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Editorial roundup: Collected thoughts from around the nation
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Editorial Roundup

Editorial roundup: Collected thoughts from around the nation

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In the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, the words were ubiquitous. “Defund the police” became the clarion call for Americans sickened by the indifference toward decades of police abuse meted out against people of color in our nation’s cities.

The phrase has come to mean different things to different people. To some activists, it means dismantling police departments. A more widely accepted interpretation has been a measured rollback in spending on police, plus reallocation of those saved taxpayer dollars toward alternative approaches to the root causes of urban violence — everything from ramp-ups in mental health services to job training.

Calls to defund police swept through most major American cities. More than a year later, the movement has lost traction. “In cities across America, police departments are getting their money back,” The New York Times recently reported.

Cities are realizing that while real, lasting police reform can and must happen, the last thing violence-wracked neighborhoods need is a diminishing of police resources.

George Floyd’s murder cast a desperately needed spotlight on the need for police reform and on deep-seated racism in American society. It’s easy to understand why the call to defund police took hold so viscerally. But the idea can only do much more harm than good — and it’s reassuring to see cities embracing that realization.

— Chicago Tribune

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Republican politicians once defended a “hands-off” approach to local government and entrepreneurship. Local governmental units like school boards knew how best to educate and protect local kids without meddling from distant capitals, went the thinking — just as private businesses knew best how to make their own workplace policies.

That’s apparently out the window with today’s GOP in places like Missouri, where Attorney General Eric Schmitt is suing school districts to prohibit mask mandates, and Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott has decreed that businesses may not impose vaccination requirements on their employees.

As if to pile on even more hypocrisy, Schmitt, Abbott and other Republicans are lambasting the Biden administration’s call for vaccine mandates as an infringement on — you guessed it — the autonomy of local governments and businesses. Do they even hear themselves?

Abbott may end up performing an unintentional service to sanity here: His order sets up a collision course between state and federal vaccination policies — with at least two Texas-based major airlines, American and Southwest, announcing they will adhere to federal vaccine requirements in defiance of Abbott. Good. This battle is one that has to happen. But heaven help America if the Abbotts and Schmitts of the world win.

— St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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We all know gerrymandering is baked into our politics, but when that process goes so far that it begins to undermine basic principles of fair representation, we need to take notice and speak up. That moment has come in the Texas redistricting process.

The proposed congressional and state house maps now being debated in Austin fail on any number of basic principles — from keeping districts geographically compact to maintaining existing political subdivisions to preserving communities of interest by not splitting up suburbs to lump them in with rural communities.

It also must be said that these maps raise serious questions about the racial and ethnic makeup of new districts in a state where 95% of population growth in the last decade has been from people of color.

The letter of the law may permit a party in power to protect its incumbents by drawing maps around voters’ party preferences. But the spirit of the law and the greater good of democracy do not appear to be served by the maps that Republican legislators have crafted.

— The Dallas Morning News

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California legislation just signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom requires all large stores to “maintain a gender-neutral section or area ... in which a reasonable selection of the items and toys for children that it sells shall be displayed, regardless of whether they have been traditionally marketed for either girls or for boys.” Having been led by many daughters through many toy sections, we have a few questions.

Legos are traditionally marketed to boys. But lots of girls love them, too. Does anything in existing stores’ designs prevent girls from walking down the aisles where the bricks, Marvel action figures and red trucks are sold?

Dolls, ponies, Disney princesses and bracelet-making kits tend to attract girls, but research shows that some early toy preferences are not in fact socially constructed. Is it possible that California’s legislators, who no doubt preach the virtue of following the science on COVID-19 and climate change, are less interested in the science here?

Do game aisles satisfy the new legal requirement? If Sacramento will require retailers to desegregate (we use the term advisedly) kids’ toys, why don’t they similarly demand shampoos, razors, lotions and makeup be sold in a gender-neutral fashion? And why are legislators limiting their law to the toy aisle and leaving alone kids’ (and adults’) clothing?

— New York Daily News

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