Let’s face it. Human beings generally prefer familiar environments and people. We seem to be wired that way. Infants smile earliest and most frequently at their mothers’ faces. People often choose to live in areas where people look, think and talk like themselves.

With an innate tendency to seek commonalities with others, people often have to be reminded that those who are different aren’t bad, but rather dissimilar. However, it is rather easy to convince individuals that different is dangerous and encourage hate. It’s been done for ages and when leaders, such as President Trump, take this stance, followers who knew it wasn’t acceptable to show their prejudices recognize that it’s now fine to let their “inner” hate out.

It’s not that we Americans previously haven’t expressed our utter dislike for those of other racial and religious groups. Native Americans were first to receive such treatment. African-Americans had to deal with slavery, inhumane treatment and lynchings. We wanted Asians to build our transcontinental railroads, but we didn’t want them to live here. When many Irish and Italian Catholics and European Jews began arriving, they were not welcome.

Economic stressors often give rise to prejudice and racial and religious hate. There is a fear that “those different people” will take over their work opportunities or social values. It’s what is playing out now and what led to America’s more restrictive immigration laws in the 1920s. The same fears provided a rationale for Hitler’s rise to power after that country’s WWI loss.

Hitler was able to convince millions of good Germans that Germans who were Jewish and who had resided in Germany for hundreds of years suddenly needed to not only be removed from his nation, but from the face of the earth.


He legitimized hate and his followers, who needed an explanation for their problems, accepted his virulent anti-Semitism as the answer.

Even in countries where people’s appearances are similar, there are still differences among groups. It’s how clans and tribes are organized. It might even explain how West Virginia, a state that sees itself as unique, has traditionally had such regionalism that has inhibited statewide growth.

In countries and regions where the population has been homogeneous, acceptance of foreigners varies. Sometimes, small groups of immigrants, who readily adapt to the host groups’ values and cultural norms, are acknowledged neutrally or even positively.

Yet, when masses of immigrants try to enter an established or homogeneous group, problems occur. The newcomers often attempt to continue their own social and cultural disharmonious with their new environment. This is  happening around the world now as millions flee from the Middle East and Africa. 

Most advanced and stable nations recognize that there must be an orderly flow to immigration, but that new ambitious people are often needed to grow a country. It’s how America was formed and many European countries found they needed new immigrants to meet their labor demands.

Immigration isn’t a new problem for our nation. It actually was an issue in 1798 with the Alien and Sedition Acts. It will always be a concern here as there will always be people clamoring to enter our wonderful, but imperfect country.

What we Americans must understand is that when a nation’s leader expresses hate or clear prejudiced opinions of national, ethnic, religious groups or even handicapped people, it legitimatizes hate and permits those who follow the leader to express similar sentiments. How sad it is that our American president has done just that.

[Diane W. Mufson is a retired psychologist who lives with her husband Maury in Huntington, West Virgina. Her email is dwmufson@comcast.net. This article first appeared in the Huntington, WV Herald-Dispatch on January 25, 2018. We have, with permission, occasionally reprinted articles by Mufson which we found to be especially important and worthy of the widest possible distribution.] 



Husbands, ask your wives if they have ever been sexually harassed in the workplace. You may be both surprised and angered. I asked my wife, and here’s the story.

According to my wife, many years ago when she was a young teacher in a Pulaski County, Virginia school system, it appeared that the administration wanted “to get rid of her.” They ran into a problem doing so because they had absolutely no documentation that she had done anything worthy of dismissal. She was called into her principal’s office, apparently for an interview. While she was there, the principal put his feet up on his desk, and as she relayed it, in full view “started pulling at a string in his crotch.”

My wife said she thought it was strange behavior, but she didn’t recognize it as a sexual overture. In her words, “I was clueless!”

I couldn’t imagine a man doing that in the presence of a young lady without it being a power play, sexual harassment and/or intimidation. The fact that my wife was clueless is immaterial to the principal’s behavior. She thought he was simply being “rude.”

This raises a question in my mind about the number of young women who are subjected to inappropriate behavior while not having a clue about what is going on.

I recall taking a job with a church (incidentally, also in Virginia) where rumors had circulated that the church secretary I inherited had an “untoward” relationship with the former pastor. Of course, some wag told me about this pronto lest I fall into her clutches. I laughed about it; but, shortly after moving into the study, I called the secretary in and had a frank discussion with her on the subject. The story, of course, was totally false; but I made it clear that as long as we worked together, there would never be any hint of unsavory intimacy between us. Both of us were embarrassed that this “clearing of the air between us” was made necessary by a disgusting rumor!

