‘This Isn’t the America I Promised’ My Wife

Dallas, Fort Worth Papers Applaud Protesters

For Some, Obama’s New Spokesman Looks Familiar

Sotomayor Says U. of Michigan Needs More Blacks

ABC Moves Cecilia Vega to White House

Short Takes

‘This Isn’t the America I Promised’ My Wife

Mohammed Al Rawi

Mohammed Al-Rawi

Mohammed Al-Rawi’s passion for computers carried him through the war in Iraq all the way to the shores of California,” Marjorie Miller wrote in 2010 for a Fourth of July story in the Los Angeles Times.

“His fluency in Windows and in English landed him a job with journalists, put him in the path of multiple bomb and rocket attacks, and brought him here, along with his wife and two young children, for their first Fourth of July in the United States. Like so many new Iraqi immigrants, he has much to celebrate this Independence Day, and much to mourn.

“At 21, Al-Rawi ran an Internet cafe in the basement of Baghdad’s Flowersland Hotel. He knew how to breach Saddam Hussein’s firewalls to access forbidden websites, and in the weeks leading up to the U.S. invasion he helped reporters send their material out of the country. Then government monitors traced a photograph of the president to his computer, and he went into hiding until he saw the first U.S. tanks roll into his southern Baghdad neighborhood and one of the first U.S. soldiers on the ground, an African American in dark glasses with an M-16. ‘It was just like in the movies,’ he says. . . .”

That was then. On Friday, Al-Rawi was distraught. “My 69 year old dad is in Qatar boarding LAX flight to come visit us and and he’s being sent back to Iraq,” he wrote on Twitter. “Some US official told him that Trump canceled all visas.”

Journal-isms asked Al-Rawi for an update Monday night. “My dad was detained for 12 hours and sent back to Iraq,” he messaged. “Embassy representative told him that his Visa is no longer valid and at this point we don’t know if we will ever be able to see him again. That’s pretty much the latest.”

Al-Rawi’s example is but one of many ways journalists — or those close to them — are being affected by President Trump’s temporary ban on entry visas for people from seven predominantly Muslim countries. The ban has led to massive demonstrations at home and abroad, four federal judges temporarily blocking part of Trump’s executive order, objections by corporate chieftains and, on Monday, Trump’s firing of the acting attorney general, Sally Q. Yates, when she refused to defend his immigration executive order.

CNN’s Brian Stelter reported Sunday in his “Reliable Sources” newsletter, “WashPost reporter Jason Rezaian and his wife Yeganeh Salehi are here in America, one year after Rezaian was freed from an Iranian jail cell. Rezaian has both American and Iranian citizenship. Salehi has Iranian citizenship. When a twitterer said, ‘Think who this #MuslimBan affects. Wife of @jrezaian,’ Jason responded: ‘Yes, it is likely to have a major impact on my wife & our entire family. This isn’t the America I promised her when we were finally set free.’ ”

Rukmini Callimachi

Rukmini Callimachi

Rukmini Callimachi, a correspondent for the New York Times who focuses on al-Qaeda and ISIS, tweeted on Saturday, “Last night, I found myself in tears at the news. I do not recognize the America that welcomed my family so many years ago. #IAmARefugee,” and “I usually use my Twitter feed to talk about ISIS. Today, I’d like to share my own story, as a metaphor for what is unique about America.”

On Monday, Yvonne Leow, president of the Asian American Journalists Association, said in a statement with the AAJA governing board, “We remain dedicated to providing fair and accurate coverage of communities of color. We believe empathy elevates our reporting, and context distinguishes our journalism. These are cornerstones of what we stand for at AAJA, and we will not stand for anything less.

“The stories we tell have a profound impact on what the public learns about the communities they may not have access to. As a daughter of a Cambodian refugee and a Singaporean immigrant, I, along with many fellow AAJA members, understand why these narratives are so nuanced and deserve fair and accurate coverage. Over the years, we’ve developed a style guide for covering Asian America, which we recommend sharing with your colleagues. We’ve also extended our support to Muslim journalists in light of recent events, and partnered with more than 60 journalism organizations to demand transparency under the Trump administration. . . .”

Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post explains “what Trump’s executive actions ignore about terrorism.”

Dallas, Fort Worth Papers Applaud Protesters

The Dallas Morning News and the Star-Telegram in Fort Worth applauded protesters opposing President Trump’s order restricting travel from seven Muslim-majority countries. The order “led to 13 travelers being detained at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport over the weekend, prompting large protests Saturday and Sunday in the international terminal,” Ryan Osborne reported Monday for the Star-Telegram. All 13 had been released by Sunday afternoon.”

In an editorial Monday, the Dallas Morning News listed “local heroes” who “reflected the bold and diverse North Texans who made up the protest.”

After naming civic and religious leaders, lawyers, politicians and restaurateurs, the editorial concluded, “Most moving were the hundreds of average folks who swarmed Terminal D Saturday and Sunday with deafening chants and robust singing of ‘This Land is Your Land.‘ Their signs made clear: ‘Walls can’t stop love,’ ‘We can afford to help others’ and ‘This is what Dallas Looks Like.’

“Yes it is.”

