The Record: Letters, Thursday, Sept. 29
Rahami capture shows
how standards differ
Regarding “Motive a mystery” (Page A-1, Sept. 20):
One reason the image of Ahmad Khan Rahami being wheeled on a stretcher into an ambulance was so striking is that it underscores what the black community has been trying to say for the last few years. Here was someone accused of a terror attack on American soil who shot and wounded two police officers. Yet he was subdued and apprehended and was seen on a stretcher with his eyes wide open.
Alton Sterling in Louisiana was guilty of selling bootleg CDs and DVDs, a crime that carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail and a possible $100,000 fine. His actual sentence was death by firing squad.
In Minnesota, Philando Castile was given the same sentence for a broken brake light. That is a crime that carries a maximum fine of $150 or 15 days in jail. Neither was afforded a trial by jury. Neither was provided a defense attorney. In both cases, the officer in question was judge, jury and executioner, literally.
Meanwhile, Dylann Roof, a white supremacist accused of killing nine people at a church in South Carolina, was taken into custody without incident.
That is what the “Black Lives Matter” movement is about. Justice — more accurately, punishment — is distributed unevenly in this country. Furthermore, anytime a black person is interacting with a police officer, there is a distinct possibility his life could end — even over the smallest indiscretion. That is what we must remind the rest of the country.
The vast majority of the U.S. population (including suspected terrorists and admitted racists) do not live under the same conditions as African-Americans.
Anthony K. Guzman
Teaneck, Sept. 20
Church is not
Regarding “Catholic religion stresses forgiveness” (Your Views, Sept. 20):
I have to respectfully disagree with the letter writer in his opinion that Catholicism is a welcoming religion, and that it is a merciful and forgiving religion that welcomes back all who do wrong, according to the church.
The teacher at Paramus Catholic High School who was fired was in a same-sex marriage. No matter what she does, she will not be allowed to receive the Eucharist, which is central to being Catholic.
The same applies if you don’t follow other church teachings. If you are divorced and remarry, you can’t be a fully practicing Catholic until you receive an annulment.
Sure, the church will welcome you to Mass on Sunday, but remember that it doesn’t consider you eligible for full-time status if your beliefs differ from those of the church.
Wood-Ridge, Sept. 20
Support gives hope
in difficult times
Those close to me know how much I love New Jersey, where I have lived since I was 5. The events of last weekend hit close to home. Literally. The suspect is from the town next door. He has created fear and suspicion in this close-knit community. I am still in shock.
Many American Muslims, including myself, have spent countless hours trying to build better relations with our fellow New Jerseyans with the ultimate goal of earning each other’s trust. From organizing interfaith dialogues to attending vigils and starting soup kitchens, we have worked hard to strengthen the bond that should connect all Americans no matter their race or religion.
But now, due to the actions of a deranged man, it feels like all of that hard work has gone to waste. It feels like in that seemingly never-ending cycle, the Muslim community is once again under a microscope, with every Muslim being looked upon with suspicion.
Locally, it is sad to see some of my own townspeople suggesting that the local mosque needs to be shut down. And nationally, though not surprising, the possible future president of my country is calling for Muslims to be profiled. With attacks against American Muslims, especially women and children, at an all-time high, there is good reason to worry.
But there is also reason to be hopeful. I have always believed that most Americans are good people. I know because I have met many of them. That morning, as the events were unfolding, my non-Muslim neighbors and friends were texting and calling me to offer their support. These are the people who give me hope in these difficult times.
Union, Sept. 20
Regarding “Judge rejects cleanup vote” (Page A-1, Sept. 17):
As a resident of Ringwood, I read the article with great interest.
Judge Ernest Caposela’s decision to reject the cleanup vote was somewhat disappointing, but perhaps understandable regarding the wording of the proposed ballot question on removing 160,000 tons of contamination.
That amount of contaminated soil is staggering to contemplate. So it is no wonder that Ringwood Cares is demanding a solution to a challenging problem. The problem is that the town leadership at the time of the dumping failed the residents of Ringwood in a very big way.
So it is appreciated that Caposela summarized his conclusion with kudos to the people of Ringwood and their awareness, concern and resolve to stand up to their elected officials and make them aware that they don’t have a sleepy, indifferent constituency.
Too often, public officials believe, while not outwardly saying it, that the public does not have the time to challenge their actions. And maybe this is why the administration back in the 1960s and ’70s acted in the irresponsible way it did.
Let us hope the solution to this problem does not bring about more distress or financial burden upon our residents in Ringwood.
Ringwood, Sept. 20
More help needed
to stop suicides
I have read about the alarming rise in the rate of suicide among middle-aged men. Unfortunately, that is not terribly surprising, as there have been innumerable news reports about people taking their lives over the past few years.
Although there are many reasons a person might feel compelled to take his life, here is one troubling scenario:
Take the family breadwinner for 30 years. He has a house, he’s saved money for the kids’ education, has put something away for retirement and then is laid off. He looks for a job for years, but no one will hire him because he is “50-something.” His benefits and savings are long gone and he’s been living off his credit cards, which are now tapped out. He has a million dollars in life insurance but only $75,000 in cash value. Like George Bailey, he is worth more dead than alive.
Although the unemployment rate is improving, there are many people who have given up looking for work and are no longer counted among the unemployed. When people are out of work for years, they need help. One form of help would be extended unemployment benefits, which are sorely needed.
In addition to that, I would like to see a new state program that would especially target the long-term unemployed who have significant life insurance benefits. Using actuarial calculations and a very low interest rate, the state could take an assignment of life insurance policies and pay out either a lump sum or years of annuity payments to the assignor, not unlike the structure of lottery payouts. Something needs to be done to stem the tide of hopelessness.
John Adams Rizzo
Hasbrouck Heights, Sept. 20