Aberdeen Newspaper Lights up with Letters About Clare Lopez

My neighbor Kathy Schaunaman apparently didn’t like my blog post about Clare Lopez (who is getting far too much attention on my blog today). But instead of commenting here or on the Dakota Free Press Facebook page, she decided to write a letter to Aberdeen American News, which ran Tuesday under the heading “Blogger Disrespectful to Speaker“:

Women’s rights are human rights. Whether black or white, rich or poor, Republican or Democrat, man or woman — we are all human beings that deserve the dignity of respect in this day and age.

Cory Heidelberger’s recent comments on his Dakota Free Press blog of female speaker Clare Lopez being compared to a “pole dancer,” and other statements referring to her as simply a sex object, shows a level of disrespect not just toward one female but for all women. Our society should not tolerate this sort of sexist behavior from anyone. As the saying goes, “Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.”

Cory’s inability to discuss the ideas presented by a former CIA case officer and world-renowned intelligence specialist, Clare Lopez, is a statement in and of itself. But stooping to objectifying Lopez as a sex object is wrong and should never be tolerated in our society [Kathy Schaunaman, letter to the editor, Aberdeen American News, 2017.04.18].

The Aberdeen American News runs my response this morning:

In her April 18 letter, Kathy Schaunaman misreads my writing and misrepresents my character (“Blogger disrespectful to speaker,” Public Voice). The American News does a disservice to its readers by printing Schaunaman’s personal attack without printing the words I wrote that drew Schaunaman’s false assertions.

Letters to the editor usually address items that have appeared in the paper, not disagreements that arise between citizens in other venues. Printing Schaunaman’s letter about my blog post, which has never appeared or been mentioned in American News reporting makes about as much sense as printing a letter that I might write complaining about something my neighbor wrote on Facebook or said at the coffee shop.

I invite Kathy Schaunaman to apologize for her poor reading comprehension and the misrepresentations resulting therefrom. I invite American News readers to read the text that Schaunaman misread, the critique I posted online on April 6 of traveling speaker Clare Lopez’s dreary and deceptive conspiracy-theory slideshows. My text, titled “Anti-Islam Speaker Brings Propaganda Pole Dance to Aberdeen Tonight,” is available online on Dakota Free Press at http://bit.ly/lopezlies.

Thank you, dear readers, for going to the source, reading for yourselves, and making up your own minds [CAH, letter to the editor, Aberdeen American News, 2017.04.20].

Coincidentally, today’s AAN also features a letter from Jan Norby saying the racist rhetoric Lopez presented in Aberdeen deserved protest:

I wondered what would bring 200 people out to a recent meeting at the Dakota Event Center sponsored by the Americans First, Task Force. So, I did some research on their speaker, Clare Lopez, vice president for research and analysis for the Center for Security Policy.

The very first sentence stated Clare Lopez is a widely cited right-wing conspiracy theorist with ties to a number of hawkish policy institutes who formerly worked as a CIA operations officer. She is best known for her racist rhetoric about Muslims and her claims that the Muslim Brotherhood “infiltrated” the U.S. government and that President Obama “switched sides” on the war on terror. Lopez claims that her view of Islam is self-taught.

She is the author of a 2013 Gatestone Institute report alleging the group’s involvement in a decades-long plot to infiltrate the U.S. government and spread “Sharia law” like the Muslim Students Association and the Council on Islamic-American Relations, among other mainstream U.S.-based Muslim organizations.

I think this gives us a pretty clear picture of what 200 people came to listen to. Now I see why there were protesters outside the meeting. We should have been there supporting them! [Jan Norby, letter to the editor, Aberdeen American News, 2017.04.20]

The Aberdeen American News will gladly receive your letters to the editor at this link. I will gladly receive your comments below.

20 Responses to Aberdeen Newspaper Lights up with Letters About Clare Lopez

  1. mike from iowa

    I’m guessing your neighbor likes it even less today. Way to defend your honor and integrity, Master.

  2. bearcreekbat

    The comment I found most ironic in her letter was “Our society should not tolerate this sort of sexist behavior from anyone.” Except President Trump, apparently.

  3. Those were unfortunate comments made by Cory and he could have gotten his point across by not making them. I’ll call him out – shame on you Cory. Don’t treat women that way!

    It’s obvious from her twitter site that Lopez is on the extreme far right. She is an avid FOX news fan, a place that has been rampant with sexual harassment to women for years. She touts Joseph McCarthy as one of the best things to ever happen in Congress.
    I think everyone should question one’s political agenda but it sounds like Ms Lopez would fit right in with South Dakotans.

