Category Archives: Newspaper Opinion Columns

Opinion Columns originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Aid in Peril and So are We – by Deborah Levine

Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press

When President Trump threatened to cut off $4 billion in foreign aid, the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition emailed how cuts could limit the response to outbreaks of the deadly ebola virus. Concerned, I immediately thought of John Germ, past president of Rotary International, who spoke at Glynn Hodges’ recent Mastermind meeting. Yes, we were inspired by his story of being the first in his family to graduate college. And we were speechless at his stories of navigating outdated military planes on the verge of crashing. We empathized with his struggles to finish college while marrying and having his first child. But it was his dedication to eradicating polio world-wide, his ability to see the challenge as an invitation, that held us in awe.   

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Gun debacle and debate, again – by Deborah Levine

Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press

We all know that after the back-to-back mass shootings this weekend, there will be renewed discussion over gun control and safety. We also know that the debate will probably go nowhere, as usual. Even though many of these massacres are committed using military style weapons, many anti-gun control folks maintain that owning these semi-automatic rifles is a  constitutional right.  Why should law abiding persons be limited because of a few crazies out there.  But given that CBS news reports more mass killings in 2019 than days so far this year. It’s time to re-examine our cultural norms regarding military-style weapons.   

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Talk Show Field Day – by Deborah Levine

(originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press)

Talk Show Field DayThe latest thing in political discourse is a doozie. The liberal “Squad” has become the hate target of the week, revving up the President’s campaign rally in Florida. Charges of racism are flying all over the place after the “Send her back” chant. Thirteen seconds went by as the President sat back and took it all in. While push back was furious with much “racist” name calling applied to Trump. He disavowed those chants the next day and claimed he’d immediately started to talk fast to silence the unruly crowd. Talk show hosts had a field day with that one. The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah inserted a video of Olympic track star Usain Bolt winning a medal in the same time it took before Trump spoke.

Trump basked in the congratulations of a right-wing British commentator known for hateful anti-Muslims and anti-Semitic remarks. But I doubt anyone in the UK or the US was surprised when Trump immediately turned around and ranted about the Squad’s anti-Semitism and racism. Our political warming is producing unprecedented heat waves, stoked by increasingly divisive leadership.

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Diversify into the Future – by Deborah Levine

Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press

“As we gather together at this exploration & celebration of our cultural diversity, let us ask for the blessing of our Creator who has placed us all on this precious planet. Let us give thanks for our shared hope for a future where we can harmonize, not homogenize, the intersection of race, ethnicity, religion, generation, and genders represented in this room.” That’s how I began my invocation prayer for Chattanooga’s Chamber of Commerce Diversify Summit. The luncheon at the Convention Center was packed with every generation, from grey-haired sages to newborn infants with their moms. Attendees represented corporations, small businesses, universities and colleges, nonprofits, networking groups, media, and municipal agencies.

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Abortion and Political Football – by Deborah Levine

(Originally appeared in The Chattanooga Times Free Press)

I hate the idea of abortion. I hate everything about it and I know I have plenty of company. No one has warm fuzzy thoughts about abortion. Whether you’re pro or anti-abortion, the term evokes pain and suffering as well as sorrow and mourning, Abortion has been a political football for as long as I remember, but the game has become more intense than ever.

Abortion was just a whisper in high school back in the sixties when a friend got pregnant at sixteen. She had the baby, dropped out of school, and never returned. It wasn’t an uncommon story since Roe vs. Wade didn’t became law until 1973. Birth control pills weren’t even a whisper because while legal in 1965, it was only for married couples. Unmarried women weren’t allowed to purchase birth control until 1972, another seven years.

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Our Fall Creek Falls Challenge – by Deborah Levine

Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press

Your may think that the cost overrun for the Fall Creek inn is a state budget issue is just a dollars and cents issue. You’re probably annoyed that you’re paying for the extra $11 million with your tax dollars. Those overruns pushed the replacement cost from $29.4 to $40.4 million and pushed the completion date from 2020 to 2021. Was it an accident that increased the damage? Were mistakes made and now you’re stuck paying the bill to clean up the mess? The answer should get your attention, and keep it.

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Call terrorism by its name – by Deborah Levine

It was painful waking up to the terrorism news that suicide bombers in Sri Lanka had targeted hotels and churches during Easter services. Hundreds of people were killed and hundreds more were injured. At first, officials pointed to the perpetrators as a local group of radical Islamists espousing a terrorist ideology. Then they announced that international connections had helped design the attacks. At this point, Sri Lanka shut down online social networks, a move that would limit conspiracy theories, copy cat attempts, and violent revenge attempts. Was the ban prompted by guilt that warnings had been ignored, or by the experience days before in Paris?

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Women, Guns, but No Roses – by Deborah Levine

(Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press)

Years ago, I sat on a bench with a group of women in a neighborhood park watching my toddler play in the sandbox. A young woman sitting next to me and commented on how adorable my sweetie was. No better way to get a young mother talking than that. So after trading a few more comments on my two-year old, I asked her if she lived near the park like me. Her answer startled me, “I’m officially homeless as of 8 am this morning.”

I turned and stared at her. “I called the police to tell them that my boyfriend was threatening me with a gun. They came immediately, but instead of arresting him, they told me to leave the apartment because I was agitating him.” Smiling at my confusion, she showed me a black-and-blue mark on her arm and said, “How do you think I got this?” Then she said that the police advised her she to never go back because they couldn’t guarantee her safety. “It’s my apartment, under my name, I furnished it and pay the rent! I should at least be able to get my clothes. ” I couldn’t think of anything to say as she wandered off muttering, “I need to find a shelter somewhere.”

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Hijacked by Hate – by Deborah Levine

(Originally published as an opinion column for The Chattanooga Times Free Press)

No PR firm could have rocketed the new Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar onto the national scene as quickly as her comments on Israel, Jews, and pay-offs. Congress’ debate on how to censure her use of centuries old stereotypes ended with a general denouncement of hate groups, but she remained front and center. I saw Congress’ official response to Omar’s words as a wishy-washy, no-brainer attempt to avoid a statement regarding Israelis and Palestinians. They should be able to do more than echo the Month Python joke, “Run Away! Run Away!”

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Everything Old is New Again – by Deborah Levine

(Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press)

“I can’t be that old!” I muttered when I saw the latest cover of my Harvard alumni magazine. It commemorated the year 1969, fifty years ago, with the phrase “Time of Turmoil”. The article explains how “The images of that time remain vivid for those who lived through it…” They’re more than vivid for me. The campus turned into Protest Alley and tear gas rose up from the streets. There were Civil Rights marches and demonstrations and students demanding African-American studies. There was a blossoming Women’s Liberation Movement as the women’s college Radcliffe merged with Harvard. Today’s activists use similar strategies of marches, signs, and slogans, but with an internet megaphone.

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