Evans: There’s no escaping the chaos of war

The news out of Afghanistan last week about the terrorist bombing at the airport in Kabul brought fresh heartache — and old memories — to Iowa. A native of Red Oak, Marine Cpl. Daegan Page, 23, was among 13 members of the U.S. military who died in the blast. Page and the others were screening U.S. citizens and Afghanistan civilians heading to evacuation flights — among 120,000 people the United States and its allies have airlifted out of Afghanistan after its government collapsed following more than 20 years of civil war. Not surprisingly, there have been many questions since President Joe Biden announced in April that American forces would be gone by the end of August. Questions are nothing new about the U.S. presence in Afghanistan — or about our handling of other wars and conflicts. There were questions when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and again in 2003 when we invaded Iraq.

Evans: The Amish have some lessons for us

The man who answered the door at a farm house west of Bloomfield one afternoon in the early 1970s was an imposing figure, even without that thick beard on his chin.Gideon Yutzy was a member of the Old Order Amish religion. He was the patriarch of a family that moved into the countryside west of my hometown several months earlier.That was 50 years ago. The arrival of the Yutzys began an Amish settlement that has grown to about 1,800 people today, making Davis County one of the largest enclaves of Amish in Iowa.I was there at Yutzy’s front door to interview him. I wanted to ask about the legal issues surrounding attempts by state and local governments in the Midwest to force Amish children to be educated beyond the eighth grade.In 1965, the issue boiled over near Hazleton in Buchanan County. A front-page photo in The Des Moines Register showed the nation what happened when government officials arrived at a one-room Amish school and tried to take the children to a public school.Little Amish boys and girls scattered like rabbits into a cornfield.

Evans: What was New York’s Andrew Cuomo (or Joni Ernst) thinking?

Here is one of the persistent questions rattling around in my head: Why are some well-educated people seemingly so lacking in common sense and good judgment? I’m thinking about Andrew Cuomo, New York’s governor for the past 10 years. Cuomo is hanging on to his job by a thread. His job security is so precarious I wouldn’t recommend buying any green bananas for the governor’s mansion. 

New York Attorney General Letitia James, herself a Democrat like Cuomo, issued a scathing report last week that found he had created a toxic work environment inside the governor’s office. Specifically, she concluded he sexually harassed at least 11  current or former state employees, all women, since 2013.

Evans: Norm and Dolly are two peas in a pod

It is hard to imagine Norman Borlaug ever joining in singing “Jolene” or “9 to 5.”

I can’t picture him harmonizing in a heart-tugging rendition of “I Will Always Love You.”

This is not a knock against this kid from Cresco, Iowa. He excelled in other ways — like saving upwards of 1 billion people from starvation through the revolutionary plant-breeding work he did in the decades after World War II. Borlaug developed new high-yield, disease-resistant varieties of wheat, maize and rice that are still feeding people around the globe today. He also established the World Food Prize 35 years ago to honor people who devote themselves to trying to rid the world of the scourge of hunger. A bronze statue of the late scientist stands in Statuary Hall inside the U.S. Capitol.

Evans: Iowa’s universities need to learn an important lesson

In recent years, Republicans and Democrats in the Iowa Legislature often agree on little. But they were nearly unanimous this spring in supporting an important piece of legislation — a bill requiring faculty and administrators at the state universities to go through training about the First Amendment and the rights it contains. Anyone skeptical of the need for the new law received a wake-up call last week when the U.S. Court of Appeals in St. Louis handed down a decision against the University of Iowa. The decision should embarrass and anger Iowans. In a blistering 3-0 ruling, the court said university administrators engaged in clear discrimination against a student religious group based solely on the views of the organization and its leaders.

Evans: Government cuts corners on public participation

Several times a week, someone contacts me because they had difficulty learning about a government meeting or ran into obstacles trying to get government records. These calls and emails to the Iowa Freedom of Information Council come more frequently than just a few years ago. This is a troubling trend because there is growing citizen distrust of government at all levels. It should not be this way. Government officials in Iowa already have the power to make these citizen frustrations disappear — if they want to.

Evans: A church and its misplaced priorities

Talk about lousy timing. The biggest religion story in Iowa last week was a jaw-dropper. Attorney General Tom Miller announced he has concluded a three-year investigation of sexual abuse allegations against priests in the four Roman Catholic dioceses in our state. 

Miller’s staff examined church records, some dating to the 1930s, that involved about 100 priests. His office also received and looked into 50 allegations against 36 priests, many of whom were the subject of earlier complaints. Most of the cases involved priests who are now deceased or retired.

Evans: This wasn’t one of the court’s finest moments

Through the long arc of history, the Iowa Supreme Court has developed a reputation for judicial courage that often puts it ahead of many other courts when crafting groundbreaking decisions before important legal concepts become widely accepted. The issues have been meaty, and controversial, especially here in the middle of America. Iowa has been a leader with landmark rulings on slavery, school desegregation and gay marriage. But Friday, the Supreme Court passed up the opportunity to add to its legacy. In time, history will tell us just how far reaching this latest decision turns out to be, legally and environmentally.