Category Archives: Newspaper Opinion Columns

Opinion Columns originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press.

‘Tis the Season of Love, but the Era of Hate – by Deborah Levine

Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press

This time of year should be all about kindness, generosity, and, of course, love. But there’s precious little love in the air these days. Whether watching the news, looking at Face Book, or checking out Twitter, what we see is the glorification of snark. Insults, meanness, threats, and derogatory language permeate every thread of our society’s fabric. We are at war with each other and love is hard to come by. So I resorted to love expressed in a different era, in a different war.   

I opened the box of love letters that my parents wrote each other during and towards the end of World War II. Dad was a US military officer assigned to interrogate Nazi prisoners of war in Germany. Mom had gone back to her parents in Bermuda to have her baby. Dad didn’t get to see my older brother Joe until he was about one year old. In his seventies, Dad called his letters “just so much love-sick whining”.  But I take heart that in one of the ugliest times in history, love prevailed as did faith in a better future.

Continue reading ‘Tis the Season of Love, but the Era of Hate – by Deborah Levine

Hate: Everything old is new again – by Deborah Levine

Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press

The United Nations designated International Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorated this week, to remember the six million Jewish victims and millions of other victims of the Holocaust. This Day marks the anniversary of the 1945 liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, a set of work-death camps in Nazi-occupied Poland. The hope is to confront hatred and make sure that we do not forget, ignore, or stay silent on the lessons of this history.

Continue reading Hate: Everything old is new again – by Deborah Levine

Ladies Night’s New Decade – by Deborah Levine

It’s 2020 and there’s a lot of buzz about stand-out stories of the last decade. One of my favorites is the proposed replacement of the statue of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest with one of Country Music’s Dolly Parton. The suggestion is a piece of genius! Let’s go from the sombre debate over Forrest’s dark background as a KKK founding member to Dolly, Tennessee’s music icon who makes you want to break out into a chorus of “Rocky Top”.   Who better to represent our state capital than the creator of Dollywood, beloved by the entire country?

Despite her fame, I wonder if Dolly’s name would have come up if it weren’t for the #MeToo movement. Not everyone was charmed by the movement, but it was definitely a cultural shift that changed our culture as well quite a few prominent lives. As it ripped through the internet like wild fire, women came forward with “Enough is Enough” stories of sexual harassment, assault, and misbehavior. Yes, there’s been push back and countersuits, but there are also major strides in women’s roles that go far beyond removing powerful men like Harvey Weinstein from their positions.

Continue reading Ladies Night’s New Decade – by Deborah Levine

Swastikas and nooses: campus hate speech or free speech? – by Deborah Levine

Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press

Never heard of UHBIOC? Think again. The initials stand for Uncivil, Hate and Bias Incidents on Campus (UHBIOC) and rarely a week goes by without an incident on campuses. CNN reported 5 incidents in just one week with swastikas and nooses on campuses in Georgia, Wisconsin, Alabama, New York, and Iowa. Now the big question for colleges is whether swastikas and nooses legally represents hate speech or free speech.

Continue reading Swastikas and nooses: campus hate speech or free speech? – by Deborah Levine

Mother Nature’s daughters are cleaning up – by Deborah Levine

Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press

We all understand the retail exhaustion of this season, but did the driver of a random car passing by have to toss his empty soda can onto my front lawn? And we all know that the cleaner upper isn’t the driver, it’s me. I’m reminded of a road sign featured online that asks the question, “Why are you littering?” We get several choices for an answer: 1) I’m a Jerk, 2) I don’t care about anyone else, 3) Mommy still cleans up after me, and 4) All of the above. So when 16-year old Greta Thunberg became Time Magazine’s Person of the Year,  maybe Mommy Earth sent her kid with a message, one that’s beyond seasonal.

Greta is annoying lots of folks. “Greta, go home & cuddle a teddy. I object to being patronised by a foreign teenager,” is a British complaint on Twitter.  Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro labeled Greta a “brat”. You all know Trump’s reaction. But I wish she’d come to my street and glare at the cars driving by. Maybe there’d be fewer water bottles, candy wrappers, and beer cans on the ground. I fantasize about her when the driver of the car in front of me tosses his cigarette butt out his open window. Bored at the red light, he empties the entire ash tray onto the street before driving off.

