Editor: I would like to address the Loudoun County Republican Committee’s pathetic attempt to suppress free speech and non-violent dissent in their recent press release attacking Loudoun County Board Chair Phyllis Randall’s attendance at the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21.
Randall has nothing to apologize for in her attendance at a peaceful protest, nor should she be required to denounce the speeches made there in order to pass the Republican purity test. As anyone who listens to WMAL will tell you, no member of the Democratic party will ever pass that bar, and to seek to assuage and mollify the fascist fringe that has hijacked the Republican establishment will only seek to embolden them and cause them to increase their bullying tactics.
As a matter of course, anyone who doesn’t fit the Republican conservative mold of a “true” patriot is labeled as a leftist, a thug and a socialist who hates America. Having been raised in a conservative family, I’m all too familiar with the hateful rhetoric and abusive tactics that the Republican party has embraced with such relish. Rush Limbaugh was a fixture in my house every day. My advice to Democratic politicians would be that perhaps the poison is the cure, and encourage them to push back upon the Republicans their own hypocrisy and lies at every turn with equal vigor.
This week, Mark Levine of WMAL made no distinction between the violent actions of a small band of anarchists during the inauguration Saturday afternoon and the groundswell of love, equity and respect that was the hallmark of the Women’s March on Sunday. One was an attack on local property. The other was a peaceful, thoughtful expression of concern and resistance. Of the hundreds of thousands who came to D.C. Sunday, there was not a single arrest, not a single incident of destroyed property. Protesters shook hands with police, hugged them and thanked them, then placed their placards on the White House fence and left in an orderly fashion.
To Levine—and surely to many Republicans who don’t know or care to know the difference—they were all the same. Leftists. Agitators. Socialists. America haters. In fact, the marchers came from all walks of life and across party lines as concerned Americans to practice their freedom of speech and defend their civil liberties.
The LCRC referred to it as the “so-called” Women’s March on Washington. I suggest that you are “so-called” patriots. Not only is your recent press release a puerile, ham-fisted attempt to destroy local people with slander—your neighbors and colleagues—it seems that you’ve taken this opportunity to joyfully flex your new set of claws on behalf of Big Brother. I think the “vileness on display” with which this committee is so concerned has nothing to do with the language that one presenter out of 20 used in her short (and inconsequential) speech. I think what this committee finds truly vile is that so many people would dare oppose the oppressive social agenda and narrow vision of America you choose to represent.
What I find vile is that members of the Republican party would use our first amendment rights as leverage against their own community. That is, frankly, the last straw for me. We may have to suffer such profanity from the White House for the next four years, but I hope the citizens of Loudoun will make every attempt to thwart that rhetoric here at home.
I applaud Randall, Northam, Herring and Saines for attending the march and exercising their conscience. I fully support these legislators practicing their Constitutional rights as citizens and am proud that they have contributed to such a great day. As such, I throw my political support behind these candidates and hope that others will do the same. In return for my endorsement, I only ask that our local politicians not be cowed by the disdain of a small but vocal group of radical fascists on the right and continue to work for equity and justice professionally, politically and personally.
Will Estrada, Chairman of the Loudoun County Republican Committee, who suggested “rhetoric like this has absolutely no place in American politics,” should take his own advice. Perhaps he would be better served by turning off conservative talk radio— which spews a nonstop torrent of hatred, cynicism and half-truths between commercials for credit counseling— and attempting to understand and respect his neighbors and the moral underpinnings of their varied beliefs.
I am disappointed in the Republican party, which has turned its face away from the ideals of Lincoln, away from a pragmatic economic vision, from the shining city on a hill and the soft bigotry of low expectations—and has metamorphosed into a twisted nanny state obsessed with curtailing personal freedoms and groveling to the fascists, white supremacists, oligarchs and Russian apparatchiks they’ve elected as the standard-bearers for us all. This is what should not be “tolerated” in our society. And millions of people gathered around the country and around the world in solidarity to agree.
The “lapse in judgement” here would be for the members of the Loudoun County Republican Committee to forget that representatives are elected at the pleasure of the people. The popular majority here and nationally did not vote Trump. We will remember being called leftist liberal agitators when the time comes to cast our ballots.
Yolanda Reyes, Round Hill