Category Archives: Editorials

Editorial

Do you remember words like ‘yes sir’ and ‘no ma’am’? Do you remember concepts like don’t read or play with your phone at the dinner table? Remember the idea of holding a door open for another person to go through, and then the person who passes through that door might actually take the time to say ‘thank you’? These words and ideas are collectively known as manners.

In a world full of millions of people going in different directions trying to get the things that they want and need, manners are a form of social currency. Manners help you obtain the things that you want as quickly as possible through cursory social interactions.

Let’s say for example, you need to have a legal document signed. In order to get this document signed, you must first present it to a clerk who earns minimum wage while standing on his feet all day long. The better your manners are when you address this clerk, the more likely it is the clerk will feel respected and will aid you in getting the signature you require. However, if you address this clerk with unflattering and abrasive language, I can assure you, the clerk has a number of ways to make certain your signature quest takes far longer than is normally necessary.

There are manners for business, family, high-end restaurants, sports games, great-aunt Millie’s visits, so on and so forth.

I find it striking that it seems one day I woke up in a country to discover that the vast majority of adults suddenly forgot there are manners we are to use when addressing police officers. The results of this amnesia have been horrifying to say the least.

I thought we might review these manners, so that some who have forgotten them might remember, and some parents or grandparents might be inspired to share a few of these manners with the children in their lives.

First off, I’ve always referred to police officers as ‘cops’, and I see nothing disrespectful in using that term in general conversation. However, when speaking to a police officer, the officer should be addressed as ‘officer’. It is a title he or she has earned.

In all your conversations with this officer, speak clearly, directly, and use your best manners.

When you are stopped by a police officer for whatever reason, do not argue with the officer. Sometimes this is a difficult thing to do, but arguing will gain you nothing and may earn you a ticket or an overnight stay in jail.

Follow the officer’s instructions to the letter. If an officer asks you to pat your head and rub your stomach, do it. If at any point you feel your civil rights are violated, you can contact a lawyer later.

If for some reason you do not understand the officer’s instructions, tell him you do not understand the instructions.

Tell the officer what you are planning to do prior to doing it. If you are going to reach into your glove box, either tell the officer are about to reach into your glove box, or better yet ask the officer’s permission to reach into your glove box. If the officer says he does not want you to reach into your glove box, then don’t do it.

If you are stopped in your vehicle, do not under any circumstance get out of your car (unless instructed to do so by the officer). Officers are trained to see this action as a hostile maneuver. If you get out of your vehicle, the very next thing an officer expects to see is a weapon. By getting out of your vehicle, you place yourself in danger from both the officer and oncoming traffic.

When you are stopped in your vehicle, place both hand on your steering wheel where the officer can see them. Passengers should place their empty hands in their laps. These postures will show the officer you have nothing in your hands, and will hopefully put him at ease, so you can get back to whatever it is you would rather be doing as quickly as possible.

Regardless of the outcome of your encounter with the officer, you say, ‘thank you’. This officer just has risked his life to keep you and the community safe. That might mean you just got a ticket – you say, ‘thank you’.

Never antagonize or threaten a police officer or a police dog; both actions can end with you being ticketed or jailed.

Never under any circumstance point ‘finger’ guns, toy guns, BB guns or any other type of gun at an officer regardless of your age or any other qualifier: this action could very well cost your life. Pointing cell phones, pens, wrenches and other objects that in indistinct light could be mistaken for guns at officers could also result in unhappy outcomes. Officers are trained to react very forcefully and swiftly to any weapon attack. Do not give them any reason to think you are in possession of a weapon or have any intention of attacking.

There is no us against them. Police officers represent society, us, and they are dedicated to protecting society, us, against those who would harm hard working, vulnerable and innocent members of society, us.

Some people dislike police officers because they represent authority. I will tell you this about police officers: a police officer will do things for you that no one else in the world will do. A police officer will do things that your best friend will not do.

You can go up to a police officer and say ‘that man just stole my car,’ and the police officer will attempt to get it back for you. You can tell a police officer you are afraid to go into your house, and the police officer will go in and make it safe for you. When you are lying, bleeding on the ground, a police officer will bring you aid and help you find justice. When you run down the street in fear, with nothing but your children in tow, a police officer will protect you from whoever is threatening you.

On the day you need a police officer, you will be ready to invite that officer to Thanksgiving dinner. That officer will have a place on your Christmas card list forever. The position of police officer is not one to be taken lightly in this society, and it is not one to be treated thoughtlessly.

If you choose not to stand behind the emblems of our country because you are angry about the actions of a few police officers, I will defend your right to free speech and freedom of expression to the very last.

