Injustices and reparations

Former Latah County commissioner candidate and current alt-right YouTuber Gabriel Rench would like you to know that his right to potentially spread disease in our community during a pandemic will not be abridged.

Last September, chafing under the regime of a city government that asked its citizens to show compassion during a pandemic, Mr. Rench led a protest indicating that he would do no such thing.

Rench and his followers assembled downtown to flout the city’s masking and social distancing ordinances. In a stroke of genius, they sang hymns while breaking the law, to pretend that by performing a religious and a criminal act at the same time, their crime was elevated to the status of worship.

Rench and a few others were cited, then arrested but not charged when they allegedly refused to identify themselves. Rench’s publicity stunt did not seem to have the desired effect. Latah County voters rejected his bid for county commissioner, despite promises of fewer restrictions on disease-spreading and lower taxes.

Rench is now filing a lawsuit that aims to transfer some of those precious tax dollars from the city’s bank account to his own. His assertion? He and his fellow arrestees are owed “reparations” for the inconvenience of being arrested.

If anyone in our nation’s history is owed reparations for injustices, surely it is poor Mr. Rench.

If he loses, Rench assures, tax dollars will be spent on the city’s legal defense. If he wins, he might get some of those tax dollars for himself and cripple the city’s ability to defend itself from other willful disease spreaders.

In a community that has largely responded to a pandemic with compassion and care for our most vulnerable citizens, Mr. Rench’s dedication to spreading disease at any cost is, if not admirable, at least impressively dogged.

Andrew Hoehn


Grassroots opportunity to listen

In response to Glenn Richey’s letter “Pop Quiz” (March 16), I recommend answering questions like these by attending a free Red/Blue Workshop offered by Braver Angels. Braver Angels is a national citizens’ movement bringing liberals and conservatives together at the grassroots level. We work to “understand each other beyond stereotypes, form community alliances and reduce the vitriol that poisons our civic culture.” Braver Angels seeks to depolarize American politics.

The group was originally called Better Angels, as referred to in Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address in 1861 when the nation was on the brink of Civil War. He appealed to the “better angels of our nature” to heal the nation. The name was changed to Braver Angels to meet today’s crisis: We need more than civility. We need to challenge ourselves to work together when we disagree.

A red/blue workshop has two intensive online sessions, usually one week apart, with equal numbers of red (conservative or Republican-leaning) and blue (liberal or Democratic-leaning) citizens. There are moderated activities and structured discussions to increase understanding, reduce stereotyped thinking, clarify disagreements, build relationships and find common ground.

The sessions use listening and learning rather than declaring and debating.

Go to the Braver Angels website, click on “Find an Event,” look for one labeled “National,” which means it is open to anyone in the nation, and register. Workshops fill up fast, but there is generally room for red-leaning participants in all their workshops. Mr. Richey would be welcomed heartily.

Kathy Dawes


In our right voting minds

Before we know or decide what is right or wrong, good or evil, best or worst — we should think: if we adopt or support this rule, law, policy or belief, who benefits? All or most of us — or only some of us?

Before we think Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jew; before we think Republican or Democrat; right or left; red or blue; capitalist or socialist — which of us will benefit if this new rule, law, or policy is adopted?

It seems to me that after 80-plus years, I have almost always been opposed to principles that benefit only a small segment of our society. If my minister says that queers cannot worship in my church, there cannot be any truth in her. I would shake her dust off my feet and change my congregation. If my chief executive, senator or representative says perpetrators of voter fraud, say, must have their voting rights — their access to the ballot — restricted, there can be no truth in them, either. In the next two weeks, we can shake some of that dust off our feet by making two daily phone calls to our Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch in Washington D.C. Say to each person or message machine reached: “Please vote for S1 to protect the votes of all of us, including those of your voters in upcoming elections.”

Ronald Hufham


Heartsick for Boulder

As I write this, I am listening to the news from Boulder, Colo., of a live shooter at King Soopers on Table Mesa Drive. I live in Moscow, but this shooting feels personal. For a decade, my mother was in assisted living, only three blocks from King Soopers. I bought flowers for her at King Soopers whenever I visited. I know the entire layout of that store, and I wonder in what aisle I might have been when the shooting started. For once, I truly understand.

The CBS news anchors fill empty space as the story unravels. We know it by heart: “Senseless violence, multiple fatalities, prayers, support and healing.” Healing? How dare they ask us to heal, again, and again, and again?

While I listen, I write a check to Everytown for Gun Safety, their donation request letter, ironically, arrived in the mail today. I sign Everytown’s gun safety petitions to Idaho congressmen Russ Fulcher, Crapo and Risch. We are screaming into gridlocked ears, but what else can we do?

We are still suffering through the pandemic and months of post-election insanity. Yet, for a year, there was one positive result in our crazed world — mass shootings seemed to go dormant.

Now, spring has come, and out of dormancy, the shooters. When our precious children are back in school “safely,” protected from COVID-19, how will we protect them from the pandemic of shooters unrestrained, carrying death into the classroom?

Flags are flying at half-mast, to honor the eight victims of last week’s mass shooting in Georgia. President Biden will surely order the flags to remain at half-mast, to honor this week’s 10 victims in Colorado. Without comprehensive gun safety laws, it is clear. Half-mast will remain with us for a long, long time.

Lisa Kliger


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