I’ve responded here to two recent letters to the Aberdeen American News, one racist letter last week calling for shipping all people of “other cultures” to the penitentiary, then one letter this week promoting fear and the surveillance state.
In a letter to the editor published in today’s AAN (with links added here for enhanced blog enjoyment), I tie these letters and our Republican legislators together and call for real courageous citizenship:
A letter-writer tells us to report all sorts of “nothing” to law enforcement (“Be brave, speak out,” Public Voice, Oct. 18). Oddly, that call for a hyper-vigilant surveillance state lacks any examples of the “nothings” the writer has seen around Aberdeen to prompt her terror.
Permit me to provide some “somethings” that warrant genuine concern.
Another letter-writer in the Oct. 12 paper calls for rounding up “people of other cultures” in Aberdeen and sending them on buses, without any vetting or due process, to the penitentiary (“People we don’t need,” Public Voice).
Who has spoken up against that harmful prejudice?
Such prejudice sounds like an off-shoot of the dreary anti-immigrant slideshows that have sullied Aberdeen almost monthly since 2017. At one such meeting this August, a Watertown legislator claimed that Aberdeen’s mayor, economic development chief, and chamber of commerce are all collaborating with an international terrorist conspiracy. At other meetings, out-of-state speakers have accused local church leaders and social workers of terrorist collaboration.
Our local legislators have regularly attended these anti-immigrant meetings. I have yet to hear any of those legislators stand up for our Aberdeen leaders, businesses, churches and neighbors and rebut these vile, baseless accusations.
Such prejudicial, spiteful talk sounds a lot like the racial epithets that juveniles in Sturgis circulated on social media last week. That bad behavior cost Sturgis kids their homecoming parade and football game. But when adults in Aberdeen spout such nonsense, and when good neighbors don’t speak up against it, we don’t lose a parade. We lose reputation. We lose students, workers, residents, and dollars … not to mention our humanity.
Be brave. Be a good citizen. Turn your wishbone into backbone and speak out against the racism, ignorance and false fearmongering that imperil our Constitution, our American ideals, and our community prosperity.