Letters to the Editor: February 28 – March 6, 2019
Xenophobic Language Corrosive to Democracy
A Fairfax resident recently wrote a vile, xenophobic letter to the editor disparaging senate candidate Yasmine Taeb. This type of language is corrosive to our democracy.
Immigrants rights and racial justice brought me into politics a decade ago. Since then, I have worked with the Democratic Party and on campaigns in the Commonwealth as a volunteer — currently serving as the Chair of the Latino Caucus for our State Party — and as a paid staffer, including a cycle as the political director with Saslaw supporter, Congressman Don Beyer in 2014. Because of my work experience and his history of fighting for the immigrant community, I am a strong supporter of Senator Saslaw.
Let’s be clear: this type of language has no place in Virginia. As we are seeing, the Republican Party has come to embrace candidates who otherize entire communities and believe in a racial hierarchy. Unfortunately the vestiges of this dying ideology are still infecting our politics and dividing Virginians. In fact, nearly 1.4 million Virginians voted for notorious xenophobe Corey Stewart during his run for U.S. Senate, and 1.2 million cast their ballot for Ed Gillespie in 2017 after he ran a campaign that sought to appeal to his base through fear-mongering.
The effort by advocacy groups to combat this language is deliberate. We cannot merely focus on overt acts of discrimination; we have to call out the language of bigotry. That’s because dehumanization serves as the foundation for which these elected officials use to pass discriminatory policies. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to know that the last time the author of that hateful letter voted was in the 2016 Republican primary and falsely claimed to live in the district.
Virginians should evaluate candidates based on their connection to the district and understanding of policy, as well as their commitment to show up and do the work on matters of justice. I support Senator Saslaw, but we can all agree to condemn bigotry.
Being an Immigrant Candidate is Not Disqualifying
The letter, “Taeb’s Passion…” [V. Arnakis, February 21-27. 2019], objects to Yasmine Taeb’s candidacy for State Senate in District 35, asserting that, somehow, her being a first-generation American is disqualifying. Fleeing Iran with her family, Yasmine immigrated to the United States as a second-grader.
Both Democratic candidates for our District 35 Senate seat have meritorious attributes. Senator Saslaw has been the Democratic leader in the Virginia Senate for many years, most recently helping to pass the Medicaid expansion. Yasmine Taeb has ably served in senior roles as a human rights lawyer and advocate for over a decade. Yasmine was elected to the Democratic National Committee from Virginia in 2016. She advocates for enlightened policies, including requiring gun owners to purchase liability insurance to help compensate victims.
The News-Press purports to keep its content, “clean, fearless and fair.” Letters espousing bias based on a person’s national origin should be disqualified from publication. I am grateful for the News-Press, but the editors missed on printing that one.
Delighted to See News-Press Keep on Truckin’
I was visiting my daughter in Falls Church on Friday, Feb. 15 and there was your newspaper, still in its wrapper, sitting on her living room table. I’m a newspaper guy, so I couldn’t resist. I had to take it out of the wrapper and look at it. I read through it, found Nicholas Benton’s column to be extremely interesting and brought the newspaper home with me to York, Pennsylvania with the intent of dropping you a line.
As you can see, I move slowly these days, as it is now 10 days since I read Benton’s column, but at least my mind is still working because I hadn’t forgotten about it.
Glad to see you have been able to overcome the Wells Fargos of the world. I doubt if the folks of Falls Church realize what a gem they have coming to their doorsteps once a week.
I was in the newspaper business for almost 40 years, starting as a sophomore in high school when I was asked, by the designated senior, if I would be interested in covering the high school basketball games for the tiny daily Quakertown Free Press. Was I ever. I would even get to travel on the bus with the team to away games, come home, type my story on an old portable typewriter, then, around midnight, wander through the alleys to the back of the Free Press office where I would knock on the back door and a linotype operator would come and I would hand over my story. The next day, there it would be, in print (just as I wrote it, who needed copy editors in those days?) and I would be beaming internally for days.
My original goal was to enter the ministry, but when that didn’t happen, I wandered into the office of The Daily Intelligencer in Doylestown one late summer day in 1968 and found that its only sportswriter had left. I was hired on the spot, and so my full time career began.
It lasted many years. I won many awards and especially proud of some I earned for investigative reporting. I advanced through the ranks, eventually becoming the editor and publisher of the York Dispatch. It all ended very quickly, here in York, after a lengthy expose and trial of a state senator, led to my termination by the national chain I worked for. I never envisioned that, but I had to accept it.
Now I watch sadly, the demise of the printed newspaper all over the country. So I was delighted to see you still publishing and not letting the Wells Fargos of the world shut you down.
Bravo, Nicholas. Keep on truckin’ my friend.
Letters to the Editor may be submitted to [email protected] or via our online form here. Letters should be limited to 350 words and may be edited for content, clarity and length. To view the FCNP’s letter and submission policy, please click here.