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Editorial Roundup: Recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers

September 11, 2018

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers:

Texarkana Gazette. Sept. 8, 2018.

All Washington and much of the rest of the country are buzzing over who wrote an explosive opinion piece published this month in The New York Times.

The author is, according to the Times, a senior official in President Donald Trump’s administration. We don’t know as of this writing what that position is or even whether the writer is a man or a woman. That could change by the time this reaches print.

From the safety of this anonymity, the author claims to be part of a “quiet resistance within the administration” that is “protecting” the country from the president’s “erratic behavior.”

Needless to say, President Trump is not happy, and he, as always, took to Twitter to make that clear to all.

“Does the so-called ‘Senior Administration Official’ really exist, or is it just the Failing New York Times with another phony source? If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!” he tweeted last Wednesday.

The guessing game has started, with suspects ranging from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Intelligence Director Dan Coats and even Vice President Mike Pence, all of whom have denied authorship of the piece.

Some on the left are calling this unnamed administration official a hero, almost as if he or she was some sort of James Bond saving the world from President Trump. No doubt that’s how the author sees himself or herself.

In our view, the author is nothing of the kind. This kind of political sabotage can only harm our nation. When you take a job in the White House, you are pledging to support the Constitution and be loyal to the president. He was elected to lead the country, not you or your faithless cohorts. If you can’t do that, resign. Get out. Show some backbone. Of course, that would mean giving up what is likely a prestigious title with nice pay and benefits.

So, what’s next?

Well, this turncoat will be unmasked one day, probably sooner than later. And in today’s society, rather than stepping down in disgrace, he or she will probably go on to a book deal and speaking tour. The fame and fortune will flow in.

And that’s the really sad thing in all of this.

___

Southwest Times Record. Sept. 9, 2018.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and it’s National Suicide Prevention Week.

Suicide is something we can all help to prevent, simply by reaching out with concern to those around us who may be struggling. Suicide can be an uncomfortable thing to talk about, but our region is fortunate to have organizations and people willing to shed light on a dark topic. Saving lives is the goal.

Recent numbers show Sebastian County averaged 16.3 suicides per 100,000 people from 2012-16, while Crawford County averaged 21.1 suicides per 100,000 people, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. In Oklahoma, LeFlore and Sequoyah counties averaged 20.7 and 21.9 suicides per 100,000 people, respectively. (Suicide rates in Arkansas and Oklahoma for 2017 put the states at No. 10 and No. 8, respectively, in the number of suicides per 100,000 population, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.) The numbers don’t take into account people who have suicidal thoughts or are on the verge of doing serious harm to themselves.

Officials at the Five West Crisis Stabilization Unit in Fort Smith say 89 suicidal people were admitted in its first three months of operation. Amber Cervantes, lead therapist at the CSU, says it’s typical to have someone at the facility who is suicidal. Meanwhile, Sebastian County ranked in the top 10 of Arkansas’ 75 counties for drug overdose death and painkiller prescribing rates, just as new research says overdoses should be should be considered in suicide rates.

But it’s not just those in jail or at the local CSU who need help. Mental health can be an issue for anyone, and that includes students at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith. David Stevens, UAFS dean of students, says suicidal thoughts among the student body are far more common at certain times of the school year than others.

In addition to stress or mental issues, Cervantes says drugs and poverty can be a factor in the local suicide rate, as do disorders like depression or anxiety, especially when something in life provokes people who have these disorders. An estimated 19.1 percent of adults in the United States in 2016 had an anxiety disorder, and 6.7 percent had a major depressive episode, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Suicide took nearly 45,000 lives in the United States in 2016, the 10th-leading cause of death in the U.S. that year, according to the National Institute for Mental Health.

Just saying “I’m here for you” can mean the world to someone who is struggling, Cervantes says, adding that people who plan to commit suicide often will not talk about their thoughts, so it’s up to those around them to be diligent in making sure they’re OK.

“People want you to say, ‘Hey, are you OK?’ and address them straight-on,” she said recently. “They don’t want you to tiptoe around it, because they are going to be planning things and thinking, ‘Man, nobody cares enough to just ask me.’”

