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Photo Courtesy of Times

Jessica Wade
OPINION EDITOR

Many people have grown numb to the now 6-year war in Syria. The world tuned back into the country’s conflict April 4 after deadly chemical weapons were used to attack Syrian rebels and civilians in Syria’s Idlib province. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, more than 70 people were killed and hundreds more injured, many of them children.

Photos and videos of men, women and children who lay choking and gasping for air after breathing in what is believed to be a nerve agent echoed the tragedy of chemical warfare that has taken the lives of 14,000 Syrians within the last 6 years, only adding to the devastation of Syria’s war.

According to Mercy Corps, 11 million people have been killed or displaced by Syria’s civil war and medical care is becoming increasingly rare as extremists’ groups, Russian bombers and Assad-backed forces target hospitals.

The use of chemical weapons in Syria is illegal, inhumane and has been occurring for the past three years. The United Nations found proof of such an occurrence between 2014 and 2015, when the Syrian air force dropped chlorine on civilians.

The April 4 attack was met with outrage internationally, including from President Donald Trump and the UN security council, both placing blame on Russian-backed fighters for Syrian President Bashar alAssad. Russia’s claim that the attack was carried out by rebel fighters has been met with skepticism.

Trump didn’t just blame Russia for the attack, but the past Obama Administration as well, claiming the assault was a “consequence of the past administration’s weakness.”

Trump is correct in saying the Obama administration failed to fulfill their promise to actively combat the use of chemical weapons. The former administration made promises they had very few resources to keep, and unfortunately, like much of the international community, the United States did little to aid victims of the conflict.

In September 2013, Trump tweeted his opposition to intervening in Syria.

“What I am saying is stay out of Syria,” Trump said. “The only reason President Obama wants to attack Syria is to save face over his very dumb RED LINE statement. Do NOT attack Syria, fix USA.”

The statement he released April 5 seemed to have a bit more support for intervention in Syria.

“Today’s chemical attack in Syria against innocent people, including women and children, is reprehensible and cannot be ignored by the civilized world,” Trump said. “The United States stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this intolerable attack.”

Trump has condemned the attack, now it’s time for him to take action in whatever form that may be. The Trump administration has expressed the potential dangers of directly attacking the Assad regime and rolling the dice on who might end up in power, but as long as the regime remains attacks such as the one on April 5 will contin-ue.

The international community has chosen to look the other way while millions of civilians are caught up in a devastating, multifront war. If leaders choose not to react, the humanitarian devastation of chemical warfare will only grow more prevalent.

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Kenneth Pancake
CONTRIBUTOR

In the last edition of The Gateway, in an article entitled, “An enemy of the truth is an enemy of the arts,” the author said this about President Trump’s proposed cutting of the National Endowment for the Arts:

“It is increasingly clear that… [this is] a direct attack of the existence of the arts in the United States as a whole.”

As a music education major who has played with Grammy award winners, gone on tour with UNO jazz ensembles on two other continents and learned from world-class musicians, all as a direct benefit of the NEA, I can tell you that nothing is farther from the truth.

It seems that the writer of the article I mentioned above believes that Trump is “an enemy of the arts,” saying that “…Trump now too comes after the arts…”. Herein lies a massive misconception; that cutting federal funding for the arts is the equivalent of ‘coming after the arts.’ What President Trump is actually doing is coming after big government, like he said he would in his inaugural address.

The 10th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

To put that in the layman’s terms, the 10th Amendment states the federal government has no right to do anything that the Constitution doesn’t give it permission to. This amendment is our basis for the governing idea of Federalism – dividing the power between the local governments and the federal government. The idea behind Federalism (and the entire Constitution) is that the sovereign power should not be centered in one place, lest a tyrannical force take control and manipulate the power for his/ her own benefit. In 1776, that tyrannical force was England. The founders had personal experience regarding the matter.

Sadly, this has been largely ig-nored. Thanks to the repeated liberal activism of the Supreme Court, dozens if not hundreds of items better left to the states are now in the hands of the federal government. Funding for the arts is one of these items, whether you love them or not.

