Desire for change is here — and growing

To the Editor:

I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to James Lemire, Patricia Sibilia, CiCi Ferrara, and Bob Hoffman for sharing their insights and feelings at the Aug. 9 Anti-racism/Black Lives Matter rally in Berne [“Peaceful, homegrown Black Lives Matter rally draws 140 to Berne,” The Altamont Enterprise, Aug. 10, 2020].

I also wish to thank all who attended — it was wonderful to see so many people embracing the goal of ridding our country of the scourge of racism.

I realize that rallies and marches alone are not going to change things — this week a Black man was shot in the back by police in Wisconsin while his children watched in horror. But attendance and support for peaceful marches and rallies does show our elected officials that the desire for change is here and it is growing. 

I wish that the counter-protesters who came to our event had heard our inspiring speakers. I suggested they come in, asking that they wear masks. They chose not to, because they chose not to wear masks. I wish now that I had suggested an alternative — that they come to hear the speakers but stand outside the pavilion. I don’t think anyone could have listened to those speakers and been unaffected. 

I would like to point out that several counter-protesters I spoke to declared they were against racism also. They said their objections were only to the Black Lives Matter movement, which they seemed certain was a violent movement wreaking havoc and destroying property.

I would have liked to present them with facts and figures disputing that false notion, but the rally was not the place to try to have a discussion. They also claimed to be worried that we represented Antifa. My reaction to that was that the counter-protesters must be absorbing a very high level of misinformation.

It has been widely reported that the majority of Black Lives Matter protests are peaceful. Besides that, to entertain the notion that the people they could see walking in to our peaceful rally might turn around and burn down or trash the war memorial (built by a young man at the rally as an Eagle Scout project and showing the names of the fathers and grandfathers of many of the attendees) indicates to me a willingness to suspend belief in what is in front of their eyes in exchange for the misinformation and conspiracy theories being pushed on social media. 

The negative effect of misinformation and conspiracy theories among Americans has the potential to undermine our democracy, along with pitting neighbors against one another. And while the far-right appears to be more gullible, accepting as truth notions that one would think anyone would realize were nonsense, it is not unheard of among some on the far left to believe castigations of the right without questioning the veracity.

I have seen this on Facebook and I try always to note to friends that they should fact check before sharing information, especially if it’s inflammatory.

It is the responsibility of all Americans to address the problems of racism in our society, whether we live in a diverse community or not. And it is equally a responsibility for all of us to read and become informed about our history, our government, and our political system. 

Laurie Searl


More Letters to the Editor

The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.