  4. Donald Pay

    Eehhhhh. I guess, Cory, you have to have a mind that can work out and understand a sophisticated and complicated metaphor to get your point. I don’t have a problem with your stripper scenario. I can see that you didn’t mean to imply anything sexually about Lopez, but applied the stripping metaphor to the reptilian response engendered in both audiences and the fact that both strippers and xenophobes appeal to the more primitive emotional centers. I guess it probably has a bit more punch for some because the Lopez is named Clare rather than Clarence. If Claire was Clarence (a rose that probably wouldn’t smell as sweet), and Clarence worked for Chippendales, I think some of the females might get it. Anyway, I learned in writing for a general audience it is best to aim at an eighth grade level. That means using simple metaphors. Too much erudition eludes too many of your readers.

  5. mike from iowa

    Cory is also dealing with Neanderthal thinking wingnut brains. Lordy it is 2017, time to get one political party’s members to enlarge their vocabularies and think outside the box of just say no.

    Why do these people pretend butthurt whenever someone drops a large word on them? Or a complicated idea like actually follow scripture if you want to impose wingnut’s kristianity on everyone.

  6. Well, Donald, my metaphor appears to have had the effect I intended. To be blunt, there’s no fixing willful stupid; there’s just annoying the heck out of it by pointing it out.

  7. Joe Nelson

    Well, you did compare her to a stripper. Even if it is a metaphor, it was still not the best thing. Not as bad as using a metaphor about Obama using an ape or monkey, but still not the best. Maybe circus barker would have been better? With a little tweaking, you could have used the same metaphor about a female pastor, peddling lies to her congregation (unless you now attest to the truth about the divinity of Jesus Christ and his resurrection).

    Heck, even if I met a stripper, I still would not say what you said. I would probably ask her about her reasons for being a stripper, and go from there. I certainly would not demean her by telling her so bluntly that she is a lie peddler and degrader of her audience’s character. It’s just not polite or civil.

  8. mike from iowa

    Patting Lopez on the back and congratulating her for denigrating all Muslims probably would not have conveyed the message that not all people agree with the venom she spits.

    Lopez is an adult who speaks her mind and is undoubtedly used to negative feedback, most likely a lot worse than she will ever hear from this blog. If she can’t handle the heat… you know the rest.

    Isn’t Cory entitled to his own opinions on his own blog?

  9. Joe Nelson

    mike from iowa,
    I fully endorse Cory sharing his opinion on his blog. And I am not saying he should have patted Lopez on the back.

    Sometimes Cory uses logic and reasoning to speak his mind when it is opposed to someone else’s mind (skills he may have picked up in Debate), where he seeks to perhaps convince and persuade his audience that the opposing party is wrong for reasons x, y, and z.

    Other times, he uses hyperbole, denigration, personal attacks, and fallacies, seeking perhaps to entertain his audience.

    He chose the latter tactic with his post about Lopez.

  10. Joe, the analogy does nothing that Kathy Schanuaman says it does. The analogy offers no sexism. The comparison does not objectify Lopez, though it certain objects to her tactics.

    Actually, the analogy is far more critical of those who attend the shows than those who perform them. Circus barker would thus not have been as apt an analogy, because those attend a circus are not as morally culpable as the attendees of either the pole dance or the Clare Lopez show. Lopez objectifies Muslims; she gets her audience to do the same. Lopez’s audience doesn’t come for mere harmless entertainment; they swallow Lopez’s lies as fact and proceed to write deceptive letters to the editor, vote for fearmongering candidates over qualified policymakers, and do other actual damage to civil society.

    If anything, yes, comparing Clare Lopez’s propaganda to pole dances is unfair to pole dancers. However, Joe, if we witness objectionable behavior that degrades civil society, is it not entirely civil to call out that behavior?

    I do agree with Joe, Mike that I cannot and should not hide behind the “everyone is entitled to his or her opinion” defense, any more than I would grant Lopez that defense for her objectionable speech, or Schaunaman that defense for her incorrect speech.

    However, Joe, I reject the accusation that I have used hyperbole, personal attack, or fallacy in my critique of Clare Lopez’s speech. I have described what she does as objectionable behavior, and I have described what her listeners do as objectionable as well. I stand unashamed by all of those statements.

  11. Joe Nelson


    —-Hyperbole – “exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.”

    You did not literally mean Lopez was a pole dancer, hence hyperbole.

    —-Personal attack and ad hominem (the fallacy)- “Making of an abusive remark on or relating to somebody’s person instead of providing evidence when examining another person’s claims or comments.”

    You called her a pole dancer in a strip club, instead of providing evidence disproving her claims.