The Constitution doesn’t mention the arts as a power of the government (the only exception being to secure “for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries” in Article I, Section 8). This was because the founders knew that if a tyrannical government had any control over the arts, it could be manipulated to reduce free speech. One might claim that the federal government is the best source of this support; however, let’s not forget that we are nearly $20 trillion in debt right now.

Who will fund it then? Like the rest of capitalism, the arts should find a home in the local governments (State, City and County), along with private donors. If everyone who opposed Trump’s actions would donate $20 to a privatized NEA per year, the staffers would actually thank Trump for their newfound prosperity.

The author of the article I reference should love this solution, since it takes the arts out of Trump’s hands. If Trump was really attacking the arts, like the author claims, he would want to retain control and manipulate it from the inside, threatening to pull funding from any institution that chose to pub-lish left-leaning works of art. He is doing quite the opposite.

The arts are an awesome thing. They have lifted myself and dozens of fellow musicians out of stress, anxiety and even depression. They help increase graduation rates, test scores and grades. Organizations like the NEA do wonders for the arts community, and should receive support. No one reason-ably denies that. All I ask is that we support these institutions in a way that will safeguard America’s future.

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Photo Courtesy of Top FM

Kenneth Pancake
Contributor

A couple of weeks ago, a news show host on a major news network waved a U.S. citizen’s 1040 tax form across the screen of millions of viewers, going into detail about the tax payer’s income and tax rate for the year of 2005. Does that cause concern? It should, even if the host was Rachel Maddow for MSNBC, and even if the taxpayer was none other than President Trump.

In some befuddled attempt to uncover something negative about Trump, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow actually gave the President a little victory in the middle of a bad week. After a day’s worth of hype for that evening’s show, she revealed that she had obtained copies of Trump’s 1040 tax form from the year 2005.

As it turns out, this revelation only proved that Trump, as far as we know, pays his taxes – something that the mainstream media and elite left-wingers have been casting doubt on for the entire election season. Ironically, it also showed that he paid a higher tax rate than Bernie Sanders or President Obama in more recent years (granted, the Donald is probably much richer and is most likely in a higher tax bracket).

That, however, is not the biggest issue that presents itself in this story.

Somewhere along the line of communication in MSNBC’s newsroom, someone thought that it would be okay to publicly display and analyze a citizen’s confidential tax returns.

Let’s take a look at the legal side of the argument and the moral side (it is vital to remember the difference between the two – something can be legally correct, but morally wrong, or vice versa).

The legal side stands the U.S. Code, title 26, 7213, which states that it is “…unlawful for any person to whom any return or return information is disclosed in a manner unauthorized by this title thereafter willfully to print or publish in any manner not provided by law any such return or return information.”

It is also a crime, under section a4, to solicit disclosure of such a form or return. Unfortunately, the original thief of the returns would have to be found in order to present a credible court case, as per the SCOTUS case Bartnicki v. Vopper.

On the moral side, it’s just plain wrong. Tax returns feature highly confidential information that the taxpayer has a right to keep secret (except from the IRS, of course). If this fiasco doesn’t concern you, just view yourself as the taxpayer, and the news anchor as your worst enemy. Let’s remember that President Trump has the same rights of confidentiality as the rest of us, and is not obligated under any law to present his tax returns to the public (although it wouldn’t hurt his cause to deal such an easy blow to his opponents).

If the mainstream news really wants to attack Trump like they have been doing for the entire election cycle last year, why not focus on something of actual substance, like the fact that Trump just visited one of his favorite golf courses for an eleventh time since inauguration day, after criticizing Obama of his frequent golf outings? Or perhaps that Ivanka Trump will get a west wing office, and access to classified information without actually having an official job?

For being so desperate to bring the President bad press, the mainstream media is not doing a great job.

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Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

Sophie Ford
MANAGING EDITOR

Tens of thousands of years ago, human beings began leaving their mark on the world through paintings made on the walls of caves, carved sculptures and incisions made into rock. Before we as a species had even developed any form of writing system, our history was recorded in these pieces of art. Thousands upon thousands of years later, Francis Scott Key wrote the words to perhaps the most highly regarded song in the United States: The Star Spangled Banner.

