What happens in the courthouse...

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor,

I read “Community Members Look Forward to 2011” in Saturday’s Daily Record while following the awful news from Arizona about the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the killing and wounding of 19 others. There appears to be no political motivation, only insanity, behind the attack.

Even so, my thoughts went back to the past couple of years in our own community. I thought about the drawing of President Obama with crosshairs on his forehead that briefly appeared on an Ellensburg business owned by a Republican Precinct Committee Officer.1 Of course I thought about the Manweller-Huber incident at the radio station, which started with Mr. Manweller’s fabricated on-air story about Linda Huber’s behavior at the Rodeo Parade.2

National events affected our community, too. We witnessed Sarah Palin’s unceasing and calculated use of violent verbal and graphical imagery, and Sharron Angle’s “Second Amendment remedy” comment.3

I thought about the three discussions of health care reform that I organized in the fall of 2009, after a summer of frightening town hall meetings that were disrupted by Tea Party members. Jimmie Applegate graciously accepted my invitation to be the speaker at the third meeting. The first meeting drew nearly 100 people, a few of them disruptive Tea Party members, including Kirk Groening.4 I thought about how I had been too naïve to invite the police, but an officer had come anyway. I thought about how someone tried to get library administrators to withdraw permission for more meetings in the Hal Holmes Center.

The “Look Forward” article also included recollections of 2010, and featured comments from Mr. Applegate and Mr. Groening; not one, but two other interviewees mentioned the Manweller-Huber incident.5 Mr. Applegate recalled that people had said mean things about Republicans on Daily Record comment forums, and Mr. Groening remembered the Tea Party candidates’ forum in Kittitas. I remember that forum, too. Mr. Applegate was the timekeeper, and one of the speakers was a Tea Party candidate for the state House who was running against the principled Republican incumbent solely because of his vote in favor of a gay rights bill.

When the unthinkable happens, it’s hard not to remember things like this. The violence in Arizona doesn’t seem to have been political, but it reminds us to behave, at a minimum, in ways we won’t be ashamed to have recalled later.

Steve Verhey

1This person, while a frequent Daily Record letter writer, isn't a public person in the same way as the other people named here, so I won't name him. I don't know how long the poster/drawing had been up when I saw it; it disappeared while I went to get a camera. I should have called the Secret Service immediately.
2I wrote briefly about this incident on this blog.
3Is it fair to bring this up? Yes: I am not suggesting that Palin's or Angle's behavior had anything to do with this tragic incident, but it is factual to say that they did behave in certain ways that are relevant to a discussion of violence.
4Here is the Daily Record's article about the first meeting. And here is a Guest Comment I published in the Daily Record before the third meeting.
5One of the people who mentioned the Manweller-Huber incident directly linked it to the recent rise of incivility.