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The dispute centered around who would be in charge of the upcoming Lunar New Year Parade in downtown Flushing. It grew to the point that the commander of the 109th Precinct refused to issue a parade permit until all parties could reach an agreement.
This is not an auspicious way to welcome in a new year. Although Westerners tend to view Asian-Americans more or less as a homogenous grouping, the fact remains that the bonds that hold this community can be quite fragile. Even between the two largest groups - the Korean Americans and the Chinese-Americans - there are internal divisions. There are Taiwanese who remain distrustful of immigrants from mainland China. And the Korean community itself was divided into two camps competing for control of this parade.
Perhaps this is nothing more than growth pains. Flushing's Asian community is becoming a powerful economic and political force in Queens. But this could fall apart if these groups allow friction and cultural differences to divide them into dozens of isolated camps. It appears that the battle for control of the Lunar New Year Parade is over and all sides appear satisfied. That is good news indeed.
The baby dump
A newly enacted state law takes all the fuss and bother out of getting rid of an unwanted baby. Where once a young mother had to go through the embarrassment of notifying children's services and signing papers terminating parental rights, today's modern mother can just drop the newborn at a designated safe baby dump on the way to the mall, a movie or a concert.
What a wonderful world we live in. It is now easier to get rid of an unwanted human being than it is to unload an unwanted puppy.
The Abandoned Infant Protection Act, also known as the Safe Haven Legislation, has noble intentions. The legislation was designed to protect the lives of newborn infants. The authors of this bill argue that a mother who is ready to give up her baby is already under "extreme duress" and living in "dire circumstances." It is far better, they say, to bring a healthy baby to a firehouse, hospital or other safe haven than to put the baby in a dumpster or leave it wrapped in blankets in some alley. The law allows the mother to leave the child no questions asked.
The people who voted for this law readily concede that they wish it wasn't necessary. Sadly it is. But the legislators go too far when they suggest that society shouldn't "judge" the baby-dumping mother. This mother had nine months to get counseling and make suitable arrangements for the care of her child. There are thousands of would-be parents who are desperate to have a child to call their own.
The baby dumper should feel guilt. The mother who goes through nine months of pregnancy without seeking care for her unborn child has done a bad thing. Remove the conscience and all sense of guilt and we become less than human.
State Assemblyman Mark Weprin, one of the co-authors of the Abandoned Infant Protection Act, is right. The sad truth is we do need to create places where people can bring unwanted children no questions asked. But as a society we should make it clear: this is not the way that any child should begin his or her life.
Even if it may be a sign that the economic boom is grinding to a halt, we welcome the opening of an Army recruiting center on Lefferts Boulevard in Richmond Hill. Although unemployment remains at an all-time low, the armed forces remain a tremendous opportunity for young people who are less than certain about their future.
To be sure the pay is meager. Only $930 a month for a new recruit. Then again, we wonder how many young people have more than that in disposable cash after paying for food, shelter, insurance and the rest.
The Army and the other armed forces continue to offer invaluable training, personal growth, the opportunity to travel and a free college education. All this while the young man or woman gets to serve his/her country. For many, the armed forces continue to be a great opportunity.
©2001 Community Newspaper Group
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