Whole generations of children who grew up in the late 20th century were educated and inspired daily by
visits to Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. Visual art, music and public access broadcasting all have something in common: they are mediums directly threatened by Donald Trump’s proposal to slash funding for the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities.

Plans to cut funding to the NEA and the NEH came to light over the past week as part of a memo featuring a proposed hit list of various programs to cut in order to reduce spending. However, the NEA’s budget last year was $148 million, a mere pittance at only .004 percent of the total federal budget for the year. It’s a drop in the bucket in terms of federal spending, but the small amount allocated to these endowments goes towards offering grants to artists and performers and funds many public television networks across the country.

It’s increasingly clear that the proposed defunding of these programs is less of a shortcut to cutting federal spending, and more of a direct attack of the existence of the arts in the United States as a whole. Proposed attacks on federal spending to the arts aren’t new, they existed back in the time of the conservative president Ronald Reagan. Attacks on arts funding have in the past reared their heads in response to controversial works of art that challenged what society viewed as “proper” or “acceptable.” In simpler terms, attacks have been made on art for being deemed too liberal.

But not all works are even so divisive in nature. PBS would be one victim of cuts to federal funding of the arts, and also has drawn fire many times in the past for holding some sort of liberal bias.

One specific PBS show that has drawn fire is Sesame Street, an educational show targeted at children. Conservative author Ben Shapiro criticized the show for being so bold as to suggest that conflict should be resolved peacefully if possible, and that children should be accepting and understanding of those with different skin colors than themselves.

Despite political affiliation, what opponents of the arts fail to realize is the arts are integral to the human experience as a whole. It is impossible to go a day without being exposed to some aspect of artistic or creative expression. The clothes we put on each morning, the music we listen to on the radio while commuting to work and the colors of paint on the walls in our offices and classrooms are all a result of artistic expression and decision making. Furthermore, the arts exist in part to tell us truths, oftentimes uncomfortable truths. The peace sign was created as a response to the very real threat of nuclear violence and popular music to this day touches on themes of inequality.

The current dominant political party, headed up by none other than Donald Trump, has frequently lambasted the media for seeking truths, ignoring facts under the defense of “fake news.” It is of no surprise that Trump now too comes after the arts, a medium which consistently tell us how things were, how things are now, and inspires us to be better.

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Photo Courtesy of Omaha World Herald

Madeline Miller
CONTRIBUTOR

Along with a seat in the state legislature comes a powerful, albeit local, platform of visibility that is far too easily abused. Nebraska State Senator Bill Kintner recently came under fire for retweeting a tweet by conservative radio host Larry Elder.

The tweet contained a picture of three women holding signs that referenced President Donald Trump’s inflammatory “grab them by the pussy” statement and Elder’s own commentary, “Ladies, I think you’re safe.”

Words like this highlight the deep-seeded misunderstanding many people have of rape and rape culture: they think it’s about love, lust or attraction. In reality,rape is about power and control. Kintner has since resigned after claiming the message “was being misconstrued.”

In reality, an American is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds. It’s not a joke, and any outrage aimed at Kintner is well warranted. The job of a state senator is to represent the residents of their state, including sexual assault victims

Additionally, this isn’t the only incident Kintner has had while in office. He made national news more than once for his discriminatory words and childish actions. He threw a pen at another senator when a vote didn’t go the way he wanted. An abundance of his public statements are inflammatory, including calling his colleagues “monkeys” and “prostitutes,” despite being well known for accepting free meals from lobbyists.

Kintner’s resignation was not just appropriate, it was long overdue. In the summer of 2016, his incident of using a State of Nebraska issued laptop to engage in cybersex with a foreign sex worker came to light. The woman convinced him to disrobe for the webcam and used those images to extort him.

Kintner was charged a fine of $1,000 for misuse of government property, and though there was talk then of expelling him from the legislature, nothing of the sort came to fruition.

Kintner’s repeated use of slurs and derogatory comments has become both a state and national embarrassment. His resignation should have come much sooner than it did, and it is relieving to know that such a person is no longer making laws for Nebraskans. Instead of a medium for public outreach, his Twitter became a way to share horrifying opinions and it makes perfect sense that eventually Twitter would be the medium used to remove him from his platform.