Cervantes and Stevens both said the Fort Smith region has a lack of mental health professionals who can adequately address people considering suicide. As suicide numbers continue to rise, we hope organizations like the local CSU, Riverview Hope Campus and our local hospitals and guidance centers can continue to provide help and resources for area residents who need it. But it’s also up to us — the friends, co-workers, neighbors and family members — to make sure we stay focused on those around us who may be suffering in silence. Suicide rates are increasing, and until enough people get involved, that will continue.

On Sunday, Sept. 16, at Ben Geren Park, participants will take part in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s River Valley Walk. We applaud local residents who have raised money and are willing to come “Out of the Darkness” for the event, and we hope it does what it aims to do: Shed light on a national crisis that hits home for those of us in the River Valley.

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Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Sept. 11, 2018.

An elderly lady we know, who’s still going strong — a little slow these days, but still strong — has a Pearl Harbor memory. She was just a little girl in south Arkansas, living a rural life, but, at the time, a high-tech one. That is, her family had a radio.

She doesn’t remember the FLASH! She doesn’t remember the announcer. She doesn’t even remember the news mentioning Pearl Harbor that Sunday morning. She only remembers her mother crying. That’s how the Second World War started for her.

This generation had its own wake-up call one Tuesday morning. Subscriber demographics suggest most folks reading the newspaper today are old enough to have their own 9/11 memories. One of ours was of a newsman on TV — maybe Peter Jennings? — wondering aloud whether the terrorists chose the date because of the emergency number Americans call in crisis.

It’s been 17 years since Sept. 11, 2001. In many countries, that might seem like no time at all. Surely the Chinese don’t consider that significant. (They take the long view.) But in this new country, this frontier country, this country that’s always changing, 17 years is a large chunk of our history.

Imagine 17 years after Pearl Harbor. That would have been 1958. An American living in 1941 wouldn’t recognize his country in 1958. What are all these televisions? Can this many people afford their own cars?

In 1941, most planes didn’t use jet engines. By 1958, the Space Race was on.

In 1941, Glenn Miller and The Andrews Sisters were top acts. By 1958, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis brought a new sound--and image.

“How Green Was My Valley” was winning movie awards in 1941. “The Bridge on the River Kwai” was in color by 1958.

A lot changes in this ever-changing country in the time it takes for a newborn to finish high school. Now here we are, as far away from 9/11 as 1958 was from the attack on Pearl Harbor.

But the Axis Powers, and the Soviet Union after that, were a different sort of enemy. They had uniforms. They had capitals. They had leaders who could take responsibility and give orders, who could sign surrender documents. The enemy America faces today has none of those things. He’s elusive as a ghost.

Thanks to America’s military, and our allies, there are fewer such ghosts every day. Has anybody heard from al-Qaida lately? And now that we have a president who doesn’t lead from behind on these matters, the “jayvee” squad of ISIS is on the run, too.

This enemy, however, will never surrender on an aircraft carrier. So pressure must be placed on him continually, no matter what name or acronym he comes up with to describe his version of Islamic terrorism. If there is another option to keep Americans — and not just Americans — safe, we’d love to hear it.

Yes, this is a different war from those of the past, as we remember the past. For by now history has done its usual trick and turned into myth, and we remember even the cruelest war in man’s history, the Second World War, as the good war fought by the greatest generation, when the country was united, all of us supported a dynamic leader who enjoyed the nation’s confidence, and victory inevitably awaited. As usual, memory dims and is replaced by monuments.

The grinding war of the GIs, the helpless feeling that it would never be over no matter what the wartime propaganda said, the dreaded telegrams from the War Department (“We regret to inform you . . .”), all of that is now seen from the perspective of the outcome, not the way it was year after year, blow by bitter blow. We forget the weariness and confusion, the conspiracy theories about how FDR had provoked the Japanese into attacking our unprepared fleet at Pearl Harbor, and the anger at those who had brought all this on us, whether deliberately or through sheer incompetence.

Today, too, many look back nostalgically to an idyllic pre-war time that exists only in their imaginations, and wonder why we have to fight. And the rest of us have to explain.

Every year we get further and further removed from the horror and shock of Sept. 11, 2001. But we must remain vigilant. We simply do not have a choice.

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