But in return, I would ask that you take a long, hard look at the ground upon which you choose to kneel rather than stand. Look long enough and you will see that it is not merely soil and grass, but land soaked with the blood of warriors, officers, and peacemakers. Settlers and emigrants have camped on that land, children of every description have been educated on it, the chains of slavery were broken across it and left there to slowly rust; it echoes the ideals of individual freedoms. It is hallowed ground that should not be walked across carelessly.

 

Stacey Starkey

Editorial

Once when I was a child, a visitor to my great-aunt’s house bent down, looked me in the eyes, and said, “You don’t remember the world before Pearl Harbor do you?”

As I stared at the woman, startled by the question, I saw a mixture of pity and sadness reflected in her face. I have no idea what her world was like before December 7, 1941. But even as a child, I understood there had been a time before Pearl Harbor and a time after.

There was something rhetorical in that question as the event itself took place more than two decades before I was born, and happened even before my parents’ births. To me Pearl Harbor was a historical fact as immutable as the Civil War, the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the fall of Rome. They were all pieces of a past upon which my reality stood.

I grew up with grandparents and great-aunts and great-uncles. Many times I heard ‘”old men” speaking about World War II. Sometimes they would talk about boring islands in the Pacific; other times, they both fascinated and frightened me with stories of firebombing Tokyo or shooting children dressed as German soldiers.

One man told me about trying to rescue men from a sinking ship amid the chaos of the battle of Pearl Harbor. He and his friends desperately tried to pierce the hull of an overturned ship as it slowly sank beneath the water. He said he could hear voices of the men inside even as the ship was lost beneath the oil-slicked waves. His story has always been my mental image of Pearl Harbor.

After a while I realized there was a piece of their story I had not accounted for. There was a ‘time before,’ a ‘time after,’ and the ‘horror of.’ All of the stories of World War II veterans I had the privilege to hear were from the ‘horror of’ – the events sparked by Pearl Harbor and everything that followed until the end of the war.

But the fact remains that I am a product of a different age. For all the stories I have heard and all the newsreels and documentaries I have watched, I can never truly know the horror of World War II. And the ‘time before,’ in great part, eludes me.

On September 11, 2001, we lost nearly 3,000 people and four passenger airplanes in an unprecedented attack. There was a time before, a time after, and the horror of.

Today, America has an entire generation of young people who have no concept of the time before. To them, the 9/11 attacks are a historical fact not unlike the first moon walk, the assassination of President Kennedy or Elvis sightings. For those young people, the horror of that day is limited to the realm of documentaries and fill-in-the-blank history tests.

They are not the ones who lived through the horror. They are not the ones who carry the scars of those endless hours.

They are our children and they look to the future, not the past.

Recently some young people in San Antonio made a commercial in which they built and then demolished Twin Tower replicas made of mattresses for the purpose of promoting a 9/11 sale. Watching the video made me sad for a number of reasons, but the sadness is mine and mine alone.

However, I feel strongly that these young adults do not deserve to be threatened or coerced in any way because of their video. Instead, they deserve, as Americans, to be educated. But, they have a First Amendment right to create their commercial and thousands of good people died to secure that right. I believe we should all honor it.

As a youngster, I watched Abbott and Costello jostle their way through the Navy, and Bugs Bunny impersonate both Hitler and Stalin. Hogan’s Heroes bested the Germans every week, while McHale’s Navy outsmarted the Japanese, and The Producers envisioned springtime for Hitler.

Humor is part of healing and 15 years after the sorrow of 9/11, maybe we should allow the kids a little room to have some fun, even if we don’t think it is funny.

 

Stacey Starkey

Editorial

Dear Readers:

On Saturday, roughly a dozen people claiming to be Christians stood outside the Irving Islamic Center with flags, signs of unkind tidings and firearms, exercising their freedom of speech and assembly. Now one of them has taken the liberty of publishing the names and addresses of people who had the audacity to speak in an open forum during an Irving City Council meeting and exercise their freedom of speech to express an opinion contrary to his.

As a reasoning person who lives in Irving and calls those who worship at the Islamic Center my neighbors and friends, I am appalled and embarrassed. A condition which Irvingites are far too accustomed when it comes to those who are outspoken and uninformed.

Now picture the situation in reverse: a group of Islamic residents assemble outside of one of Irving’s churches on Sunday morning with weapons. How different would the outcome be?

Though I have nothing to do with those who shamed themselves in front of the Islamic Center, I feel compelled to offer my sincere apologies. Someone needs to honestly say, ‘I’m sorry;’ it’s the Christian thing to do.

I’ve only been to the Islamic Center a few times. Each time, I have been treated with respect and courtesy. I can say the same thing for the various temples and churches I have visited across the city.

