Working for a newspaper, we’re among the first to defend people’s right to freedom of expression. However, that right certainly doesn’t guarantee good taste.
Okanogan County Commissioner Jim DeTro crossed that barrier when he shared a post of a semi-tractor trailer with a damaged front end and blood on its cab and the words “Just drove through Minneapolis. Didn’t see any protesters” (see Sandra Vaughn’s letter this week). It was certainly in poor taste, especially in light of the fact that an actual semi-truck later was recorded pushing its way down the freeway through protesters.
The commissioner discussed the matter at last Monday’s Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting. He went on about how it was obvious that it was just a picture of a truck that had hit a large animal. From his years of experience as a truck driver he knew what kind of damage would cause a scene like that.
We know DeTro leans well to the right of center and that’s obvious from some of his past actions on the BOCC. He has the right to his opinion, but at the commissioners’ meeting he tried to pass the image off as just someone’s post showing an obvious image that hadn’t anything to do with hitting people who were demonstrating against police violence against people of color. In the light of what happened in August of 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia when a white supremacist ran through a group of demonstrators killing one, the post certainly caused many people to cringe.
To think that it was a commentary on a truck hitting a large animal would mean you were pretty naive or couldn’t read. It was certainly shared to evoke a reaction, which it got, but not in a good way. It was a dog whistle, shared to get a wink out of like-minded thinkers.
While defending his actions, DeTro took the time to talk about the hypocrites on the left. He’s right, there are hypocrites on the left, just like on the right. The violence that comes out of the frustration of another person of color being killed by police is wrong. The family of the victim, through George Floyd’s brother, asked that those protesting do so peacefully and put an end to the violence. Those who burned cars and looted buildings were opportunists and could just as easily have been on the right as the left. Calling yourself an anarchist just means you don’t have to chose a side.
We live in a rural area, where for years racism, mostly against Native Americans, and now often against Hispanics, has been treated like a joke. Also, for years, many good people have been afraid to say enough is enough — people are just people and usually want the same things from life. You see folks that you know have friends in all cultures, but are afraid to stand up against institutionalized racism when they see it or hear it. Our county has people many colors and cultures — we should revel in the things that make us the same, as well as the things that make us different.