Opinion | Susan Knopf: Charity begins at home | SummitDaily.com

Opinion | Susan Knopf: Charity begins at home

I can hardly believe it. The president shuts down the government to leverage an expensive, impractical wall nobody wants. He promised Mexico would pay for it! People talk to me about the president’s abrupt decision to pull troops out of Syria, without any coordination with our allies or his cabinet. It’s as if Summit County folks think I have a magic pen. If I write a column about it, it will make it seem better. I wrote three columns about the divisive Kavanaugh nomination, and couldn’t stop that freight train from ripping through the station.

I think the only information the president reads is on Twitter. The only advisers he truly consults are those on Fox and Twitter. So if you think pulling out of Syria is a mistake (remember Iraq?), let me suggest you tweet the #*&% out of it. MAYBE if the president gets wind of the fact that his tweeting public disagrees, maybe he’ll find a way to retreat from his untenable position and allow our soldiers to finish the job, rather than face another violent iteration of the irrational jihadists who violate their holy Koran with blood lust.

It appears the president is making a concession to the Turks, to allow them to oppress the Kurds, or possibly wipe them out entirely. Some analysts speculate Turkey is contemplating a Kurdish genocide. It’s not far-fetched. Turkey was accused, just this year, of launching chemical attacks on Kurdish civilians.

The Kurds are renewed with a sense of their own cultural power. They have stood beside American soldiers and beaten down a shared enemy, ISIS. They are not going quietly.

Please take a moment and look up Kurdistan on the map. Kurdistan is real. The people speak Kurdish. They have their own literature and history, dating back centuries. Their country was chopped up into bits by the U.S. and other powerful international interests and is sprawled across the borders of Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq. Turkey may out gun the Kurds, but I wouldn’t count the Kurds out. I don’t believe the world will turn its collective back on the people who worked so hard to bring ISIS to heel.

Now if we could just get our own president to heel, to respect the sacrifice of our fallen and irreparably wounded soldiers, perhaps we could heal.

I can hardly believe my ears. People are still yakking about the crooked Clintons and the corrupt Clinton Foundation. For the record, the only people investigating the Clinton Foundation are politically motivated Republicans. The Clinton Foundation published real U.S. income tax returns. Chelsea, Bill and Hillary Clinton received no monetary compensation for reportedly each working upwards of 20 hours per week for the foundation. The Clinton Foundation has the highest Charity Navigator rating, four star. Clinton Foundation programs combat AIDS in Africa, provide job training for women and girls, and educate farmers, and account for 86 percent of funds raised. Administrative and fundraising expenses cost just 13 percent.

The Trump Foundation is corrupt. In a signed stipulation entered in the New York Supreme Court, the Trumps agreed to dissolve the Trump Foundation and the New York Attorney General will supervise the distribution of remaining foundation assets to real charities. The New York A.G. continues the state’s lawsuit seeking restitution of $2.8 million the Trumps illegally distributed to themselves. The lawsuit also seeks to ban the Trumps, Donald, Eric, Don Jr. and Ivanka, from sitting on the board of any New York charity for 10 years.

New York A.G. Barbara Underwood said the official investigation revealed “a shocking pattern of illegality involving the Trump Foundation — including unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing, and much more.” The foundation operated as “little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests,” she said. Trump Foundation funds were used to settle Donald Trump’s business lawsuits and to purchase portraits of Donald Trump now hanging in his properties.

I can hardly believe my eyes. I turn away in anguish at the suffering of those who seek asylum in our country. Border facilities are filling beyond capacity. When my family came to this country about 100 years ago, a cousin sponsored us. Under Trump’s immigration policy, cousins don’t count. You can’t even sponsor your grandparents, just siblings, parents, biological children and a spouse. That’s after you are a citizen. Green card holders are only allowed to sponsor a spouse and children.

My grandparents and their brothers and sisters had no remarkable skills. They sought refuge from Cossacks and those trying to eradicate Jews. Even then, many opposed European immigrants. I can perceive no difference between my grandparents and today’s immigrant from the Middle East and south of our border, both largely uneducated, escaping persecution, violence and seeking economic opportunity in a place with more stability. We fear jihadists will infiltrate the ranks of asylum seekers. In my grandparents’ time we feared communists with the same desire to usurp our government.

Bottom line there has always been hate and fear mongers afraid of the other, and who oppose immigration, those who seek to block entry for hard working souls who just want a safe place to live. No news there. One thing we all know for sure, holding would-be immigrants in tent camps and facilities at costs ranging from $135 to $775 per night per person, costs us more than documenting them and letting them in. These people are not illegal. Changes in our policies have created a “Catch-22” to prevent immigration and the flow of migrant laborers that was permitted in the past.

The fact that our government maintains a closed door policy and blocks journalists from seeing these residential programs in operation is something that should give each and every one us grave concern.

I can hardly believe our good fortune to live in a country where indulgent gift giving is a part of a normal holiday season. Do your part for the environment and corral that wrapping paper and gift boxes and recycle your refuse responsibly. Have a safe and Happy New Year!

Susan Knopf is a Summit County resident. She has won awards from the Associated Press and United Press International for her news reporting.

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