As we move forward...But whatever our differences, no one wins when the dialogue is suspended — or as in Duluth, we forget that safety, respect and dignity are the birthright of every person.
By: Tammy Francois, Lake County News Chronicle
Last week, something very disturbing occurred in Duluth on Election Day. On a busy thoroughfare someone tied a noose around an effigy of President Barack Obama and hung it over an electronic billboard. It was a shocking reminder of the extremes in thinking that are a reality among some in our country and in our region.
The effigy was approximately three feet tall and wore a mask depicting the president’s face.
Sadly, no one has been arrested in the incident, but the NAACP has called upon the authorities to find the individuals responsible and charge them with a hate crime and making terroristic threats.
“I am troubled by the fact that at a time when America was electing, making history by giving a second term to an African American president … that someone would perpetrate this type of crime,” said Claudie Washington of the Duluth chapter of the NAACP.
Duluth Police Department spokesman Officer Russ Bradley said that the DPD has already contacted the Secret Service and the FBI.
For years, Duluth has grappled with its history. Many decades ago, three black men were lynched downtown by a mob of people as many looked on. Although a memorial stands near the site of the lynching, it appears that this was not reminder or warning enough of the inhumanity and violence of which we, as a society are capable.
I am not particularly naïve and I’ve lived on the planet long enough to know that there is good and not-so-good in all of us. I’ve certainly seen the not-so-good in myself. But this recent event chills my blood.
I recently received a letter from someone who questioned whether I was “ too meek to take a position” because the News-Chronicle published an editorial before the election that poked a little fun at media endorsements of candidates. We didn’t endorse a candidate, a decision I made shortly after I started at the Chronicle, because I was aware that there are many things I don’t know about the community. I felt it would be presumptuous of me to make a statement endorsing a candidate after having been here for just a few months. Did I have my own opinions about the candidates? Sure I did. Do I know for whom I would have voted? Absolutely. However, I felt that I could best serve the interests of the community by providing a forum for candidates and constituents so that voters had an opportunity to make their own decisions. I don’t regret it.
So, meek? No, not really. In fact, I am very passionate about political and social issues, but the contest for the seat of mayor of Two Harbors was between the candidates and those with the responsibility for electing him or her.
There are issues, however, for which we all have the responsibility to try to resolve. There were many differing opinions heading into the election — not just about mayoral candidates. It is clear that there is a deep divide between political parties and how we should go about addressing the economic, social and global problems we face. But whatever our differences, no one wins when the dialogue is suspended — or as in Duluth, we forget that safety, respect and dignity are the birthright of every person.
The political and economic climates are going to be bumpy for a while, but let’s keep our eyes on the fact that the real goal has nothing to do with money. It has to do with community — a place for everyone.