No longer will Nebraskans be forced to accept that “God and my wife” forgave him, so they should too.

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Jessica Wade
OPINION EDITOR

The executive orders signed by President Donald Trump have many people worried, and for good reason. Families are separated, refugees turned away, progress made by activists protesting the DAPL and Keystone XL pipelines set back, and although he put a freeze on federal hiring, 10,000 additional ICE officers will still be added to federal payroll.

Many of the numerous actions Trump has taken are cause for concern, but are not surprising. He is fulfilling promises made during his campaign, promises that kept the majority of U.S. citizens from voting for him and promises that marginalize many people— particularly immigrants.

There’s one aspect of Trump’s orders that may have been lost behind the wall and the victims of foreign wars who have become victims of Trump’s policies. Buried in an executive order meant to secure the country’s interior is the formation of the Office for Victims of Crimes Committed by Removable Aliens.

The function of this office would be to report quarterly, “studying the effects of the victimization by criminal aliens present in the United States.” For a president who claims federal funding of the National Endowment for the Arts NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is a waste of money, Trump has some pricey ideas for reforming immigration policies.

Another aspect of the order concerns sanctuary cities, or cities that refuse to report or hand over undocumented immigrants for deportation. The order calls for a weekly report of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants to be made public in order to “better inform the public regarding the public safety threats associated with sanctuary jurisdictions.”

Trump’s “immigration list” is an attempt to sway public opinion towards the unrealistic belief that immigrants are dangerous criminals. Multiple studies have found that immigrants are less likely than native-born U.S. citizens to commit crimes. A study conducted by the Center for American Progress even found that sanctuary cities have lower crime rates and more productive economies compared to non-sanctuary areas.

An extremely conservative stance on immigration was prevalent since the beginning of Trump’s campaign. He would mention the names of victims of crimes committed by immigrants, and tell their stories to the nation. Despite what many Trump supporters may believe, a list won’t bring the victims’ families justice, but it will target an already marginalized group.

Trump claims the measures, “ensure the safety and territorial integrity of the United States,” and “[illegal immigrants] present a significant threat to national security and public safety.”

In a nation divided by so many things, Trump himself is a threat to national security. The unfortunate short-sightedness of a man whose mother was an immigrant has the potential to hurt the millions of people who have the audacity to reach for the American dream.

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Jessica Wade
OPINION EDITOR

On Nov. 9, Americans awoke to find that Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. The news was met with various reactions around the world: Hilary supporters were shocked, Putin sent a congratulatory telegram and many media agencies pondered how they could be so inconceivably, incredibly wrong.

Despite what many Americans, those who have decided to take out their frustration by breaking windows, yelling and burning this country’s flag may believe, a President Trump is not the end of the world. However, he’s definitely not going to do the world any favors.

During his time in office, President Obama has made strides toward hindering global warming. He supported the Paris Agreement that committed nearly 200 nations to reducing their carbon foot print, and he implemented the Clean Power Plan, which set a national carbon pollution standard for power plants.

Despite Obama’s efforts, climate change can still be a difficult topic to take seriously. After all, this threat is hard to compare to the dire urgency of other issues in the world, such as the bombing of Syria or the fear of an economically unstable future, but the threat remains imminent.

“What makes climate change difficult is that it is not an instantaneous catastrophic event,” Obama said in an interview with the New York Times. “It’s a slow-moving issue that, on a day-to-day basis, people don’t experience and don’t see.”

All the leeway Obama has made during his eight-year presidency will be for nothing if Trump refuses to acknowledge the scientific evidence of climate change.

In 2012, Trump tweeted, “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” Earlier this
month, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin assured Trump that the threat of global warming is not a Chinese “hoax” and pointed out the fact that it was past Republican presidents who worked on climate negotiations.

Never mind the scientific evidence supporting the theory of global warming—the rise of global sea levels, the rate of which is two times faster than that of the last century, the shrinking of glaciers, a dying Great Barrier Reef, the extinction of hundreds of thousands of species and an increase in natural disasters such as droughts and wild fires. All of this, and Trump still decided to make Myron Ebell the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) transition team.

