In response to the Republicans | Guest column

by Martha Fuller

The Republican Party guest editorial of Aug. 30, is thought provoking. At first read, I thought it was amusing, and easily dismissed. Reading it again, it’s really not.

It’s not amusing that the volunteers who staffed their booth at the San Juan County Fair felt intimidated, harassed and abused. Death threats to the president, spitting and “giving the finger” are absolutely not acceptable public discourse. I support the authors’ call for tolerance and civil, respectful interaction. I am still stunned at how little I recognized the issues that prompted fellow citizens to elect Donald Trump as president. I appreciate opportunities to understand those better – even though those interactions can sometimes be uncomfortable. The Republican booth at the fair should have presented such an opportunity.

I wonder, Republicans, about the wisdom of putting a cardboard cutout of the president at the booth. How does that advance your message? Cardboard cutouts invite the public to make fun, take silly pictures, and even deface them. It’s kind of like wearing your team’s jersey to an away game – you have to expect a measure of mockery from the home team fans.

The cutout represents explicit support, if not advocacy, for the president and his comments, behavior and actions. Don’t expect to be judged first as a friend and neighbor if you put out a symbol that suggests that you endorse what he’s said and done (those “events in far off places”). I respect your right to free speech. Shouldn’t we be thoughtful in its exercise and anticipate its outcomes?

Let’s be clear. The president has used the most vulgar and incendiary language possible, in public, to describe actions he’s taken and would take, or would like to see taken, on others. He has spoken in the most disparaging terms about women, immigrants, people of other faiths, people with disabilities, and veterans and their families. He doesn’t know them, any more than the fairgoers who said awful things to you Republicans. And, our president has made threats against members of those groups freely and indiscriminately – most of which he has not and hopefully cannot follow through on. He has lied to the public and equivocated on, if not outright rejected, principles that are fundamental to our democracy.

So – our Republican neighbors and friends would like to be treated better than the president they are venerating treats millions of people in our country. They seek a much higher standard of behavior from the rest of us than they do from him. Change the latter, and I expect the former will happen as well.