Letters to the editor, Sept. 21

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

U.S. can’t always say yes to citizenship

To the editor:

In his “America’s Soul” column, T&V, Sept. 14, Steven Sanders put forward the idea that people who are “fleeing oppression, or [for that matter] just seeking a decent life,” have the same right to be here, on that account, as those who came here legally in the past. Mr. Sanders does acknowledge that “…these people and their children [are] not here lawfully,” and “nations need to have policies to accept new citizens,” yet neither acknowledgement counts for much in his column. Both get set aside… largely because America is the “beacon of hope.”

I too think that Mr. Trump’s maybe-desire to send them back to their native land is sleazy, despicable and expected, but I differ from Mr. Sanders undeclared view that there is now a new way, previously unknown, to obtain citizen status here in America: pain, fear suffering and illegal entry. A person’s life in a foreign country — even a brutal life in a brutal country — may be a horror, and it may be a good and relevant reason to consider granting, and then granting, citizenship, but a life in another country is neither a grant nor a right to U.S. citizenship. Living here as a citizen is not a right one can grant oneself. 

America’s heart, the kind of people we are when we are at our best — as Sanders takes pain to over-stress — is the reason Sanders gave for America opening its heart. But that openness, that invitation, inscribed at the base of The Statue of Liberty, hinges on a number of inseparables — without which Emma Lazarus’ poem would have made no sense whatsoever.

One is our economic context, the other is the acceptance of our right to say “No!” — to an open request for citizenship. If we try to construct a policy and a practice while ignoring each, then, like tossing in well-intended useful bike lanes and volumes of T&LC limos, we are likely to make a brutal mess of the life we have had all along — enter Donald Trump!

As a post note: it may help conversation if we acknowledge the place and consequences of low wages and cheap labor then and now. It may help if we acknowledge the role of money, politics and the law. Once fed to children, by way of Dick & Jane, Emma Lazarus’ The New Colossus was never more than a feel-good way for the young to understanding the world that was not their doing.

John M. Giannone, ST

What about the human aggressors?

Re: “Squirrel scratches kid in ST,” T&V, Sept. 14

Squirrels have received negative press recently; and management has advised against feeding them.  In the 40 years I have lived in Stuy Town, I have never heard nor witnessed any aggressive behavior of squirrels toward humans.

I have, however witnessed human aggression toward them and other wildlife. I have seen unleashed dogs chase and kill squirrels. Last week near the Stuy Town Oval I saw a ten or eleven-year-old boy torture and kill a butterfly. Is there so little respect for nature that violence against God’s creatures has become more prevalent? Perhaps if children were taught from a young age to respect wildlife, they would grow into young adults who know it’s not ok to allow a dog to kill; and there would be no need for management to issue policy regarding human interaction with wildlife.

Susan Antini, ST

Squirrels don’t attack

Re: “Squirrel scratches kid in ST,” T&V, Sept. 14

It is a disgrace that people and nature cannot co-exist. We must take care of the planet and the animals.

They have a right to be here as well.

That includes the squirrels. I find it highly unlikely that squirrels are scavenging in garbage cans. They are a vital part of the eco-system. We, as responsible humans, must learn to share. Stop making and spreading false statements.

Robert Paslayan

Editor’s note: The mother of the child who was scratched by the squirrel, Sarah Wamble, reached out to us this week by commenting on the online version of the article, “Squirrel scratches kid in ST.” According to Wamble, her daughter, who’s not even two years old, was not attempting to feed the squirrel when it jumped out of the garbage can, scratching her face. She was playing in the train playground when it happened, and also had been taught to “shoo” the local squirrels when they attempt to get close in hopes of scoring a snack.

Wamble added, “Feeding squirrels should be forbidden period. Not just near a children’s playground, but altogether. Squirrels are wild animals who are fully capable of finding their own food. By feeding them, residents have caused them to rely on humans for food, which disrupts the natural order of things. It has caused them to become fearless and aggressive. They assume all humans are a food source and that is why that squirrel jumped on my daughter.”


2 thoughts on “Letters to the editor, Sept. 21

  1. I agree with the mom, and I completely disagree with Ms. Antini. The squirrels in this place have always been aggressive, because they have always had people feeding them. If you are carrying a shopping bag, they follow you until you scare them away. If you are eating on a bench, they come right up to you.

    I hate when old-timers (and I am one) say things like Ms Antini has said. I don’t think having the squirrels around are bad, but let’s not sugarcoat the facts – they have always been a nuisance because people have always been feeding them. Let them eat off the land, as they are supposed to.

  2. In the more than 50 years I have lived in PCVST I have literally seen tens of thousands of times when squirrels were IN garbage cans “scavenging” for food. So Mr. Paslayan should take his own advice and “Stop making and spreading false statements”.

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