The Star-Telegram noted on Friday that Trump’s action “came on the heels of a forum, ‘Defending Against Radical Islamic Terrorism in the State of Texas,’ hosted by state Rep. Kyle Bidermann, R-Fredericksburg.

“One of the biggest concerns of the forum was the unfounded speculation that many Muslims want Shariah law to supersede the American laws. . . . ” the editorial said.

It concluded, “The forum and Trump’s executive action are provocative, marginalizing a group of human beings — people who work, pay taxes, abide by laws and raise families in America along with the rest of us.

“We shouldn’t point fingers and fearfully accuse the many for the actions of a few. America is better than that.”

Kevin Lewis and Barack Obama on the day Obama asked Lewis to join him post-presidency. (Credit: Pete Souza/White House)

Kevin Lewis and Barack Obama on the December day that Obama asked Lewis to join him post-presidency. (Credit: Pete Souza/White House)

For Some, Obama’s New Spokesman Looks Familiar

When Barack Obama issued a statement Monday rejecting the idea that President Trump had based his immigration executive order on a policy adopted by the Obama administration, as Juliet Eilperin reported for the Washington Post, the message was delivered by Kevin S. Lewis, an aide familiar to black journalists who made contact with the Obama administration.

Lewis, 33, is serving as Obama’s spokesman in the former president’s post-White House life. He was director of African American media for the White House Communications Office from 2010 to 2014, when he moved to the Justice Department. At the White House, he was “responsible for strategic communications planning and messaging for constituency media, and is the liaison for African American media including print, online publications, new media, and radio,” a bio said at the time.

Lewis and Obama go back to the former president’s days as a U.S. senator from Illinois, when Lewis graduated from Yes We Can, a campaign operative training program created by the then-senator through Hopefund, his political action committee. Lewis also worked at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the exploratory committee for the presidential campaign, the Presidential Inauguration Committee and as an aide to then-press secretary Robert Gibbs in the White House Press Office.

In December, Obama asked Lewis to join him in his post-presidential life, Lewis said. He happily said yes and told Journal-isms that it was important to him to stay in the administration until its last day. He said he was also glad that his first child was born while Obama was president.

Now Lewis and Ed Schultz, who was ‎White House principal deputy press secretary, work for Obama in office space in Washington’s West End neighborhood. “It’s like a start-up,” Lewis told Journal-isms by telephone.

Obama pledged to remain active as a citizen, and has a hand in the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, in former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr.’s National Democratic Redistricting Committee and in other projects, including the planned Obama library and foundation.

In his final news conference as president, held Jan. 18, Obama said he would be compelled to speak out “where I think our core values may be at stake. I put in that category if I saw systematic discrimination being ratified in some fashion. . . .”

On Monday, just 10 days after leaving the office, Obama felt that such a time had come.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor said Monday at the University of Michigan, "“When you look at the number of African Americans at the University of Michigan, there’s a real problem there.” (Credit: Melanie Maxwell/Ann Arbor News)

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor said Monday on campus, “When you look at the number of African Americans at the University of Michigan, there’s a real problem there.” (Credit: Melanie Maxwell/Ann Arbor News)

Sotomayor Says U. of Michigan Needs More Blacks

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has challenged the University of Michigan to get more black students as she received an honorary degree from the school,” Ed White reported Monday for the Associated Press.

“Asked Monday about what public universities will look like in the decades ahead, Sotomayor said they’re going to ‘look a lot like’ the University of Michigan but more diverse — a remark that drew applause. She says the number of black students at the Ann Arbor school is a ‘real problem.’

“Sotomayor says the U.S. can’t ‘reach equality in a larger society’ without equality in education. She made her comments during a forum with German Justice Susanne Baer.

“The percentage of black undergraduate students at the University of Michigan has been pretty steady at less than 5 percent since 2012.”

The university does not offer journalism as a major, but journalism courses are offered within the College of Literature, Science and the Arts. In 2015, the college enrolled 607 black women and 354 black men, totaling 5 percent of the college population.

ABC Moves Cecilia Vega to White House

ABC News is promoting Cecilia Vega and Tom Llamas,” Marisa Guthrie reported Monday for the Hollywood Reporter.

Cecilia Vega

Cecilia Vega

“Vega has been named senior White House correspondent. She’ll move to Washington, D.C., where she’ll join Jonathan Karl, who has been named chief Washington correspondent and chief White House correspondent.

“It’s a high-profile assignment for Vega, who covered the [Hillary] Clinton campaign while also anchoring the Saturday edition of World News Tonight.

“Vega will give up the Saturday edition of WNT, and Tom Llamas, who covered the Trump campaign for ABC News, will now anchor both weekend editions of World News Tonight while also becoming ABC News’ chief national correspondent.

“Like most journalists covering [President] Trump’s campaign, Llamas occasionally found himself in the then-candidate’s cross hairs. Trump called Llamas a ‘sleaze’ when the reporter questioned Trump’s dubious claims about the money Trump said he raised for veterans’ charities. . . .”

Short Takes

“The March” by Abigail Gray Swartz. the latest New Yorker cover, makes reference to the recent Women’s March on Washington held on Jan. 21.

“The March” by Abigail Gray Swartz, the latest New Yorker cover, makes reference to the recent Women’s March on Washington held on Jan. 21.

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