Letters to the editor, March 29, 2019

New Zealand; FGM

Politicians we deserve

The Mueller report is done. Get ready for fiery arguments on ‘criminality,’ ‘executive privilege,’ ‘criminal intent,’ ‘legitimate business interests,’ etc. to begin. The cacophony will hide the real depths the country has sunk to be dazzled, apparently, by stock and job market highs fueled by trillion-dollar-a-year deficit spending (no worries — the party of fiscal responsibility is in charge). A good time for a break from the impending ugliness and soothe our souls by looking at New Zealand.

Soothe our souls not with the horrific slaughter of innocents at a place of worship – anyway this country has become largely impervious to mass slaughters no matter how horrific – but by the exemplary display of leadership from New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. We witnessed in Ms. Ardern what true leadership looks like. Her calm demeanor, clarity of purpose, display of heartfelt empathy (not rote “thoughts and prayers”) and, above all, swift substantive action banning all assault-style weapons in New Zealand as a response to this national tragedy, left me in awe.

There is an old saying: A country deserves the politicians it gets. I wonder what New Zealanders are doing that we are not. And what we are doing to deserve our dues.

Sankar Ray


Priorities awry

Our state Legislature just failed to ban the barbaric procedure known as female genital mutilation (FGM). About half the states ban it, but not Washington. The Population Reference Bureau found that half a million U.S. women and girls underwent or were at risk of undergoing FGM.

Congress banned FGM years ago, but a judge recently ruled that only states had the right to regulate it. Stepping up, Sen. Karen Keiser and Rep. Shelley Kloba (both Democrats) sponsored bans in their respective chambers. (Thanks to Issaquah’s state Sen. Mark Mullet for co-sponsoring.) The House bill was significantly better because it made FGM a felony. But neither bill made it a crime for parents to take their daughter out of state or country “on vacation” to get the procedure.

The House version didn’t even get a hearing. A Senate committee passed Keiser’s bill, but the full Senate never put it up for a vote.

What was the Legislature doing on the cutoff day? They passed a bill to create a wine-themed license plate. That’s what many of our state legislators thought was more important than banning FGM. Just let that sink in a while.

Matthew Barry