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Slant 2017-02-02

Lane County Rallies to protect refugees. Photo: Matt McRae.
Lane County Rallies to protect refugees. Photo: Matt McRae.

EW attended the Sunday, Jan. 29, rally at the federal courthouse downtown, a response to President Trump’s executive order temporarily suspending the U.S. refugee program for those seeking asylum from a list of seven Muslim nations. (Apparently Muslim is no longer a religious designation but a political one, which begs the question about the so-call Christians now in the White House.) Such a protest, which saw estimated crowds of 1,000 or more, is a right and proper democratic response to such xenophobic, unconstitutional nonsense, and it feels good to gather and vent. With all due concern, however, let us not ignore the more frightening development this weekend: the elevation of Breitbart News co-founder and avowed white nationalist Steve Bannon to a permanent position in the National Security Council, and the demotion of intelligence officials such as the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to an invitation-only status. This is a move perfected by Benito Mussolini: create a “shock event” to distract the opposition from a much deeper and more permanent change at the top. And it worked, as seen by the fact that the disastrous installment of Bannon was a story relegated to the bottom of page 4 in the Jan. 30 edition of the The Register-Guard. The breakneck speed at which the Trump circus is moving is so disarming and anxiety inducing that we might miss the fact that we are rapidly going fascist, if we aren’t already there. What’s next?


• The Celebration of Life that packed the huge auditorium of the Willamette Christian Center on Jan. 31 would have made Dr. Edwin Leon Coleman II so proud. Terrific jazz played by his sons Callan Coleman and Edwin Coleman III and other local musicians who were his colleagues. Loving tributes from friends and family, including an unplanned Skype call from his brother in the Philippines. A pervasive story that this was a remarkable man who died at age 84, a retired English professor from the UO, a fine musician, an Air Force veteran, a Duck sports fan and track official, a father who deeply loved his family, and a lifelong fighter for fairness and social justice. The service also quietly celebrated his wife, Charmaine Coleman, who was at his side singing, raising the boys and making life better for so many others. To quote an old friend of the Colemans looking over the mostly white crowd honoring a black man, “He really was the crossroads of Eugene.”


• The dedication to public education in this community is heartening in the face of blasts against it across the country. For instance, good candidates are lining up to fill vacancies on the 4-J school board in the May 16 election. Mary Leighton, well known for her professional leadership of the Network Charter School, is running to succeed Beth Gerot. We hear rumors that Prof. Jerry Rosiek of the UO College of Education will run. He’s known for his opposition to excessive standardized testing. Jennifer Geller’s position will also be open. These are at-large elections for volunteer, thankless, time-sucking jobs that are so critical to our democracy.


• What does it tell us about Oregon that we have one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, and Lane County is one of the worst? Seven percent of our children are not vaccinated for a complex set of reasons, including religion. The City Club of Eugene considered whether this is a public health crisis Jan. 27 with speakers Dr. Pat Luedtke, senior Lane County public health officer; Nurse Practitioner Tricia Schraffner, from Churchill and North Eugene high schools; and Dr. Paul Slovik, expert on risk assessment. “Community immunity” is the key phrase. As Slovik asked, do we have a moral responsibility to ourselves and our community to get vaccinations, including flu shots?


• Good news: Eugene is considering becoming a sanctuary city, despite Trump’s threats to cut federal funding. It’s a no-brainer to not use local power for deporting undocumented immigrants anyway, since local law enforcement is not constitutionally empowered to do the work of federal agencies. Also on the good news front: As the Trump administration poses threats to our national efforts on climate change, the Eugene City Council voted on a resolution saying the city opposes oil-by-rail through and within the city and wants environmental and health assessments done before state, regional or federal agencies approve any new oil transfer and storage permits. Here’s to the hope that as Trump plunges the nation (and the world) into chaos, we promote human rights and environmental sanity at the local level and slowly stem the tide of anger and confusion.