Criticism of Israel and pro-Palestinian rallies shouldn't be called 'hate incidents'

Ald. Debra Silverstein’s push for education in reporting hate incidents is a thinly veiled attempt to censor opposing voices, a reader from Rogers Park writes.

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A man makes a faux bullhorn with his hands by his mouth as a graduate in a purple robe walks nearby.

A counterprotester shouts “boo” at the circle of pro-Palestinian graduates after a walkout of the Northwestern graduation ceremony at the United Center as a form of protest against the university June 9.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

After reading “Tyranny of the Minority: Why American Democracy Reached the Breaking Point” by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, I am more certain that Ald. Debra Silverstein’s push for education in reporting hate incidents is a thinly veiled attempt to censor opposing voices.

Under the guise of being more accurate in the numbers and prevalence of collected data, she widens the range of that which such speech should consist. Her broadened, less-defined classification, I am certain, will include any criticism of the Israeli government’s policies or any support for protesters’ views on the war in Gaza. After all, it was only last month that Silverstein referred to pro-Palestinian flyers posted on her ward office as “hateful flyers.”

Selectivity that allows greater discretion to any protected minority at the expense of ignoring fundamental rights of all undermines not only the principles of democracy but devalues the protection of all victims and diminishes efforts against such hate incidents.

It is not a competition for the most hate speech incidents (“persecution inflation”). The 311 city number should not be weaponized as a silencing tool by Big Brother vigilantes against those with whom they disagree or whose ideas they don’t like.

Honest reports of genuine antisemitic words or actions should be encouraged but not replaced with biased, vague, parochial allegations that devalue true crimes.

Despite many confirmed incidents of antisemitism, we should not conflate reality and perception to use fear as a means to justify authoritarian counter-responses. Feelings of fear are often felt when one is first confronted with inconvenient facts and uncomfortable truths. Hearing voices previously prevented from speaking opens our minds to hear and see an honest reality.

Roberta Motanky, Rogers Park

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Taxing reality

I am confused as to why polls show Donald Trump getting much higher marks than Joe Biden on economic issues.

I attribute a lot of this to taxes being cut under Republicans Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Trump.

Many Americans don’t seem to care the national debt nearly tripled under Reagan, went up over $6 trillion under Bush, and increased $8.2 trillion during Trump’s single term, with most of the tax cuts in each case going to the wealthy and corporations.

These presidents had no intention of dealing with that debt while they spent trillions on defense buildups, wars and national emergencies. Eventually, too much debt causes economic catastrophe, but the desire for tax cuts overrode those concerns.

And now Trump is talking about cutting taxes again. When pushing his tax cut in 2017, he said the GDP would grow by “4, 5, and maybe even 6%, ultimately.” The highest actual growth in GDP under Trump was 3% in 2018, while the increase in the national debt doubled from the previous year.

Just as with climate change and many other issues, Trump takes the easy way out on national debt, pushing the crisis to the distant future. By then, it will likely be too late to rectify his mistakes.

Kevin Coughlin, Evanston

Can’t have an off day, or bad day, running the White House

“I had a bad night.” “I screwed up.” I had a cold.” “I need more sleep.” “No more events after 8 p.m.”

The point I think the White House is missing is the president cannot afford these excuses.

Given a global emergency, or one of our country, these responses would fail miserably. His input and decisions must always be immediate and spot-on.

Barbara Czarnecki, Portage Park

Pension tension

How refreshing to read about the increase in Chicago’s unfunded pension debt.

Of course, Pat Cleary, the Firefighters Union president opined the problem is the city’s and not his job to offer any ideas to resolve the problem. Of course not. His job is to contribute to the problem, not offer solutions. Typical union mentality.

Joe Revane, Lombard

Biden and his failing health are a better option than Trump

Yes, Joe Biden is not fine, but his policies are. When we vote, it is not just for a person but also for the people around him who will help devise his policies and help to implement them.

Compare Biden’s time in office to Donald Trump’s time in office and their plans for what each hopes to accomplish as president. Yes, you have a frail man, not well physically, who will do much good for the American public as contrasted to a mentally ill psychopath who will harm the public as he has done to others throughout his life. As some have said, after the debate and Trump’s performance, which was also pathetic, why didn’t the media also say he, too, is not fit to hold the office of the presidency?

Also, Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt, both ill men in the latter part of their presidency, had at their sides wives who played large roles in accomplishing their objectives. Biden has Jill, an accomplished, intelligent and caring soul, and Trump has Melania, a vapid and self-obsessed soul. Remember when we voted for Barack Obama, who also had his faults, we were also putting into the corridors of power Michelle.

Louis Silverstein, Evanston

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