whose parents brought them to this country as refugees. Many were recruited on U.S. streets into gangs such as the notorious Maras Salvatrucha, and they simply regrouped in Central America. Then they joined forces with trafficking organizations to profit off Americans’ insatiable appetite for illicit drugs.
The solution will require a longer-term strategy aimed at stabilizing Central American security, creating jobs and improving the quality of life. A hard-line, get-tough approach in this country, as impressive as it might sound at political conventions, is hardly a sufficient disincentive when these migrants compare it with the much meaner streets they face back home.
• • •

San Antonio Express-News on Gov. Rick Perry’s recent remarks (June 13):
Being gay is, according to Gov. Rick Perry, an affliction that can be avoided.
It’s difficult to reach a different conclusion about the governor’s views on gays after a statement in California recently, reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.
His statement followed the Texas GOP’s inclusion of a plank that says Texans should be allowed access to thoroughly discredited reparative therapy. This to cure them of being gay.
Asked in California whether he believed such therapy works, he said, “Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that.”
He added, “I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.”
First, we note his use of the word “lifestyle,” which indicates degrees of choice. And then we see him equating homosexuality — which, honest, really isn’t a “choice” — to alcoholism. So, in Perry’s mind apparently, it is an affliction that not only can be avoided, but should be through sheer willpower, even if there is a genetic disposition.
Here’s the thing. Gay men and lesbians don’t view their sexual orientations as afflictions. If you are gay, it’s just who you are, as heterosexuals are just who they are. There is a good body of evidence validating that.
Did the governor “choose” to be heterosexual? Just a lifestyle choice? And if it’s all a matter of nature, why would he deny who he is by forsaking an accompanying “lifestyle” that harms no one?
The governor is confused on this issue. And suddenly we remember the gaffes that doomed his last presidential venture. He is, it seems obvious, on another such run, though the presidential election isn’t until 2016.
As governor, Perry allegedly represents all Texans, including gay Texans. Essentially calling a good number of constituents disordered doesn’t indicate that Perry believes this. The same thing — representing all the people — applies to presidents.
In any case, the American Psychiatric Association and other key medical groups reject reparative therapy, also known as conversion therapy, because it is damaging and homosexuality isn’t a disorder.
There’s nothing to “cure.”