I have been an Independent politically for my entire life. Neither of the major parties has won me over enough to identify with either. There are good policy views on both ends of the spectrum, and there are good people on both ends, too.
However, the Republican Party has a long way to go in restoring its reputation, or having any chance of winning me over at the voting booth. A major reason why: its coddling, enabling and outright support of soon-to-be ex-President Trump. As has been well documented, our 45th President has waged a ruthless and relentless assault on truth and longstanding norms that are essential to our country’s survival as a viable democracy.
Although it was somewhat understandable that GOP rank-and-file leaders tolerated Trump before the election three weeks ago, any Republican official who has not clearly and strongly denounced Trump’s behavior since then is now absolutely complicit in engaging in traitorous, despicable conduct.
Locally, on the far left end of the political spectrum, another gut-check has arrived for my neighbors in Oak Park, one of the most politically liberal communities in the country.
Since 2013, I have been an elected official in Oak Park, first through my four-year term on the library board and then my current tenure on the District 200 Oak Park and River Forest High School Board of Education. In that time, I have observed some of the most staunch anti-Trumpers exhibit the same repellent qualities of intolerance, bullying and racially charged rhetoric that they (accurately) ascribe to Trump.
Last year, I referred to this approach in the aftermath of one Village Trustee’s embarrassing tirade, in which she “seized on differences in gender, race and any other characteristics as a cudgel to silence and diminish others and their points of view.”
The latest episode occurred this past weekend, when a resident referred to Village Trustee Dan Moroney as a white supremacist. That’s bad enough. But it was exacerbated by eight others who “liked” or “loved” the comment about a man who has become a friend over the past four years. While Dan and I disagree on plenty of political points, I know his character well enough to see the comment for what it is: outrageous, irresponsible and slanderous.
Those who fanned the “white supremacist” labeler’s hateful flames behaved much the same as those Republican politicians who have shamefully cowered under Trump’s bullying shadow. These local enablers have so much more to gain by pushing back against the comment, while issuing civil critiques that they may see in Dan’s stance on issues or his overall philosophy of governance. By taking that measured, mature approach, they would bolster, rather than damage, their credibility.
I responded with this letter to the editor of the local newspaper, closing it with questions that I urge anyone reading these words to take to heart. Will you denounce hateful remarks that are beyond the pale, even–or perhaps especially–when they come from those with whom you agree politically?
When You See Something, Will You Say Something?
If you saw someone dump a duffel bag in the middle of a crowded gathering, then scurry away, would you simply move along and not say anything? Or would you speak up?
This weekend, commenting on a Wednesday Journal story posted on the newspaper’s Facebook page, a community member branded Oak Park Village Trustee Dan Moroney a white supremacist.
When that hateful comment–and the eight people who “liked” or “loved” it– came to my attention, I took a “when you see something, say something” approach. Anyone who had encountered those words was a witness to a form of terrorism: a vile, false accusation and character assassination that must not go unanswered.
Terrorism is defined as “the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.” The attack on Moroney, while not unlawful, is emotional and psychological violence. And it is part of a longstanding local pattern of intimidation that is “in the pursuit of political aims.”
In short, this slanderous Oak Parker—and those who cheered on her remark with their “likes” and “loves”—want to bully Moroney and his family so that he won’t run for re-election.
These tactics are nothing new. Over the past four years, this local far-left Progressive bloc with unmistakable political aims has engaged in a steady drumbeat of baseless character assassinations against anyone who does not toe the Progressive line. If you are not with them all the way, not only are you against them, but you are also a racist or, at minimum, hell-bent on preserving the racist status quo.
Indirectly by innuendo and blatantly, as in this recent episode, this intimidation squad has resorted to smear tactics that send a signal to potential candidates: enter civic life at your own peril, because we have a duffel bag of goodies with your name on it, too.
Some observers say the campaign season for the Spring 2021 municipal elections gets under way soon. Not true. For quite some time now, an extreme, intolerant and hypocritical band of “Hate Has No Home Here” rogue warriors have been campaigning 24/7.
Any honorable local candidate will unequivocally condemn their despicable methods. Will they? And what about you, fellow Oak Parker? When you see something, will you say something?