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This Texas mayor is 'more fearful' of white guys than refugees. His reason is pretty simple.

Mayor Mike Rawlings and Sen. Sherrod Brown are onto something.

This Texas mayor is 'more fearful' of white guys than refugees. His reason is pretty simple.

This is Mike Rawlings, the mayor of Dallas, Texas.

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images.


And if there's one thing Rawlings is certainly not afraid of, it's Syrian refugees.

In an interview with MSNBC on Nov. 21, 2015, Rawlings voiced concerns about how we're responding to the terror attacks earlier this month in Paris — namely, that some leaders are reacting in-line with how extremists want them to.

"ISIS wants us to be divided on this issue," he said, later noting that "ISIS is no more Islamic than the Nazi senior staff was Christian."

"ISIS wants us to demonize these Syrian refugees," he said.

In indirect fashion, Rawlings was referring to the several presidential candidates and governors (including his own state's) who've come out in support of a ban on Syrian refugees in the wake of the attacks.

But then, Rawlings said something truly ... well, out of the box.


Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

When asked if he had any safety concerns about allowing refugees to enter the country, he got candid:

"There is never a 100% guarantee [of keeping terrorists out], and safety is my #1 concern, as it is [Texas] Governor Abbott's. We've got to make sure [those entering the country] are safe. This is a 21-step process to get in. 18 to 24 months to jump through these hoops. This is a serious issue. I am more fearful of large gatherings of white men that come into schools [and] theaters and shoot people up, but we don't isolate young, white men on this issue." (Emphasis added.)

Yeah ... it's that last part that's really got the Internet abuzz.

And yeah. Rawlings actually ... he made a really great point.

Hear me out. I'm not saying anyone should fear all white guys (#NotAllWhiteGuys), and I certainly don't think the mayor is, either. But Rawlings is simply alluding to the fact that in the U.S., you actually are more likely to become the victim of a white male terrorist than an Islamic jihadist, statistically speaking.

Since 9/11, 48 people have died from radical right wing terrorist attacks while 26 have died from jihadists.

Throughout the past 14 years, nearly twice as many people in the U.S. have died at the hands of white supremacists or extreme anti-government terrorists (such as Dylann Roof, who murdered nine people at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, this past summer) than at the hands of jihadists (like the terrorists who bombed the Boston Marathon in 2013, killing four), according to a study released in June by the New America Foundation.

Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio hinted at that same statistic during a recent interview with NPR, according to CNN.

"I mean, since the beginning of the Bush administration when we were attacked, September 11th, we've not had any major terrorist attacks in this country. We've had individual crazy people ... they look more like me than they look like Middle Easterners — they are generally white males — who have shot up people in movie theaters and schools. Those are terrorist attacks, they're just different kinds of terrorists." (Emphasis added.)

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

In total, 48 people in the U.S. have died from radical right wing terrorists since 9/11 while 26 have died from jihadists. Although those facts may make some people uncomfortable, they certainly don't lie.

With his statement, Rawlings wasn't trying to imply white people are scary.

But white supremacists and extremists are just as much of a threat, if not more so. And yet, we do nothing to prevent all white men from accessing guns or even prevent white men with a history of extremism from accessing guns and weaponry. Rawlings was pointing out how ridiculous it is to fear (and ban) Muslims and Muslim refugees based on the harmful and false premise that many of them are extremists attempting to infiltrate the U.S. through our refugee resettlement program.

The good news is, there's no shortage of mayors from across the country who, like Rawlings, are committed to helping Syrian refugees.

Rawlings is one of 18 U.S. mayors, all part of the Cities United for Immigration Action initiative, who penned an open letter to President Obama, applauding his efforts to accept Syrian refugees and noting their cities will certainly accept more.

Mayors from cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Baltimore agree: Refugees aren't violent, and we should be doing more to help them.

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images.

"It sends a horrible message to the world," New York's Bill de Blasio said of some governors' refusing to take refugees, according to CNN.

"It means we're turning our backs on the people who are the victims of terrorism. We're not going to turn our backs on children and families. It's not the American way. It's certainly not the New York City way."

In may have taken Rawlings making a bold statement to point out a surprising reality, but I'm glad he did.

After all, facts should be the guiding light of our policymaking. Not fear.

“This is a big issue, and we as a nation must step up and make sure we're secure," Rawlings told MSNBC. "But we must not do things that change the soul of who we are as well."

Everyone can all use a little lift at the end of the week, and we've collected some of this week's best stories to provide just such a pick-me-up. Here are 10 things we want to share, just because they made us so darn happy.

1. Introducing Lila, the U.S. Capitol Police's first emotional support dog.

After the traumatic experiences of January 6th, Capitol Police officers could definitely use some extra support. Lila, a two-year-old black lab, will now serve as the department's first full-time emotional support dog. Look at that sweet face!

2. Speaking of the Capitol, take a look at this week's gorgeous solar eclipse behind the dome.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson shared the stunning "ring of fire" image on Twitter. Always a treat when nature gives us a great show.


3. Colorado sees its first wild wolf pups in six decades.

In the 1940s, the gray wolf was eradicated in Colorado by trappers and hunters, with the support of the federal government. Whoops. This week, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has announced the first evidence of wild wolf breeding in the state, a sign of hope for the endangered species. Read more about the discovery here.

Photo by M L on Unsplash


4. 30-year-old singer with terminal cancer amazed and inspired with her performance on America's Got Talent.

Keep Reading Show less

Everyone can all use a little lift at the end of the week, and we've collected some of this week's best stories to provide just such a pick-me-up. Here are 10 things we want to share, just because they made us so darn happy.

1. Introducing Lila, the U.S. Capitol Police's first emotional support dog.

After the traumatic experiences of January 6th, Capitol Police officers could definitely use some extra support. Lila, a two-year-old black lab, will now serve as the department's first full-time emotional support dog. Look at that sweet face!

2. Speaking of the Capitol, take a look at this week's gorgeous solar eclipse behind the dome.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson shared the stunning "ring of fire" image on Twitter. Always a treat when nature gives us a great show.


3. Colorado sees its first wild wolf pups in six decades.

In the 1940s, the gray wolf was eradicated in Colorado by trappers and hunters, with the support of the federal government. Whoops. This week, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has announced the first evidence of wild wolf breeding in the state, a sign of hope for the endangered species. Read more about the discovery here.

Photo by M L on Unsplash


4. 30-year-old singer with terminal cancer amazed and inspired with her performance on America's Got Talent.

Keep Reading Show less
True

Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."