    —-Association fallacy – “an informal inductive fallacy of the hasty-generalization or red-herring type and which asserts, by irrelevant association and often by appeal to emotion, that qualities of one thing are inherently qualities of another.”

    Instead of arguing against her arguments and assertions, you frame and associate her actions with stripping.

    As far as calling your blog post a critique, “a detailed analysis and assessment of something, especially a literary, philosophical, or political theory.”? Well, that is stretching the definition of the word, as you did not actually hear or see the content of her speech, nor provide examples in your post about what she might have said or has said previously.

    —-“Joe, if we witness objectionable behavior that degrades civil society, is it not entirely civil to call out that behavior?”

    I guess it depends on how one calls out the behavior, if it is done in a civil manner or not. I do not think it is ever civil to compare someone to a stripper (unless they are actually a stripper).

    It is not too difficult for me to imagine an atheist blogger somewhere in the blogosphere, who absolutely hates religion and thinks it is a degradation of society (so many wars and violence and abuse!), and that the people who fill the pews are sheeple filling their brains with lies and deception. Suppose this blogger wrote a post just like yours, but substituted Lopez’s name for your wife’s. Would you honestly not think that was a personally attack against her? You would look your wife in the eye and say that the blogger has nothing to be ashamed of?

  12. Roger Cornelius

    Hot damn, Cory. You sure have the pseudo-intellectuals stirred up on the Powers Dump Site and the long deceased sibbyonline is stumbling all over himself with condemnation of your pole dance reference.
    For the record, I had a couple of female friends read the blog and they didn’t think it was sexist at all, they thought it was creative and hilarious.
    What is sad about this whole thing is that the lies Clare Lopez peddles are tamped down and a pole dance metaphor takes over.
    Cory, I was surprised to see that you are able to comment on the Dump Site, I was itching to comment, but I’m still blocked. (here’s where I start whining like Sibson for being blocked at Dakota Free Press).

  13. Paul Thronson

    If the ANN is going to use you to step up interest, why the hell aren’t they just paying you? Maybe it’s just some good people over there want to give your blog some attention. Hopefully it worked. Keep up the great stuff. And I’m with you 100% – the only people that might deserve an apology are pole dancers.

  14. Joe, you agreed it was metaphor. That’s not exaggeration or hyperbole; that’s comparison. And as my co-host Spencer would argue, likening the propaganda show to pole-dancing may actually understate the ills Lopez and her listeners commit.

    Ditto on the personal attack: I made a detailed comparison critiquing what Lopez does.

    Association fallacy—nice try, but that doesn’t bar the use of comparison. Comparing one thing to another in detail, looking for the moral similarities, is a perfectly logical way to understand something.

    Civil? Good grief: I wrote it down. I didn’t go shout at the meeting. I didn’t force the message on anyone. I didn’t disrupt her ability to perform her show. I offered this critique in about as civil a fashion as possible.

    Also did not stretch the truth or deceive anyone, unlike Lopez and Schaunaman. In this case, I am the model of civility.

  15. Roger, I was surprised, too, that Powers let my comment through. I’m still in his moderation queue, so I left one or two comments and then said to heck with it. I’m just not that interested in laboring behind Pat’s filter. If he were interested in open, informative discussion, I might spend more time there. But even if he lifted the filter, I’d still be swatting at a herd of crude, insulting anonymi who aren’t worth my time. (Joe, if you’re looking for real hyperbole, personal attack, fallacy, and incivility, go read the DWC comment section—my Lopez post has nothing on their vileness.)

  16. Don Coyote

    @cah: “Joe, you agreed it was metaphor. That’s not exaggeration or hyperbole; that’s comparison.”

    A good metaphor depends on a suitable or appropriate analogy. Yours was not. And like the rest of your blog, your “metaphor” is also hyperbolic since it operates on an inappropriate analogy.

  17. No, Don, you just don’t like a metaphor that makes perfectly clear the moral ills of both the speaker and her all-too-eager audience. My comparison is painfully accurate.

  18. Porter Lansing

    Her audience consists of bullies, haters, hatemongers, dangerous loners and self-loathers. The same mindset as ISIL. Stirring up a crowd of these miscreants claiming to be directed by God, Allah or a divinity by any other name, known for their willingness to commit horrible and sadistic acts of violence should never go without ridicule and condemnation. Her appearance in South Dakota is akin to a jihadi infidel beheading and should be treated with equal repercussions.

  19. Gee, Porter—comparing Lopez and her listeners to Daech makes my pole-dancer analogy seem downright gentle.

  20. Porter Lansing

    Yeah … that was my intent, sir. Haters resemble haters darn near every time – no matter the religion – no matter the geographical region – no matter their simple minded, reflex reaction.