Thursday, December 7, 2017
The old digits are still stiff from putting the Christmas lights up on the house and from getting used to the cold air that poured into Northwest Arkansas this week. But we can still manage to get the thumbs up, or down, for this week's installation of Thursday thumbs.
[THUMBS UP] Today is Pearl Harbor Day. It's not a day to celebrate. Rather, it's a day to observe, to take notice of 76 years after Japan attacked a U.S. naval base in Hawaii few Americans had paid much attention to before. From that moment, Pearl Harbor became a household name representing the start of U.S. involvement in World War II. To this day, we mourn the deaths of more than 2,400 Americans in the surprise attack. We are far removed from that date that lives in infamy, but it still reminds us of the constant vigilance required of our nation and its place in a world that does not appear to be capable of lasting peace. Be prepared. Pay attention. Appreciate those ready and trained to be warriors on the front lines. And, by all means within reason, work at least as hard to fashion peace as to prepare for war.
[THUMBS UP] Regardless of how one feels about federal policies regarding refugees -- people who are fleeing armed conflict or persecution -- Canopy Northwest Arkansas is deserving of commendation for efforts that have resulted in 55 people resettling in our region to begin building new lives. It is not easy work, but the year-old nonprofit has quietly gone about what's necessary to get refugees settled in reliable housing, to begin learning English and to find jobs. Yes, it's a small drop in the bucket of an estimated 22 million people worldwide who have fled their home countries because of dangers related to their political, religious or ethnic backgrounds. But it's at the very least improving lives for 55 fellow humans, and in some cases, perhaps saving those very lives.
[THUMBS DOWN] Some Arkansas fans met Wednesday's announcement of Chad Morris as the Hogs' new football coach with hesitation. We get it. Morris (and any coach) has some proving to do, but should fans take a "wait-and-see" attitude? Only if they want to accept the label of "fair weather fans." No matter who is hired, some fans will love the decision and others will see it in a negative light. Above all, however, a coaching change creates new opportunities for a successful athletic program. And being a fan is nothing if not about unabashed hope. That's why we tune in to see the Hogs go up against the Rolling Tide, knowing fully the odds are against victory. An athletic program doesn't need "wait and see" from its fans. It can get that from anywhere. What's the upside of wallowing in reservations? Is it to retain the option to later say "I told you so?" When an athletic program hits the reset button, it's time to cheer and pull for the team with reckless abandon and place our hope in a new coaching crew until such time, if it comes, that things don't work out. Arkansas fans have been disappointed, so it's understandable some of them might not be ready to wear their Hog on their sleeves. But that's what fans do. It's time to wipe away yesterday's disappointments and fully embrace the hope that comes with a coaching change. Will it guarantee success? No, but it will make it more likely, and the journey will be more fun.
[THUMBS UP] We're always glad to see a native son of Arkansas do well, so kudos to Gus Malzahn and his agent for parlaying Arkansas' amped-up interest in hiring him into a big-time pay raise to remain at Auburn University. Some in the Arkansas fan base have suffered from Gus lust for years, viewing him as the solution to all the Hogs' ills. Credit the University of Arkansas athletics department for aggressively (at least financially, according to reports) pursuing Malzahn. It had to be tried. The question was asked, and Malzahn answered. He turned the University of Arkansas down. Time to move on.
[THUMBS UP] If you're going to put up a monument on the state Capitol grounds, it makes sense to protect it from an individual's destructive actions. The last monument to the Ten Commandments outside the state Capitol in Little Rock was destroyed a day after its installation by a mentally challenged driver. A new version will go up soon with protective concrete pillars around it. Does this mean the monument should be put up in the first place? No. It's clearly an effort to make a religious statement on the state's behalf, no matter that the costs of construction and placement are born by private donors. But its presence should be either ensured or denied in a court of law based on the U.S. and state constitutions, not by any individual's decision-making. Build it, and they will sue. And let the judicial chips fall where they may.
Commentary on 12/07/2017
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