As it turned out, she was the most proficient and efficient–no, outstanding–secretary with whom I ever worked. When I left that church, on my last day following about five years of service there, she came into my study, locked the door and gave me a wonderful, loving, warm hug. I asked her why she locked the door. She said, “Well, I didn’t want anyone to walk in and get the wrong impression!”

That secretary, her family and I maintain a long-distance friendship until this day. She has since retired from her job after at least thirty years of faithful service to that congregation.

This essay, full of personal information, is written to point out that women (and perhaps men, for all I know) in all professions are subject to harassment. It is important that we not let the subject slide. In the past few weeks, we have seen important, well-known men in the entertainment industry and government accused by numerous women of gross, indecent behavior.

Finally, and worst of all, we have a president in the White House who has been accused by several women of disgusting, perverted behavior. We have heard from his foul mouth the words of a harasser in the Access Hollywood tape. Let’s take these stories at face value; let’s make this type of disrespect in the workplace a thing of the past!

[Milt Hankins is a theologian, former pastor, author, columnist, and the publisher/editor of Columnist with a  View (www.columnistwithaview.com). You may contact him at the following e-mail address:  amsmilt@windstream. net. You can also send manuscripts or write to him at P.O. Box 913, Ashland, Kentucky 41101.]



In 1979 Jerry Falwell, with thousands of followers, started a new political party in the hopes of presenting candidates with good Christian morals. The issues that attracted followers: anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-school segregation, anti-science teaching, among others. The Moral Majority prided themselves as being pro-family and yet, many in positions of leadership were found to be having affairs or liaisons. So, despite strong evangelical Christian support, the party dissolved late in the 1980s. The people who supported Falwell waited silently for their next hero.

Perhaps they never really got silent but their more recent activities begins to beg the question about the basis of their Christianity.

Look, you know I’m Jewish but I would bet you that I pay more attention at church than cradle Christians whose memorized responses do not require any brain involvement. My Christian husband asked me to attend with him ten years ago and I said I would as long as I was respected. My introduction began at Ascension Episcopal Church in Pueblo where I marveled at the similarities, of course! This was a denomination not far off the Catholic shoot and that church was derived from Judaism. Funny how the symbolism, while morphed a bit, still exits. In West Virginia we attended St. John’s Episcopal Church in Huntington and once again, not only were people respectful, they sought me out at time asking if I would join a study group because they knew my viewpoint, being different, would spark more interesting discussion. And now in Oregon, we attend the McMinnville Cooperative Ministries, a combined church of Lutheran and Methodist congregations.

I listen. I study. I ask questions. And you know what? The teaching of Christ in the churches where I have worshiped seems to be very different from what I see proclaimed by the evangelical Christians who walk a very different pathway:

  • They say they are pro-life but they have no tolerance for children who are hungry or homeless.

  • They proclaim their great patriotism but their pride in our veterans seems to appear only on two days of the year and there is little concern about the number of veterans committing suicide or those that are homeless.

  • They fight against bathrooms being used by people who identify themselves by their chosen gender, not their birth gender, and yet, we have a President who has happy walked in on young women in stages of undress during “his” beautiful contest.

  • They argue against homosexuality and then we find that some of the loudest voices have been arrested for inappropriate behavior in a public place.

Now we have this judge, twice removed from the Alabama Supreme Court who is running to fill the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when he was named Attorney General in this administration. Roy Moore has been accused by several adult women that he inappropriately touched them sexually when they were teenagers and he was in his thirties. One girl was fourteen years old. And this morning, as I was writing this article, another woman has come forward who has announced she, too, was fourteen years old when this man took her innocence.

I’ve read a number of essays that this is not uncommon with evangelical Christian men. They want to have relationship(s) with women that they can mold, women who will not be mature enough to know that a healthy marriage is one based on mutual respect.

While this is also very common in other societies with fundamentalist religions, few more educated communities expect women to be subservient like this. Few educated societies permit children to become married. Fewer still think sex is an appropriate activity for budding adolescents.

As much as this angers me, what bothers me more than the men and women who believe this is a good way of life are the many people who say they will still vote for Roy Moore despite the behavior they don’t like. They will vote for him because he is a Republican. That voting for a Democrat is worse.

Now, before any Democrat starts feeling superior, the same is true in that camp. Here locally we have a woman beginning her campaign for a state house district. Personally, I can’t vote for her because I do not live in her district, but I have gotten to know her and I know she would have my vote if I could. Even though she is a Republican.

There is not much difference between the warring factions in the Middle East killing people because they do not agree on who was Mohammad’s heir and people who are so fixated on the NAME of their political party that they never put any effort into thinking about the person running for office. Or effort working for that party to help make sure it runs honest candidates who WILL represent the common people.

