In a letter to the editor published March 16 in the online edition of Current, a local resident made personal attacks against me in an effort to disparage and discredit the Facebook group I admin, which is dedicated to inclusivity in the Carmel schools.
Even a brief perusal of the actual public comments under discussion would show his attacks to be unfounded. He claimed that I cast unwarranted aspersions on the women who posed in front of Stars-and-Bars-inspired bunting to announce their launch of a local branch of Moms for Liberty. He writes that I “insinuat(ed) that these Carmel neighbors and mothers are fascist, racist, antisemitic and divisive,” saying that I ignored “historical experts and simple research” when I explained that the bunting they were posing in front of was a favorite of the fascist, racist and antisemitic “America First” movement of the 1930s and was popular in no other context.
As the letter writer should surely have known since he read my comments, I am, in fact, a history professor. All I did in my comments was to give my professional, fact-based assessment of the flag and to parse the impact of these local women proudly posing in front of it.
Notably, rather than leveling accusations of fascism, racism, or antisemitism against these women, I maintained throughout that they were most likely simply ignorant of American history and the way that their chosen symbolism would send chills down the spines of already-marginalized members of our community who (because we are of necessity attuned to the symbolism of hate groups) are aware of what it typically signifies.
And even though it might make someone less qualified to run for a school board position or dictate education policy, ignorance is not a vice unless it becomes willful.
I absolutely believe in civility and fact-based argumentation, and I agree with the letter writer that “perfidious media attacks” should have no place in our local discourse. We should all be above engaging in “hollow and disingenuous attempts to discredit those with whom (we) disagree.” And so I respectfully suggest that the letter writer might want to pause and search his own heart before again engaging in public discourse.
Diane Hannah, Carmel