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Slant 2016-12-01

• Question of the day: Donald Trump or Mike Pence as the next president of the U.S.? If Trump is either impeached or resigns within the next two years, as some writers predict, would Pence be an improvement? Probably. After serving in Congress and as governor of Indiana, he understands our system of government and, presumably, respects it. His political positions are the opposite of ours, but we can vote him out. As one friend pointed out, Pence at least went to Hamilton on Broadway, unlike the president-elect who lives down the street and tweets criticisms about it from his penthouse. And Pence had a civil response, calling it free speech when the multi-racial cast spoke to him from the stage after the show, unlike the president-elect who clearly doesn’t understand the concept of free speech.

• Is your social media feed full of stories about fake news, or just full of fake news? Major media outlets have been delving into the phenomenon of spurious “news stories” that get shared more than actual journalism. As The New York Times points out, shortly after the presidential election, the Oxford English Dictionary crowned its international word of the year — post-truth: “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” NPR found that the completely false story, “FBI Agent Suspected In Hillary Email Leaks Found Dead In Apparent Murder-Suicide,” was shared on Facebook over half a million times. It seems many readers would rather share a story that reinforces their beliefs and call it news than read a piece that challenges their worldview. While NPR’s sources said liberals were harder to fool than Trump supporters, we also see our progressive friends hollering “media blackout” on topics the media is covering in depth — just not with the angle they would have wanted. Good journalism looks at multiple angles of an issue, even if that media outlet has a bias. EW has a progressive slant, but we strive to include viewpoints that challenge our beliefs.

• We wonder how downtown businesses feel about moving Eugene’s mythical City Hall to the EWEB building on the Willamette River. Would that make a downtown still struggling to revive itself into “old town” and push new development to the riverbank? After Register-Guard reporter Christian Hill’s fine investigative piece on City Hall Nov. 27, the R-G has editorialized in favor of using the EWEB building, a proposal Councilor Mike Clark has long championed. We favor looking more closely at the relationships around the building, keeping our City Hall in the center of the city and using the handsome EWEB building for something else. We support reusing an old building, but also need to consider in this age of climate change and the “big one” earthquake ahead whether we should be building hospitals and city halls on the banks of rivers?

• Bravo to the Civil Liberties Defense Center, the little legal nonprofit that could. In the Trumpian age, we more than ever need brave souls who will stand up, fight and legally defend the right to protest. CLDC has travelled to Standing Rock, and rather than complain about the treatment of protesters there, has filed suit. See our story this issue and support their work.

• We couldn’t help but think momentarily of the smallness and impotence of President-elect Donald Trump as friendly volunteers heaped generous servings of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy on our plate at the Nov. 24 Whiteaker Community Dinner. The 28-year-old all-inclusive Thanksgiving tradition restored much of our shattered faith in humanity and the future. Hundreds of volunteers pitched in to serve 1,500 pounds of turkey to more than 2,000 guests, KVAL reported. The soon-to-begin Trump years might be a frightening and mysterious prospect for many, but uplifting gestures of kindness and solidarity surround us nonetheless. The sight of hundreds of strangers dining elbow-to-elbow at long tables that spanned the Whiteaker Head Start School gymnasium a served as a powerful reminder that we’re all in this together.