I don’t live my life in the dark. I am well aware of what happened on 9/11, recently in Paris, and Charlie Hebdo. I was so concerned about the attack on Charlie Hebdo that I sat down with an Imam at the Islamic Center and spoke with him about it. I later wrote an article about our conversation.

Perhaps instead of standing outside the center, the 12 should have gone inside and discussed their feelings, fears and the best ways to move forward given their differing points of view.

Timothy McVeigh was a Christian. I would not wish all Baptists or Nondenominational churches to be judged by McVeigh’s actions any more than all Muslims should be judged by a few twisted individuals.

I truthfully can’t say I know what Jesus would do, but I think He would find solutions that would help bring our community together and minimize the distrust that already exists. And He would do it all while leaving his AK-47 and hunting rifles at home.

Stacey Starkey – Editor

Editorial

Everyday people went out Friday the 13th looking for a little variety and fun throughout Paris: some opted for pizza, some Cambodian food, others headed for a bar, sports fans spent their hard earned money to watch a soccer match between France and Germany, music aficionados listened to the Eagles of Death Metal at the Bataclan Concert Hall. Then a sinister thread pulled them all together.

The world watched as terrorist attacks unfolded across ‘City of Love’ like the plot of a high-octane, summer blockbuster. Unfortunately, 007, Iron Man and the Mod Squad never showed. Ordinary people, first responders and military troops were left to deal with the evil doers and the human tragedy they wrought.

People far from the epicenter of the violence have reacted to the attacks on Paris. Thousands of Facebook profiles now sport images of the French flag or French monuments. Health conscious gun owners took to the Dallas parks trail system the weekend following the attacks sporting automatic weapons and hand guns as the latest in walking leisure attire. Their message to would be terrorists ‘Why don’t you pick on a country that can shoot back?’ or something to that effect.

But one of the greatest things these terrorists threaten to take away from people everywhere is compassion. Just a week ago, people in countries all over the world were willing to open their hearts to refugees fleeing from war torn countries like Syria. Today, those same countries are shutting their doors to Syrian refugees.

As of the writing of this article (Nov. 17), half the governors of the United States have announced their intentions to refuse to resettle Syrian refugees. On the airways, political pundits debate sealing our borders with renewed vigor.

Regardless of your position on immigration, if you allow the actions of a few twisted individuals to harden your heart against those in need, then they have won something beyond the devastation they caused in France. If we cease caring for each other, if they steal away our empathy for those in dire circumstances, the evil of a few has renewed power to reach out and infect millions of other innocent lives.

In an effort to provide our readers an idea of the current status of Syrian refugees who have resettled in the DFW Metroplex, the DFW International Community Alliance provided the following information.
The total number of Syrian refugees currently resettled in the DFW Metroplex area is 102.
Number of refugee families (including single men) is 24.
All but six of those who were resettled by volags (resettlement agencies under contract with the State Department) live in Dallas. Five families live in Fort Worth. One single man lives in Arlington. Three of the families originally resettled in Dallas moved to Richardson.
Eight of the 24 families arrived by ‘other visas’ and applied for Temporary Protected Status, and subsequently applied for political asylum. Three of the 8 political asylee Syrians are families. Four are single men and one is a married man who is waiting for the arrival of his wife and children. One of the single men was studying here on a prestigious Fulbright scholarship. Most of these men were brutally tortured and their homes / businesses burned during their captivity and subsequently fled to Lebanon and from there to the U.S.

Homeland Security’s intensive investigations of each refugee family has caused an unprecedented delay in arrivals. No families have arrived from Turkey (where the largest number of Syrian refugees currently resides) in the past 9 months. One family reached Dallas from Uzbekastan last week. They are a Kurdish Syrian family from the NE of the country. Two months ago the large family of a disabled Syrian reached Fort Worth.
Two families, brothers of a Syrian who lives in Richardson, are scheduled to arrive on Dec. 4. The DFW International Community Alliance is uncertain if the brothers will be permitted to join their relatives on that date.

Do not go blindly forth. Reasonable measures need to be taken, so that all of us remain as safe as possible.

Do not let yourself be a victim of the cowards who attacked the unwary in Paris. Continue to be the same generous and giving person you have always been, assuming you have a generous and giving nature. And be careful to judge people by the content of their characters and not by the accident of their births.

Editorial

Readers:

Recently a 14 year old, MacArthur High School ninth grader, ‎Ahmed Mohamed, built a clock. He was understandably proud of his achievement and took it to school to show it to his teachers. The events which transpired beyond that point rocketed the Irving ISD, the Irving Police Department and the entire city into the international and Internet spotlight.

Despite any innate talents this young man has, Ahmed was only able to build the clock because of the quality education he received through the Irving ISD. By the way, if you can read this, you should thank a teacher.

