It was during World War II when my father and his mother, who had just survived the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, presented themselves in Switzerland to the local authorities. The Swiss government’s policy on refugees was similar to ours now. My father was transported to an orphanage in western Switzerland, while his mother was put to work in the east with threats of being deported.
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For three years, they corresponded only by mail, a great difficulty since my father, then a young child, had no formal education (he eventually became a research scientist at Michigan State University and a member of the National Academy of Sciences).
His early life experiences stayed with him as an adult in the United States. He often talked about the Holocaust and stated in no uncertain terms that the years in Switzerland separated from his mother were the worst. He would have found our policy at the border to be an intolerable horror and advocated strongly against it. I cannot help but feel shame when I consider the fact that our government is inflicting my father’s pain on children today.
Benjamin Kende, West Town
Trump will ‘extinguish the torch’
With his hard-line position on immigration and his travel ban, President Donald Trump has dimmed the torch held by Lady Liberty. With his Supreme Court pick, Trump will extinguish the torch.
Gerald Weisberg, Lake View
There seems to be a truce in whether to rename Balbo Drive after fighter for equal rights Ida B. Wells. The proposal sparked big push-back from Chicago’s Italian community understandably proud of its heritage, disregarding that Italo Balbo headed Italy’s Fascist air force under the disgraced Benito Mussolini during World War II.
Italy’s rich history boasts an endless parade of noble personages admired by the world whose names should spark far more pride for Chicago’s Italians than Balbo. Nobody could argue against names such as Michelangelo, Puccini, Vivaldi, Botticelli, Scarlatti, Corelli, Respighi, da Vinci and scores of others.
Then start over deciding whose name goes where. It would clear the air for everybody’s benefit.
Ted Z. Manuel, Hyde Park
Join me on a tour, Gov. Rauner
Recently, Gov. Bruce Rauner made comments inserting the black community into Illinois’ politics when he said, “I’ve done more for black business, for black economic opportunity, and black education opportunity than anybody.” It is music to my ears to have the debate about the needs of the black community be a subject of discussion in Illinois.
As an African-American Democrat in Illinois, I can’t defend the work of any of the white men who have been governors of Illinois, based on the conditions that black families, majority black schools, and black communities continue to endure in Illinois.
As alarming as Gov. Bruce Rauner’s comments were to some in the black community, his beliefs rightly placed emphasis on the extent of the neglect of African-Americans in the state of Illinois. Now that the discussion is on the table and Gov. Rauner seems to want to express a passion for the concerns of the African-American community, here is a Democrat who is willing to take him at his word and is willing to work with him for a more equal and just Illinois. The governor doesn’t own the total blame for 200 years of Illinois’ social and economic inequities. And, his comments must ignite the black community to be even more engaged and demanding in the political process to improve treatment of black people by their own government.
So, I urge the governor to join me to tour the West Side of Chicago to learn the reality of what it means to be black in Illinois. I will show him that after almost four years of his administration, there is no new public school construction, there is little business growth, and there is not a single construction crane — which signify economic development and vitality in many of Chicago’s neighborhoods, but not on the West Side. I will work with Gov. Rauner until he is no longer governor. The black community cannot afford to wait for the right person or the right time to demand a deliberate, focused and funded plan to deal with the crippling conditions endured by our black families and communities.
La Shawn K. Ford, state representative, 8th District
Thanks, Peter Roskam, for economic time bomb
My congressman, Peter Roskam, has bet his re-election to a seventh term on the gigantic tax cut he helped author and shepherd through Congress. His 2018 campaign is a virtual 24/7 touting of the the simplified tax code returning about $1,400 to an average Sixth District family. But before thanking Roskam with his vote, any constituent should ponder well what will never appear in the Roskam campaign.
The new postcard size 1040 form that Trump kissed in appreciation becomes more complicated for those itemizing from the six new worksheets needed to itemize.
But the big fib about simplification pales to the economic time bomb Roskam has saddled us with. Dropping his career-long railing against excessive debt, Roskam will help spike our debt by $2.3 trillion over the next decade, raising the dept percentage of Gross Domestic Product from the current 78 percent to 100 percent. Domestically, this level of debt increases the likelihood of a fiscal crisis, giving Congress limited options to deal with major events such as another recession. Internationally, debt that staggering imperils our global power and influence by discouraging foreign investors lending us the money needed to fund spiraling debt.
Roskam will never reveal his huge corporate tax cuts are permanent, while the individual cuts go primarily to the already wealthy and expire in 10 years.
Congressman Roskam has spent his years in Congress exploiting a manageable debt to prevent expansion of health care to the needy, rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, or any other societal benefit. But to retain office in what looms as his first truly serious challenge, Roskam has wiped clean the slate of fiscal integrity, embarking on a perilous economic future.
Walt Zlotow, Glen Ellyn