Look at the issues, yes. You don’t like abortion, I understand. But the clinics do more than that….don’t shut your eyes to the good that is done. Don’t be so narrow in your outlook that your hate encompasses good.

Look at the experience the candidate has had to help you understand if they know the important aspects to do the job fairly. It is very clear that Trump meant it when he said he plans to shut several federal departments; his appointments for their secretaries were selected carefully so the mot damage could be done. While many people like the concept of “small government” few people like the idea of letting corporate interests destroy public lands for private enterprise.

Look at their ethics and decide if they are like yours. You don’t rape little girls? Then don’t vote for someone who prefers his meat tender and juicy and well below the age of consent. And yes, “meat” is rude but surely you don’t think what Moore was doing was a meaningful relationship and one you would enjoy?  He did NOT mentor these children; he raped them!

If you vote for someone who admits sexual depredation like Trump, you have something missing in your thinking process…or you also believe women are playthings. If you think the idea of children and non-consenting young women being sexual objects is not healthy, then you need to speak up when an abuser proclaims they want to represent you.

So, simply, I’m holding my “from the outside looking in” card and tell you that these people are not learning the teachings of Christ. Being an imperfect human being I can understand. I can understand that just about all of us have done things that have been unwise. But being proud of reprehensible behavior I can not understand nor support. And anyone supporting it blindly will only continue the deterioration of the American culture.

Yes, that will. Not the immigrants, legal or illegal. Not the LGBTQ community, not the NFL players who kneel to add their silent voices to the protest that people of color do not have the same equal access to the law that is promised.

Nope, those are all part and parcel of this great land with its wonderful Constitution. But the society will continue to circle the drain if all citizens don’t start thinking about how their actions affect everyone. Or lack of action. The time for Monday morning quarterbacking is over. Your choice to act or stay silent is your legacy to this American culture.

[Beth Rankin is a frequent contributor to Columnist with a View. She is gifted with insight, especially with regard to logical thinking, religion, politics and parenting. She shares her thoughts in her blog: goingplaceslivinglife <comment-reply@wordpress.com.> in which this article first appeared. Beth lives with her husband Graham, a retired college professor, in McMinnville, Oregon.]




On August 5, 2012, Wade Michael Page, an Army veteran, killed six people and then himself at a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Almost two years later, a white supremacist killed three at two Jewish centers outside Kansas City. He said “he wanted to kill Jewish people before dying of chronic emphysema.”

On a January 2017 evening, a Quebec City, Canada mosque was the scene of six worshipers who were killed and 19 injured.


Dylann Roof, an admitted white supremacist, murdered nine African Americans at the Emanuel African A.M.E. Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, 2015.

The most recent are this month’s killing of 26 people in the First Baptist Church at Sutherland Springs, Texas.

Truth be told, since nothing (or very little at the most) will be done to tighten our gun control laws and, as gun advocates will continue to argue about the Second Amendment, clearly we cannot stop those who want to commit a horrendous mass killing from obtaining guns. I’m not interested in engaging in this somewhat limited and neglected debate by those who might do something to make a significant difference.

You might have observed that I selected five examples where these horrifying killings took place in houses of worship. As a former pastor, I am inclined to raise this question: Where was God when these innocent, religious folks, who were ostensibly worshiping in a “House of God” were mindlessly assaulted and murdered? If this question has not entered your mind, you have not been thinking through these tragedies.

The wise Solomon reputedly said, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6NIV).

For many years, this was my personal motto. The implication is that God will protect those who trust in him.

If there should be any sort of sanctuary from this kind of behavior, it seems to me it ought to be the church, the temple or the mosque. After all, aren’t these the places where folks go to acknowledge the presence of God in their lives? Folks who believe, as the old song says, “God will take care of you.” I repeat, God will “make your paths straight.” Assuredly, in the sanctuary!


I recall from extensive reading on the Holocaust, on several occasions Nazi SS Troops herded entire communities of Jews into their temples, locked the doors, and set those temples on fire.

Whenever I read about these atrocities, I wonder where God was at the time. I was brought up to believe that God is omnipresent, that God is everywhere. I was brought up to believe that God is omnipotent, that God is all-powerful. Why would a caring, ever-present God not stop such carnage before it began? What was God thinking as he observed the slaughter of the innocents in the Quebec City mosque? Where was God when folks at the Charleston, South Carolina prayer meeting were shot to death point blank?


Was God not present at the Sunday morning worship service in Sutherland Springs where little, crying children were shot in the face ? The pastor of the Sutherland Springs church responded, “I don’t understand, but I know my God does.”

