Helping and not helping: International Assistance Mission and Assemblyman Anthony Portantino

Britten Fay

Helping: International Assistance Mission

For more than 40 years, professional volunteers for the International Assistance Mission (IAM) have been dedicated to helping Afghanistan, in some cases giving up lucrative practices to do so. Earlier this month, a 10-person IAM medical team was gunned down in the Nuristan province. The Taliban claimed responsibility, alleging members of the group were Western spies trying to convert Muslims.

Though IAM is a Christian organization, the group’s mission is not to proselytize.  Rather, they offer services ranging from medical and dental care to business education, community development and even renewable energy.

It has been said that you cannot win a war of ideas with bullets, but rather through the demonstration of your own better ideas. In this way, IAM is a beacon, operating unarmed and without security in a nation torn by war since 1979.

Far from being ambassadors of the corrupt West as militant fundamentalists would claim, IAM volunteers leave all their comforts and family behind to place only their bodies and ideas between the bullets of a brutal, stifling movement and the people it oppresses.

Not helping: Assemblyman Anthony Portantino

California Assemblyman Anthony Portantino has authored a bill that would make party crashing a misdemeanor, carrying a penalty of up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine or both. Portantino drew up the bill at the request of the Screen Actors Guild, which claims the few high-profile crashings at Hollywood awards shows over the years are a risk to public safety, and that past offenders have slipped through cracks in the law.

But trespassing is already illegal. Once security gets their hands on someone who sneaked in, they are arrested, and in the event that someone really intended harm, a misdemeanor law would hardly stop them.

Portantino has done good things for California. but he is up for re-election this fall and is pandering to a wealthy, influential minority. Not a dumb move for a politician, but not one that works toward what should be his highest priority: fixing this broken state.