Alabama editorial roundup

Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:

Sept. 16

The Anniston (Ala.) Star on University of Alabama must end practice of discrimination by Greeks:

The University of Alabama has an image problem. Actually, it’s the old sore of racial discrimination that’s proven difficult to fully heal. Now is the time to disinfect and close this ugly wound.

The latest problem began last week with a UA student newspaper Crimson White article, “The Final Barrier: 50 years later, segregation still exists.”

The article details how a pair of black students “tried to break what remains an almost impenetrable color barrier” by joining an all-white sorority. “Fifty years after Vivian Malone and James Hood became the first black students to desegregate The University of Alabama, there remains one last bastion of segregation on campus: The UA greek system is still almost completely divided along racial lines.”

What followed was an onslaught of negative press from across the nation. Given the ugly history on the Tuscaloosa campus, it’s an easy storyline for the national media: Alabama won’t tear down those racial barriers that deny African-Americans a seat at the table.

That sentiment, like most stereotypes, may contain a kernel of truth. However, the Crimson White’s reporting shows that the objections to these well-qualified black students came not from current students, but from sorority alumnae. …

Judy Bonner, university president, said last week, “The UA administration is working with our local chapters and their national organizations in order to remove any real or perceived barriers.”

She added, “We’re going to help our young people do the right thing.”

And so the university should.

We are pleased to see reports that Bonner met privately with Panhellenic sorority advisers on Sunday. Take it as a signal that Bonner realizes the negative spotlight won’t leave Tuscaloosa until real and substantial changes are made regarding race and UA’s Greek system.

Of course, this situation is well past the point of gentle encouragement or neatly penned reminder notes left on the pillows of UA’s Greek system. This problem won’t fix itself. Administrators will have to play an active role, applying serious pressure if necessary.



Sept. 13

Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News on some dark chapters must be remembered:

Commemoration of the civil rights movement often dwells too much on what was and not on what has changed. Race relations and the country would be better served if the focus of commemorative efforts were more on what — through struggle, faith and perseverance — has been achieved, rather than how bad life once was for black people in America.

The story of the civil rights movement is the story of battles waged and a war won. Too often, the scabs that are necessary for the healing of the wounds resulting from that war are scratched off for political benefit and the pain of those memories exploited. It is an effective tactic, so it’s repeated over and over again. It impedes the reconciliation that has been too long in coming.

But there are times when we should stare back into a past that is dark and shameful so that we should know it and never forget it. It is strange to think today that a mere half-century ago — living memory for many of us — people were denied the basic rights of citizenship because of their race. Even then, it contradicted laws almost a century old. …

Fifty years ago today, people across the country came to understand just how wrong opposition to the civil rights movement was. In its most extreme form, that opposition was willing to violate a centuries-old right of sanctuary that is universally recognized in the western world. It was willing to kill children. People then understood that truly evil men lived among us.

There was no more powerful symbol in that whole, long struggle than the bomb-damaged church and the lifeless bodies of those four young girls. In many eyes, it transformed a political struggle into an epic battle of good versus evil.

Fifty years later, it is still appropriate to look back into that heart of darkness, feel the clammy hand of evil and remember that “all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”



Sept. 15

Decatur (Ala.) Daily on ‘Obamacare’ would help IP workers:

For many of the 1,100 workers employed at International Paper’s Courtland plant, the overwhelming issue is health care.

They understand they will lose their jobs. IP announced last week it will close the Courtland plant, opened in 1971. The employees are casualties of the transition to a paperless world, and they get that.

The problem for the IP workers is the same problem faced by millions of Americans. Individual health insurance is not affordable, especially in a state like Alabama monopolized by a single health insurance carrier. Accessing health care without insurance is not feasible. The only option for the uninsured is the emergency room, which does little to deal with the chronic conditions that come with age, and which leads to bankruptcy for those forced to use it.

“Obamacare,” once promoted by conservatives as a market-driven alternative to Medicare-for-all, has become a partisan hotspot. Republicans, historically champions of the laborer, feel compelled to condemn the Affordable Care Act.

Even in Alabama, one of the poorest states in the nation, elected representatives vow to do what they can to defeat a law that uses the market to provide health care to all.

Gov. Robert Bentley swears he will do anything to help the IP workers. So do U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks and U.S. Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions. But all four are doing everything in their power to block health-care access to the IP workers who are soon to be unemployed.

It’s time for Congress — especially poverty-stricken Alabama’s representatives — to quit treating the Affordable Care Act as a partisan tug-of-war.

The law is imperfect, but a Congress with a desire to help those without access to adequate health care can fix it. Governors who are more interested in helping their people than undermining the president can help, too.

As 1,100 IP workers soon will discover, America’s health-care system is a mess. The Affordable Care Act is an initial step toward fixing the system, and it deserves bipartisan support.

If they care more about their constituents than about partisan bickering, the elected representatives from Alabama — including Bentley, Brooks, Shelby and Sessions — will do their best to make “Obamacare” work.


Comments are closed.