July 9, 2020
The Waitsburg Times Publisher has this to say after attending the Peace Rally in Walla Walla:
“The topic of our country’s systemic racism and its effects on people of color is difficult to hear.”
She continues, “It was a big reminder that we must listen, truly listen, to voices other than our own. Listening without feeling the need to respond or debate.”
This is awful advice. What if those “voices other than our own” are spewing bad ideas? Bad ideas that meet with no response or debate tend to turn into implemented bad ideas, bad policy. And what is wrong with debate? Civil debate between free thinkers is part of the bedrock of a thriving society. When all the contrary voices are hectored, shushed, and muzzled into complete silence, there will only be one viewpoint spoken. Don’t like it? Better learn to.
I don’t think the publisher was envisioning anything Orwellian when she told us how important it is not to debate, instead she was just succumbing to this ridiculous new trend of performative self-flagellation, in which the performer insinuates all manner of evil and privilege on themself and then falls in a weeping heap at the feet of some presumed offendee, begging absolution for uncommitted crimes and thoroughly embarrassing themselves. The Waitsburg Times version is a little more subtle, but just as insulting. And not insulting to me, rather to the person who is presumed too delicate, ignorant, or dimwitted to back up an argument in a debate.
The publisher concludes with an excerpt of Dakotah Fryatt’s speech from the Peace Rally in Walla Walla. It is an interesting speech, but at the end she says something unintentionally ominous, beckoning all those gathered to, “Please don’t leave the same way you came.” My guess is, considering the type of person that attends a Peace Rally, that Ms. Fryatt—along with the rest of us—really does not want what that would really mean. It’s a good lesson, though. Before we eagerly march with the crowds and the noise to the drumbeat of indiscriminate change, best to make a profound examination of what we’re actually changing. And if it happens to be something valuable, stop apologizing for it and defend it.
Feel free to respond to the ideas in this letter. Debate them, even.