News » The Week That Was

Brutal terrorist attack inspires rejection of those fleeing brutal terrorists

Also, getting RAD wrong, no to a nativity scene and race at the University of Arkansas, by the numbers.


Quote of the Week:

"We are not in a war of civilizations, because these assassins don't represent one. We are in a war against jihadist terrorism, which threatens the entire world."

— French President Francois Hollande, addressing a joint session of France's parliament on Monday.

Brutal terrorist attack inspires rejection of those fleeing brutal terrorists

As of Tuesday morning, 27 governors (all Republican but one) had issued statements opposing allowing Syrian refugees into their states. One of the first was Arkansas's Asa Hutchinson. "Many of the Syrian refugees are fleeing violence in their own country, but Europe, Asia or Africa are logically the best places for resettlement or for temporary asylum," the governor said. "[It] is not the right strategy for the United States to become a permanent place of relocation."

Never mind the fact that the millions streaming out of Syria are the classic picture of huddled masses desperate for relief from both religious persecution (at the hands of Islamic State fanatics) and a repressive regime (under a Syrian government hungry for young men to force into military service). Never mind that the U.S., by destabilizing Iraq a decade ago, inadvertently set the stage for much of the chaos in neighboring Syria, or that the U.S. historically has taken in hundreds of thousands of refugees escaping war-torn regions from Vietnam to Yugoslavia. The fear sown by the attacks in Paris is doing just what it was intended to do: drive a deeper wedge between the West and the Islamic world.

Depressing as Hutchinson's stance may be, it doesn't go far enough for some. For the truly dark stuff, turn once again to state Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway), who has kept up a stream of hate speech against Islam on social media since last Friday's atrocity. "I urge every American citizen to write @BarackObama & demand he STOP all plans to accept muslims into our nation. #terrorism," he tweeted.

Getting RAD wrong

A group of 19 professors of psychology and social work from around the nation sent a letter last week to ABC, complaining of the network's inaccurate depiction of reactive attachment disorder, or RAD, in its October "20/20" special on the Justin Harris rehoming.

RAD is a rare condition in which children have difficulty forming bonds with their caregivers, but it's often misunderstood as being defined by violence and aggression. Some fringe "therapists" recommend harsh, punitive "treatments" for kids who supposedly have RAD. (In the Harris case, Justin and Marsha Harris claimed their adopted daughters had "undiagnosed RAD.") But mainstream psychology flatly rejects such methods.

The psychologists objected to a video on ABC's website that accompanied the "20/20" story. Jean Mercer, a professor emerita of psychology at Stockton University in New Jersey who drafted the letter, wrote that "the content of this video supports a common misunderstanding that, among other things, can cause people to fear and reject children who have histories of abuse or abandonment, or can lead the children's caregivers to seek 'fringe' treatments that may cause real harm."

No to nativity scene

A federal judge last week ruled in favor of plaintiffs challenging the constitutionality of a Nativity scene displayed during the holidays on the Baxter County courthouse lawn. Mountain Home resident Dessa Blackthorn, aided by the American Humanist Association, sued the county after a local judge refused to allow the hanging of a banner that noted the observance of the winter solstice. The precedent is as clear in Baxter County as it is at the state Capitol or any other public property: Either the government must open its grounds to displays of different religious viewpoints, or have no religious displays at all.

Race at the University of Arkansas, by the numbers

With the turmoil at the University of Missouri drawing more attention to racial disparities on American college campuses, students at Arkansas's flagship public university are joining the movement. How does the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville compare when it comes to race?

1,334 - African-American student enrollment at UA-Fayetteville this fall, out of 26,754 students total, or 4.98 percent.

35 - African-American full- or part-time instructional faculty, out of 1,320 faculty total, or 2.65 percent.

210 - African-American nonfaculty staff members, out of 3,169 total, or 6.62 percent.

15.6 percent - The proportion of Arkansas's population that is black, as of 2014.

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