One discussion I feel is lacking from the general and sometimes high-spirited debates surrounding Ahmed’s situation is the question of who public education, particularly high school education is for. Public schools are open to everyone, however, that does not mean they are the best educational option for everyone.

There comes a point when public schools cannot provide a rich or challenging enough environment for a small percentage of young people who are thinking, working and creating far beyond their peers in a certain area.

Often the parents of these students find themselves challenged to consider homeschooling, specialized boarding schools, early college, tutors, charter schools or some combination of those. Most colleges are understandably reluctant to place a 14 year old child in classrooms with adults. It can be daunting for parents to find the right educational placement for a child who no longer ‘fits’ in public school.

The Irving public school system has not failed Ahmed. Public schools taught Ahmed and fostered his curiosity until something exciting and rare happened. Thanks in part to the care and education he received from the Irving ISD, Ahmed stepped out of the box and beyond expectations.

Luckily for Ahmed, he lives in a time and a community with many educational alternatives. With his parents’ help, this young man will likely find a program suited to his current needs.

Editor

Stacey Starkey

Shots ring out through Dallas signaling America’s true Nightmare on Elm Street

Streets along downtown Dallas were lined with crowds hoping to catch a glimpse of the President and First Lady. On that Friday, more than one youngster was missing school and more than a few employees were already concocting excuses as to why their lunch hour had run long, but really, how many chances do you get to see the President?

Traveling in the second car of the Presidential procession, Texas Governor John Connally and, his wife, Nellie, were riding with President and Jackie Kennedy in a 1961 Lincoln Continental convertible. As the car passed through Dealey Plaza along Elm Street, shots rang out from the Texas School Book Depository at 12:30 p.m. America was forever changed.

In the hours and days that followed, Irving residents were found to have connections in one way or another with the assassination. A bedroom community adjacent to the larger city, Irving was home to those whose work brought them into the sphere of events either by trying to save the President’s life, through the ensuing investigation. Many of Irvingites who found themselves at the center of one of history’s darkest crimes were thrown there because of their kindness and generosity of spirit in reaching out to a young, struggling family.

A former Marine and a 24-year-old father of two girls, No one really knows why Lee Harvey Oswald choose to hide in wait and commit murder. Whatever he gained from his betrayal of his country, he did not enjoy it for long. On Nov. 24, as he was being moved from Dallas Police Headquarters to the Dallas County Jail Oswald was shot and killed by Jack Ruby.

If Oswald was hoping to gain respect, he failed completely. His act has spawned hundreds of conspiracy theories: some carefully thought out and documented, some just flat-out crazy. All of the theories are solidly based on the idea that Oswald was roundly incapable of handling the job on his own.

Shortly after President Kennedy was declared dead at 1 p.m. on Nov. 22, Lyndon Baines Johnson took the Presidential Oath of Office aboard Air Force One 2:38 p.m. as it sat on the ground at Love Field. President Johnson is the only president to have taken his oath of office on Texas soil.

The shots that rang out at 12:30 p.m. Nov. 22 changed America, they did not define her. Before that fateful moment America’s visage was very much like her President, young, energetic and full of promise for the future. Afterwards, America showed a different face, determined, unbowed, unstoppable even in the face of universal grief. No matter how important, how beloved, how visionary, or how devastating the loss, ultimately America is greater than any one person, and we will carry on.

“Behold here cometh the dreamer… Let us slay him… And we shall see what will become of his dreams.”

Genesis 37: 19-20

 

An unscientific word of caution

The words I would use to describe the ANIMAL INSIDE OUT exhibit include striking, extremely interesting, cool (yes, cool), and (dare I say?) disturbing. There, now you know what an unscientific amoeba I have been all along.
I feel a little disingenuous giving you all the good news about the ANIMAL INSIDE OUT without giving you a word of caution. I don’t want to be glib, but honestly this exhibit is more breath catching than most Hollywood films, and yet would be a welcomed addition to any haunted house.
There is something particularly disconcerting about being face to face with a shark or any other large predator that would gladly have me for dinner. This understandable response is simple human instinct. But there is something else at play as well.
For thousands of years we humans have domesticated animals and relied on them for survival. Now, through the wonders of science, an exhibit brings you within inches of a dissected baby camel seeking your affections, a skinless kitten rolling about, and the circulatory system of a rabbit on high alert for intruders. Not simply one or two of our ‘furry friends,’ but a room full, set up and on display for our education and entertainment. I think to fail to feel some sense of sadness or pity might make us less than human.
So amongst the glowing reviews of a fascinating and often beautiful exhibit, I want you, my readers, to be warned: this rose has its thorns. We are indeed lucky to have such a world class exhibit so close at hand. Just know visiting it might be a bit hard on those with gentle hearts.