Letters to the Editor

Letters: Paterno’s Saudi Arabia connection; state of emergency was warranted

Paterno’s Saudi Arabia connection

State College and the Penn State community may have been paying too little attention to Saudi Arabia lately. To be sure, the Saudi prince in charge there has been linked to butchering a Washington Post journalist, and some of us followed the plight of the young woman craving a modern education who fled Saudi Arabia fearing her own ritual execution and found sanctuary in Canada. Other Saudi atrocities occur.

Once swimming in oil and therefore an American friend, Saudi Arabia now needs to diversity its economy and, though still a repressive oligarchy, it seeks the help of strategic promoters everywhere. Accordingly, the Saudis noticed that many among the multitudes of Penn State alumni and fans — some of them rich and influential — respond reflexively to one magic name: Paterno.

On Sunday, Jan. 27, at 1 p.m., a program the satirist Harry Shearer produces aired here on WPSU-2 and spent its first segment describing, tongue-in-cheek, Jay Paterno’s current public relations work extolling Saudi Arabia in its tightly controlled media. With an ironic chuckle, Shearer noted the wonderful social climate and investment opportunities Jay Paterno finds there.

Many Penn State people still venerate Jay Paterno’s late father and take an almost proprietary interest in the name that adorns an academic library and a Catholic center hereabouts. Jay is, of course, free to earn an honest wage however he wishes, and wealthy alumni can travel and invest wherever and they want. But they also deserve to know how the name they cherish gets sold.

John Swinton, State College

Democrats didn’t gerrymander House seats

Democrats regained control of the U.S. House on Nov. 7. Since then, conservative and right-libertarian national pundits have worked hard promoting their revisionist views on government and politics. Closer to home, Lowman S. Henry, of Harrisburg’s Lincoln Institute, published an opinion piece on gerrymandering and redistricting reform in Pennsylvania that gives the more widely read columnists a run for their money for distortion and selective omissions of inconvenient facts. Critically, given the target of his concerns, Mr. Lohman does not know the meaning of gerrymander. He describes the 2018 decision of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and the subsequent re-drawing of the Republican-created Congressional district map, as a Democratic re-gerrymandering of Pennsylvania’s House seats.

Gerrymandering is the manipulation of electoral boundaries to favor one party over another. In 2016, Democratic registrations represented more than 49 percent of Pennsylvania voters, Republicans 38 percent, and third parties and Independents 13 percent.

The Republican map gave their party 72 percent of Pennsylvania’s Congressional seats, or 13 wins out of 18 races. Trump won the state with only 48 percent of the 2016 vote. This equates to nine seats. What did the supposed Democratic re-gerrymandering produce? Based on registrations, Democrats would have won 10 seats. They won nine. A child with a tablet and mapping software could have created a gerrymandered map giving Democrats at least 14.

If what Democrats did was gerrymandering, they did it poorly.

Mark Lafer, State College

State of emergency was warranted

Pennsylvanians who don’t understand the need to declare a state of emergency during a period extreme cold, such as last Wednesday and Thursday, need to try to see things from a different point of view. It’s not that Governor Wolf didn’t trust Pennsylvanians to make the best judgment calls on their own, but that he was protecting those who don’t necessarily have the power to stay home if they deem the road unsafe. Many retail workers aren’t given the option to stay home and are often threatened with termination, even if the roads are considered to be unsafe. People living in cities often don’t own their own car and will walk to work. Walking in temperatures as low as they were last week can cause frostbite in under 30 minutes. When making judgment calls that effect people’s health, it is important to realize that not everyone has the same abilities to keep themselves safe.

Rachel Blackburn, State College
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