Continue reading Mother Nature’s daughters are cleaning up – by Deborah Levine

Reporting and counteracting hate is everybody’s job- by Deborah Levine

Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press 

Reporters haven’t lacked for stories about hate groups and lone wolves whether it’s Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue, Milwaukee’s acid attack on a Latino, Dallas’ shooting of a transgender woman, or El Paso’s Walmart massacre. So I was surprised to see journalist from around the region looking relaxed and hanging out together at an event convened by Chattanooga’s Council Against Hate, Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Lookout, and sponsor BlueCross BlueShield of TN. I expected them to look stoic and even jaded given the thick skins they’ve had to develop. But the passion for their work was awesome and so was their excitement about doing research undercover.

Continue reading Reporting and counteracting hate is everybody’s job- by Deborah Levine

Don’t Underestimate Putin’s Threat – by Deborah Levine

Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press

Ukrainian-born Comedian Yakov Smirnoff jokingly said Russia’s secret police, the KGB, stood for Kiss Goodbye Your Butt. That was decades before another comedian, Volodymyr Zelensky, became Ukraine’s president. But Zelensky knows there’s nothing funny about Russia’s annexation of the eastern part of his country. Fortunately, we have helped guard against further Russian encroachment. So what was Trump thinking in using our aid as a pawn in this political chess game?

The Russians have never been muted in their aggressive global reach. From Vietnam to Cuba, the United States and the former Soviet Union wrestled in a Cold War. As the Soviet Union, Russian invasions included Poland, Ukraine, Latvia and what became the communist republic of Eastern Germany. A relentless dictatorship from czarist times to the present, the number of people who tried to escape Russian rule are legendary.

Continue reading Don’t Underestimate Putin’s Threat – by Deborah Levine

We’re lost in space – by Deborah Levine

(originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press)

What should I write about in these incredibly tumultuous times? It’s impossible to keep up with the Ukraine details. Then there’s asking China to investigate the Bidens when Donald Trump Jr. developed luxury condos in Indonesia with millions in cash from a China-owned construction business. And Reuters reports that Ivanka Trump’s Chinese trademarks include voting machines. How do we handle the just-joking defense, not to mention the bullying, denials, distractions, and denunciations? Despite everything, the reality will emerge. It will become a question of severity. Is this an impeachable offense or inappropriate behavior? My answer is yes to both. So now what?

Continue reading We’re lost in space – by Deborah Levine

All is not lost – by Deborah Levine

Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press

In a month where there seems no end to disasters, scandals, and threats, I celebrated my birthday looking for a ray of hope. Can a whiff of integrity emerge from a whistle blower’s urgent concerns that apparently link our president, the Ukraine, and extortion? Will our faith in leadership mean that floods and fires aren’t our nation’s future.  Maybe, we’ll even have the courage to control mass shootings. Alternating between holding my breath and large noisy sighs, my hubby and I went off to the movies for a bit of escapism. Who knew that the ray of hope would show up with the popcorn.

Continue reading All is not lost – by Deborah Levine

It’s the Environment, Stupid – by Deborah Levine

Originally published as an opinion column in The Chattanooga Times Free Press

The GOP is determined not to be upended by Sharpie Gate.  Presidential primaries in several states have disappeared and the party wants us to know “…The contrast between Mr. Trump and the Democratic field is a demonstration of just how much Mr. Trump understands the American psyche and just how much most Democrats do not.” They know that in this week’s contest for weird news, “Sharpie Gate” might outdo the Taliban-Camp David story, the firing/resignation of John Bolton, the U.S. military’s spending related to Trump’s Ireland golf course, and maybe all the other 12,019 false or misleading presidential statements documented by Fact Checker.

How did this mess escalate so quickly? We began with a silly photo-op when Trump, trying to prove his earlier claim that Dorian put Alabama at risk, produced a map showing the hurricane moving in a sharpie-drawn curve towards Alabama. We progressed to goofy when Twitter erupted with sharpie memes: Trump with 6-pack abs, bone spur feet, and, my favorite, a check from Mexico for ten trillion dollars for the wall.

Continue reading It’s the Environment, Stupid – by Deborah Levine