No room for hate in our state

No room for hate in our state

Gazette Column
This may be what happens when history is hidden or allowed to fall into the trap of selective memory. Cedar Rapids police believe Tigani Mohamaoud could be the victim of a hate crime. The Iowa City resident has been working since 2013 to refurbish a flood-damaged home in Cedar Rapids as for his family. His latest setback to that goal arrived in the form of vandalism and graffiti death threats. “You will be killed here,” reads the text, scrawled with spray paint on interior walls. Someone doesn’t want Mohamaoud, a 2007 Muslim immigrant from Sudan, to feel welcome. The irony is the area, now known as Time Check, is also home to the oldest standing mosque in North America. Within walking distance of Mohamaoud’s property stands what’s now referred to…
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Of bullets, Bibles and bullies

Of bullets, Bibles and bullies

Gazette Column
Nothing I write can return Andrea Farrington to her family and friends. That truth rests like a chunk of lead in my stomach. It has been sitting there all week as details of the cowardly mall shooting and remembrances of the young, vibrant woman are heard and absorbed. Sure, there are lessons to be learned from this tragedy, but they are the same lessons we’ve too often been offered. When does the learning begin? Everything I’ve read and heard from Farrington’s friends in the wake of her murder indicates that the young woman followed “best practices” when dealing with an unstable person and unsolicited interactions. She avoided contact. Farrington reported uncomfortable and threatening instances — and she wasn’t the only one to do so. In short, she did what society…
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Iowa advocates push for police oversight, accountability

Iowa advocates push for police oversight, accountability

Gazette Column
This column would have been less difficult to write earlier in the week, before Baltimore was engulfed in flames. But it wouldn’t have been as important. On the surface, Bob Babcock and Felicia Jones have few similarities. Although they both are residents of the Quad Cities, they represent different generations. Babcock leans on a wealth of hard-earned life experience, and now is of the age when the past often intersects with and gives clarity to the present. Jones still is figuring out the world, testing how she fits and what type of difference she can make. On Saturday, April 25, the two stood together at Rock Island Township Hall, a computer presentation as their backdrop, leading a small but engaged group of Quad Cities residents through possible solutions to what…
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May 2015 be a very gray year

May 2015 be a very gray year

Gazette Column
There may be only one thing, packaged in a million variations, that can get our society back on track. We’ve got to forcibly remove ourselves from the echo chamber in 2015 and once again embrace the art of nuance. Have you ever opened a black and white photo in an editing program and zoomed in on the image? If you have then you already know that what can be perceived as only black and white is actually a spectrum of light to dark. It contains black and white, of course, but also every variation in between. All of the shades are necessary if the viewer is expected to have a full, detailed picture. The same can be said of our lives and how we interact with one another. [caption id="attachment_1529"…
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Iowa can learn from the Missouri tragedy

Iowa can learn from the Missouri tragedy

Gazette Blog
Michael Brown was an 18-year-old black man who died Saturday, gunned down by police outside his apartment complex. He was scheduled to begin classes at Vatterott College today and, according to friends who agreed to interviews, Brown wanted to be a business owner. News of the shooting spread quickly through the Ferguson, Mo. neighborhood. Brown’s body had been left in the street for hours, according to media reports, and photos of the scene were circulated. While there are conjectural stories of a struggle, that perhaps Brown, who was unarmed, tried to take a gun from the officer who ultimately shot him multiple times as he ran. a full investigation is not complete and likely won’t be completed for weeks. Mourning began on social media, rumors were circulated and those local…
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50 shades of ‘True Story’ mags

50 shades of ‘True Story’ mags

Gazette Column
Although I was a bit late to the book club, I did read the 50 Shades trilogy. How could I not when so many were talking about it? I am a voracious reader — often juggling two or three titles at a time. Non-fiction is usually devoured in traditional book form, although a few reference titles are electronic for easy access. Fiction requiring more thought is also read traditionally, as are books by the few authors I want when they hit the shelves. Most everything else — books my Canadian friend appropriately dubbed “brain popcorn” — is on the iPod. I keep costs down by paying a monthly membership to an audiobook service, which is basically a Netflix for audiobooks. You get the idea. I like books. A lot. When…
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Tweeting for #YesAllWomen

Tweeting for #YesAllWomen

Gazette Column
It is a story we’ve heard before: a young person lashes out, innocent people die and society struggles to understand. It is a story we’ve heard so often it feels overwhelming, as if there is nothing a single individual can do to turn the tide of violence. But this weekend, on the social media network called twitter, I and a few million of my female friends took a stand. The latest bit of violence came at the hands of a young man, Elliot Rodger, who was (by all accounts) an incredibly troubled individual. He left behind several videos and written documents, which he dubbed his manifesto. What is immediately clear upon viewing any of these items is that Rodger both desperately wanted and hated women. In fact, I’d go so…
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