Sunday, December 16, 2007

A State Too Great for Hate?

Sweeping some of Idaho's racist problems under the carpet because it seems to belong to a small section of the populace, or because it's so nonsensical it appears unbelievable, allows the problem to persist and even grow. I believe that has happened with the racist letter that I wrote about in my previous blog (and thanks to Bubblehead for pointing out that it was eventually put on the Bonners Ferry Herald website). I was going to leave the following as a response to the other comments on the last blog, but it seemed more important to write about racism in Idaho again. I hope that many others chip in their two cents because if we want to understand Idaho, we need to understand its problems as well as appreciate its positive qualities.

Unfortunately for Idaho, although members of the Obama campaign thanked me for the information about the Herald letter, they seem to think that because the mis-information contained in this letter has been circulating for some time, and because it has been exposed and debunked elsewhere, it was not important to respond to the Herald, its publisher, and its owner. I think they missed the point, especially for Idaho if not elsewhere in the U.S. Many of the people who believe this nonsense are Republican members of fundamentalist churches who send their members in large numbers to the polls. I know for two reasons: living in a small rural town is like living in a glass house; and, I have been a poll watcher for several elections. For a newspaper to publish this kind of vitriol is encouragement for these people; thus, more fundamentalist Republicans will be at the polls voting the straight Republican ticket. But does our local newspaper, published by a Republican, and owned by a corporation whose owner and CEO is a Republican, do the citizens a service by publishing such blatant partisan letters? This paper has also published a number of opinion articles, news releases and so forth on behalf of Bill Sali. But do Democrats get their news releases published? You guessed that one. Rarely. Indeed, the publisher of this paper, in the last publication before the last election, printed an article that cast aspersions on a candidate who had a good chance of winning an Idaho Congressional seat. Did the article hurt the candidate? One cannot prove it but the candidate did lose. Not to mention the editor who supposedly was fired because he came out in favor of Jerry Brady for Governor....

But I digress... it is the blatant racism used here for political purposes that needs to be addressed. And, by the way, the Herald did not publish my response letter; instead the publisher wrote an opinion apologizing for "letting such a ill-informed, hate-filled letter run in our community newspaper." That was good. But what really puzzles me is that the letter, which wasn't on the Herald website on the printed day of publication, eventually made it there. This just provided more damaging grist against Obama and the Obama campaign. Oh, and the editor who allowed the letter to be published in the first place is still at her job....

It's bad enough that in a state "too great for hate," we do have this kind of racism. But what is really unfortunate is that we haven't addressed it strongly enough; indeed, Idaho Republicans' obsession with English as the "official language" is not only insulting to our immigrants but, I would suggest, racist as well. We do finally celebrate Martin Luther King Day in our schools, but what has occurred in the recent past with students who were educated in Boundary County (a girl thrown into a bonfire because her mother is a practicing Muslim) indicates, to me at least, that Boundary County needs more than Martin Luther King Day.... Although north Idaho has pretty much rid itself of large Aryan Nation groups, their brand of racism persists. And I believe that this occurs around the entire United States, not just north Idaho. And I think that one reason is because much of this racism comes from Republicans. A case in point: consider the action of the College Republicans at Boise State University who created anti-immigrant games and ran racist anti-immigrant ads. I have never heard nor read about a Democrat who has engaged in such racist acts. I think it's about time that the issue of racism be made a public debate, and if it takes having an Obama running for the presidency, then I, for one, am grateful he's running.

Idahoans, if you're not outraged at these acts of racism, then you aren't paying attention.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

THanks for sharing your commentary...I totally support everything that you posted. It will be a long haul here in Idaho to "broaden" narrow mindsets of "righteousness"...however, I DO believe in miracles! And I believe in the perfection of Barack Obama's 'walk and talk' matching, that even if not elected, people will know how special he really is! Everyone needs to remember how much he believed in Idaho, to invest time and money to offer these seeds of change and of hope...There is an uncanny parallel in Christianity inwhich Jesus believed enough in the lost soul and loved them just as much as the one who was already spiritually aware....I hope that such a simple and basic message can penetrate each and every person who can't seem to get that !!

ReggieH said...

Just stumbled across your blog[at first, I thought it was a geology blog or something], and felt compelled to leave a comment. As an Obama supporter, I feel it necessary to thank you profusely for responding to that retch-ingly nasty letter to the editory. Again, thank you so very much.