Letters to the Editor

Refugees, police shootings, asset forfeiture, teachers, religious state, etc.

Syrian refugees arrive on a dinghy after crossing from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos on Wednesday. The head of the European Union said 22 of its member states should be forced to accept another 120,000 people in need of international protection.
Syrian refugees arrive on a dinghy after crossing from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos on Wednesday. The head of the European Union said 22 of its member states should be forced to accept another 120,000 people in need of international protection. The Associated Press

America on sidelines for years

Re “Europe is in crisis, while America sits on sidelines” (Editorials, Sept. 6): American leadership was essential in the post-World War II era and remains so today.

The Bee’s editorial left something out. The editorial board should have mentioned that America has been on the sidelines for the past seven years. Leading from behind has gotten us to this situation. We have withdrawn our leadership from Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, and the refugee crisis is one of the results.

Europe’s leaders are failing the refugee crisis test, as they have failed others. In the former Yugoslavia, Europe was unable to solve a completely European problem. The U.S. walked away from our World War I victory, and the Europeans started the process that led to World War II. We didn’t walk away from the victory of World War II and fixed it so that the Germans and other Europeans would never do it again.

Stephen P. Keller, Rocklin

Shame on us all for refugee crisis

There is enough shame to go around in the existential spectacle of the Syrian diaspora:

Shame on Romania and Hungary for so quickly forgetting the pain of their own diaspora and the shameful role each played in the Holocaust.

Shame on all the Balkan states for their failure to relieve the human suffering so obvious in the emigration of desperate people.

Shame on the European Union for waiting too long to pressure member states to cooperate in relief of this human crisis.

And shame on the rest of the civilized world, including the U.S., for failing to join the few nations that saw the obvious hell if we failed to act.

Whether it reflects a genuine guilt or some less honorable motive, the irony of the country that caused the largest diaspora in modern time making the largest contribution to the solution of the current one is both bitter and sweet.

Donald Walker, Carmichael

Consider debt, then refugees

We are the most generous country in the world, helping groups of legal and illegal immigrants. Now we are asked to consider Syrians and others. Most refugees cannot speak English, don’t completely understand our culture and find it difficult at best to get a job. How do they survive?

Legal groups are eligible for welfare programs paid by the taxpayer. Illegal groups also have available programs paid by the taxpayer. Currently, the U.S. is deep in debt and Congress will soon be discussing raising the debt ceiling again. That means putting the United States deeper in debt.

For our own survival, do we need to consider reducing our debt, which would include being a little less generous?

John Hightower, Orangevale

Board’s rhetoric reaches new low

Re “Rhetoric over police shootings reaches new high” (Editorials, Sept. 6): In a not very well constructed effort to appear impartial, The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board makes its bias clear.

A typical strategy for a weak argument is to set up a false position then rebut it. The board states that an unproven popular narrative is that everyone in the Black Lives Matter movement is inciting violence against police or making their job tougher. No credible source suggests that everyone is inciting violence or anything else.

The editorial presents statistics to prove police shootings are down, but it does not present similar statistics to demonstrate that police shootings of blacks are up.

The editorial goes on to state that we can’t resolve this issue until both sides agree on the facts of the problem. Perhaps the editorial board can begin by taking its own advice by presenting both sides when it cites statistics, and provide context to support its attempt at a thoughtful position.

Tommy Ross, Sacramento

Cop misleads on civil forfeiture

Re “Civil asset forfeiture is key tool” (Forum, Another View, Sept. 6): Police Chief David Bejarano makes multiple misleading claims about Senate Bill 443. The bill would not affect law enforcement’s power to seize property, based on probable cause. Police would still be able to hold seized property in evidence rooms and impound lots until forfeiture proceedings are resolved.

Instead, SB 443 would only allow seized property to be forfeited once its owner has been convicted of any crime. California already requires this for most seizures. Several states, including Montana, Nevada and New Mexico, recently enacted this vital protection of due process.

Moreover, whenever California agencies collaborate with the federal government, SB 443 would first require the federal government to obtain a criminal conviction before proceeding with forfeiture. One investigation found the federal government, in cooperation with California agencies, took nearly $300 million in cash from people never charged with a crime.

Nick Sibilla, Arlington, Va.

Civil asset forfeiture is key loot

A police chief defends the right of officers to commit armed robbery, and nowadays we scarcely flinch.

The police are here to enforce the law, not put criminals out of business by seizing property. The Constitution protects the property rights of everybody, including suspected criminals.

The truth remains that if anybody can have their property seized, everybody is in danger. The police may find the Constitution inconvenient, but they are nonetheless sworn to uphold it.

Gregg Matson, Elk Grove

Civil asset forfeiture insults constitutional values

I am fine with paying for law enforcement. That’s why I pay sales taxes, income tax, gas tax, car license fees and parking tickets. But I am not OK with police, sheriffs and district attorneys taking cash, cars, houses and bank accounts from people without ever having to prove them guilty of a crime. It’s wrong.

And it was a horrifically stupid idea to reward police departments and DAs with a cut of everything they take from property owners. It perverts their priorities – there is no bounty in prosecuting violent crime, which is where I want their attention.

Civil asset forfeiture directly assaults our fundamental American and Constitutional values, and no one defends it except those who profit from it. It should be abolished.

Alessandra Ross, Sacramento

Creativity is part of Common Core

Re “Wrong dialogue on teachers” (Forum, Another View, Sept. 6): I agree with much of Brian Hack’s column about what is wrong with education. For 15 years, I was required to teach from a script for language arts and math. Many schools taught only those two subjects in order to raise test scores due to No Child Left Behind expectations.

I began training for Common Core four years ago. Since that time, my classroom environment has changed completely. Common Core focuses on critical thinking, open-ended questioning and creative problem solving. I now have a room full of engaged students. I urge people to learn the truth about Common Core; it is not No Child Left Behind revisited.

Julie Walters, Orangevale

Huckabee must admire Iran

Re “‘Religious liberty’ looks a lot like intolerance” (Viewpoints, Leonard Pitts Jr., Sept. 6): Mike Huckabee, a presidential candidate, considering Kim Davis’ jailing an attack on religious freedom is technically correct. Unfortunately for Davis and Huckabee, our Founding Fathers were very clear about the separation of church and state.

While Christians may believe this was to protect their freedoms to practice their beliefs, a careful reading of Thomas Jefferson’s writings makes it clear the actual intent of the separation of church and state was to protect the populace from religious tyranny. If Huckabee and Davis believe their religious beliefs are the only true arbiter of justice, they should look to Iran for a clear example of a religious state.

Fred Slaven, West Sacramento