Schiff’s Views Well Received at Flintridge Prep

The future voters at Flintridge Prep extended a warm, engaging welcome to Congressman Adam Schiff on Monday.
Schiff was the first of a pair of politically minded speakers with perspectives falling on either side of the proverbial aisle to be invited to the school this year, said Christine Madsen, history department chair.
And, given the green light to get political, the U.S. Representative for California’s 28th District offered an in-person rendition of what’s currently airing on cable-news channels across America.
Schiff, a Democrat, spent much of his address attacking Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, and several of his statements drew cheers from the majority of the approximately 450 students filling Norris Auditorium. (The other 50 or so students who didn’t fit in the auditorium watched via a live feed in another part of campus.)
“I’m one of Secretary Clinton’s surrogates, so I’m speaking in different parts of the country and on the news, representing her views,” Schiff said. “And I have a friend who is a Trump surrogate doing the same thing. Whenever I see him, I say, ‘Jack, you have the hardest job in the world because you have to go on TV and make Donald Trump sound like he is competent and intelligent.’”
He also advocated for the Democratic nominee, calling Hillary Clinton “one of the most respected women in the world.”
And, as the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Schiff offered insight on the weekend’s bombings in New Jersey and New York, even catching students up on developments that happened while they were in class Monday morning.
“While you were in school, the police and FBI made an arrest of the lead suspect,” Schiff said. “I think the operating assumption at this point is that he was not operating alone, so there very well may be others in the New York and New Jersey area.
“But, obviously, we have a continuing challenge in dealing with terrorists, in dealing with homegrown radicalization, and people who are inspired by ISIS and al-Qaida to act out and attack people here,” Schiff added. “This is a challenge that’s going to go on, not only into this presidency but well into the next presidency and my guess is probably even beyond the next presidency.”
Schiff’s hourlong address also included a wide-ranging question-and-answer session with students.
“Nothing that would surprise him,” Madsen said. “I said to my students, ‘You’ve probably been at assemblies where a high school student tries to ask a ‘gotcha’ question of the politician and it never works, because he knows his stuff.’”
There was time for only four of Madsen’s government students to direct a question to the congressman, who ran out the clock with his lengthy, thoughtful responses on topical issues such as the death penalty, the Black Lives Matter movement, the Hillary Clinton email scandal and terrorism.
Senior Laura Ratliff asked, “After the horrible attacks in France, we’ve seen French support and increasing loss of liberty in the interest of safety. In light of the immense challenge of defending public spaces in the U.S. from terror, do you think the government is currently doing enough to protect us?”
Schiff’s response, in part, was: “The question really goes to the heart of this conflict between privacy and security; it’s a great question, it’s very timely and it’s a question where the answer is never going to be static. The answer today may be correct today and may be very different tomorrow. As these technologies change, our laws don’t really keep pace with them. For example, in the debate over encryption, we are nowhere near ready to decide how to respond to that legislatively.”
Afterward, Ratliff said she asked the question because, as a devoted French student, the terrorist attacks in that country captured her attention.
“It’s an issue I’ve looked into a lot myself, so I thought I might bring it up here,” she said. “I put in there the part about how it’s challenging with public spaces and I noticed how skillfully he moved over to the more [technological] side, because I recognize it’s a hard question to answer about public spaces.”
Madsen said this is the third time she’s seen Schiff, who assumed Congressional office initially in 2001, speak at Flintridge Prep. On one occasion, he spoke to 8th-graders, she said. On another, he participated in a debate-type forum regarding the imminent invasion of Iraq.
“It certainly was a partisan view,” she said. “But he’s someone who I think respects the process and wants to figure out some of these more difficult issues that we’re all trying to figure out.”

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