Here’s a little bit on Ebell: he’s spent years denying the existence of global warming, he has zero scientific background, he opposes the Paris Agreement and he is the director of environmental and energy policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a group that “questions global warming alarmism” and was given $2 million from ExxonMobil from 1998 to 2005.

Trump wants to demolish Obama’s climate change policies, and putting a man whose organization is notably financed by the coal industry in charge of the EPA should do the trick.

The decision makes sense. Trump is a businessman, Ebell is a businessman, and they both want to make money. However, in a very short two months, Trump will go from a businessman to one of the most powerful people on the planet.

Many voters probably weren’t thinking about climate change when they cast their votes, but if Trump continues on in denial, the damage may be irreversible

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Photo Courtesy of brg.com
Photo Courtesy of brg.com

Phil Brown
SENIOR STAFF WRITER

How did Trump become President? The answer is simple: privileged liberal elites, both Democrat and Republican, misunderstood and underestimated rural and Western people. They also failed to counter his politics with any meaningful response of their own.

“Despite what you hear, we don’t need to make America great again. America has never stopped being great,” Hillary Clinton told a crowd after a victory in a coastal state earlier this year over her primary opponent, Bernie Sanders.

The quote, of course, was in response to the widely-disseminated Trump slogan: Make America Great Again. The problem for Hillary was that people in the Midwest, especially rural areas, knew that this wasn’t true.

Everyone out there has been affected by the economic changes that have gutted industry, weakened organized labor and crippled small towns. Even for the relatively well-off, or for those who have jobs at all, there’s always somebody down the road who isn’t or doesn’t.

Everybody knows that somewhere along the line, America stopped being great, if it ever was. Hillary’s words rang false, and, for better or for worse, Trump’s acknowledgment of their economic and social reality rang true.

Hillary repeatedly criticized her primary opponent, Bernie Sanders, for being a “single-issue” candidate for his stubborn focus on economic injustice: income inequality, Wall Street abuse and damaging trade agreements.

In Midwestern states like Michigan, rocked by the vagaries of the auto industry, Sanders pulled off upset victories over Clinton based on, among other things, the “single-issue” of economic justice. Clinton would go on to lose Michigan to Trump.

In Wisconsin, Sanders beat Clinton by an even bigger margin, again winning much of his success due to his firm stance on economic issues. Clinton would go on to lose Wisconsin as well, the first Democratic candidate in 30 years to do so.

The election was lost for Clinton in the Midwest, particularly Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan. Perhaps she should’ve listened more and belittled less when her primary opponent took the Midwest by storm with his “single-issue” politics. In eleven of the Midwestern/Western states Sanders beat Clinton in during the primaries, she also lost to Trump in the general.

There’s certainly more at play than her campaign’s inability to relate to the economic problems of the rural Midwest. Trump has released a steady stream of racist, xenophobic and sexist invective since he announced his candidacy. That invective has found an audience in white supremacist groups across the country, who openly celebrate their champion’s victory.

There is certainly more to the election results than racism. Clinton lost 5 states last week that her Democratic predecessor Obama won two elections in a row. According to exit polls, more Democrats voted for Trump than Republicans voted for Clinton. The only Nebraskan county to vote consistently Democratic in recent memory, Thurston County, whose population is mostly Native American, broke the streak and went for Trump this year.

The conclusion seems unavoidable that states, communities and individual voters who had no problem voting for Obama in 2008 and 2012, voted for Trump in 2016. The reductive reasoning that many liberals are clinging to in the wake of the election, that the result is simply due to racist hicks, is false.

Trump’s win has opened the door to more racism and other types of hate, however. His public demagoguery has set a certain type of precedent. Like the wave in hate crimes after Britain’s Brexit vote, which seemed to be motivated mostly by xenophobia, we are seeing a similar wave of hate already in America, leading up to Trump’s victory and now in the immediate aftermath. Most troublingly, it seems to be affecting children in schools, with many incidents being reported of schoolkids mimicking the racist or sexist words or behavior of Trump.

We need to fight back against the precedent of hate Trump’s victory sets. However, a political response to Trump can’t forget the lessons learned in Hillary’s defeat. A politics that condescends and ignores the economic realities of rural Midwestern Americans is a politics that will be defeated.

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