I respect the pastor’s personal faith but, as I see it, he is either tremendously naïve, or he is failing to ask the larger questions.

[Milt Hankins is a theologian, former pastor and author of three books. His e-mail address is: amsmilt@windstream.net. He is the publisher and editor of Columnist with a View (columnistwithaview.com). This article first appeared in the Huntington, WV Herald-Dispatch on Monday, November 13, 2017.]



[The following abstract introduces a research article in SCIENCE ADVANCES by Daniel H. Rothman. The article is complete with over 100 references and notes and all the data needed to evaluate the conclusions presented in the paper. Although the article itself is copyrighted, the abstract which we are reprinting here is in the public domain. Readers who are so inclined are encouraged to subscribe to SCIENCE ADVANCES (advances.sciencemag.org)]


The history of the Earth system is a story of change. Some changes are gradual and benign, but others, especially those associated with catastrophic mass extinction, are relatively abrupt and destructive. What sets one group apart from the other? Here, I hypothesize that perturbations of Earth’s carbon cycle lead to mass extinction if they exceed either a critical rate at long time scales or a critical size at short time scales. By analyzing 31 carbon isotopic events during the past 542 million years, I identify the critical rate with a limit imposed by mass conservation. Identification of the crossover time scale separating fast from slow events then yields the critical size. The modern critical size for the marine carbon cycle is roughly similar to the mass of carbon that human activities will likely have added to the oceans by the year 2100.

[from SCIENCE ADVANCES 20 Sep 1017: Vol. 3, no. 9. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited. Get the latest issue of SCIENCE ADVANCES delivered to your inbox as its published.]



Most of us understand a few basics about health care insurance. First, designing it is complex, not something a committee can put together in a few days. Two, it is desperately needed, as having 40 million people without health insurance in the richest country in the world is just plain wrong. In almost eight years of vociferously objecting to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), frequently called “Obamacare,” Republicans have been unable to devise an acceptable replacement for it.


A while ago, Bloomberg News reported that President Trump was “considering signing an executive order on health insurance that would help give consumers more options…and he would cross party lines to meet with Democrats to get a health care plan that’s even better.” Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who heads the Senate Health Care Committee, said he was “exploring bipartisan ways to shore up the market (insurance) and limit premium increases for next year.”

Recently, Republicans and Democrats have actually worked together on a rational solution. That’s amazing and refreshing, sort of like old times when Congress actually got things done. Senators Alexander and Patty Murray (D-Wash) have, over the past few months, crafted the Alexander-Murray health care bill. Many of their colleagues believe this is a rational health care insurance plan. The Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation estimate this plan could save about $4 billion over a decade.

Our family, like most families, has been impacted by health care insurance. The inability to pay for medical care likely greatly shortened my grandmothers’ lives. However, fine medical care due to good medical insurance from my father’s employer, helped double my mothers life expectancy. Excellent medical care for my father’s heart attack at age 66 saved his life and permitted him to continue working until age 90. When our children graduated from college and took their first jobs, we worried whether their jobs would offer health insurance. Now, ACA takes care of that problem.

Our president, senators and representatives must understand that our nation’s health care is not a political football; real lives are affected. No plan will please everyone or provide everything. Giving the states block grants will significantly hurt some states, including ours.

We cannot afford to provide all medical services to every person in this country without some payment by most individuals. The medically uninsured will still need medical care and others end up paying for it. Many people ask, “Why don’t we have Medicare for all?” The answer is that senior citizens do get a good deal but there is no free lunch.

Those of us on Social Security see how much is deducted from our monthly payments, and know that not only do we pay those charges, based on current income stream, but we also pay deductibles and co-pays. Medicare offers a potential model for health care plans, as do those of other countries, which generally provide some form of universal health care insurance.

Recently, CNN reported that 48 Democrats and 12 Republicans in the Senate were ready to endorse the Alexander-Murray plan. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that he would bring this bipartisan measure to the Senate floor only if he is sure that President Trump will sign it. Being 100 percent sure that President Trump will do anything is not a sure thing.

Health care insurance should be designed to protect everyone’s health while also stabilizing the insurance markets. With true across-the-aisle co-operation, Washington might actually have a pulse and do what is needed to keep America healthy.


[Diane W. Mufson is a retired psychologist who lives with her husband Maury in Huntington, West Virginia. Her email is dwmufson@comcast.net. Ms Mufson is a weekly columnist for the Huntington, WV Herald-Dispatch. The above article first appeared in the Herald-Dispatch editorial page on November 2, 2017.