Two recent opinion columns in this paper reflect the best and the not so good, respectfully, in locally written pieces on the issue of race.
First, kudos and appreciation to The News-Review Editorial Board for its piece entitled “Call Racism What it is: Evil” for its unequivocal, clear condemnation of racism in America. It renewed my hope that The News-Review will write clearly on issues of national concern and provide a moral force in the Roseburg area community. Thank you, Editorial Board, and I hope you can extend a similarly lucid and constructive voice to other issues of concern to the community.
On the other hand, no kudos and no thanks to David Sayers for his muddled, confused and disjointed guest column “The American left–America’s new Taliban?” I don’t know whether or not the author chose this unfortunate title, but, in any case, the headline was inflammatory and unfair. What an outrageous comparison of (all? or the majority? or any significant fraction?) of progressives to the murdering, torturing, anti-American and vile Taliban.
Contrary to what Mr. Sayers suggests, I, as a progressive, do not, and will not in the future “tear down ancient temples, throw homosexuals off buildings, and behead people and stone women for whatever crimes (I) can imagine.” This claim/comparison is not only preposterously unhelpful but just as useless to understanding as the claiming that all conservatives, and all Trump supporters, are really all KKK, Nazis and Adolph Hitlers.
The “logic” of Mr. Sayers piece relies on holding all progressives responsible for the weakest thinking or worst behavior of anybody identified as a progressive or politically “left.” We need better and clearer thinking than that. His column goes even further afield in drawing on disconnected and unsupported claims about some on the political left and generalizing those claims to all progressives. In the process, Mr. Sayers manages to avoid identifying the Charlottesville proponents of the Robert E. Lee statue as self proclaimed Klan sympathizers, white supremacists and Nazis. When one member of this assemblage took it upon himself to run his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, it was argued, it was partially the fault of local civic leaders in Virginia because they should have “perceived that the (city’s decision to remove the statue would) “give rise to the turmoil and even death.”
This laying of responsibility with the city is hogwash. Mr. Sayers need not look so far afield to find blame, and his generally irrelevant laundry list of (even some partially justified) grievances against progressives will not help him locate where responsibility for this tragedy should be laid. For that he need look only so far as the racist mob, marching with their tiki torches.
I suggest that instead of trying to blame the left for the deaths and injuries he further reflect on the role of those people (whether or not well meaning) who tolerate, gloss over, or excuse the mob’s — and the participants’ — racist violence and murder.