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Sat Aug 19, 2017, 05:57 PM

Dear Senator Sasse

Dear Senator Sasse:

I took a few moments out of my day to comment on your Facebook post. Please be kind to the intern that , doubtless, did the actual writing of the piece.

We have neglected the American Idea for a very long time. We haven't done civics well in this country for decades, and we are reaping the consequences. We are a hollow people. We have "a whole lot of pluribus and very little unum," to quote Ken Burns.

Hmmm. Quoting Burns was a nice touch, but really who are you fooling here? Civics taught me that the bedrock of our democracy is voting, and yet the party to which you belong wants to make it more difficult than ever for those not blessed with stable homes to exercise that right. Civics taught me that the President nominates Supreme Court justices, and the Senate approves them; yet when Merrick Garland was nominated by President Obama, the Senate wouldn't even give the courtesy of an up and down vote. Civics taught me that no one in Government is above the law - not even the President.

2. America is first and foremost an Idea – that all people are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights. This universal human dignity is because God made us; it's not because of our race, or our wealth, or even our religious beliefs, as important as disagreements about theology are.

3. White supremacy and racism are un-American, period.

I'll agree with those two points; however, I'll ask in return: 1) whose creator? Because it seems like we've lost our damn minds over people who believe that Mohammed is the one true prophet of their creator. And we've lost our damn minds in a bizarre way -- by not allowing refugees from places like Syria to come in to the US, but being completely OK with people from Saudi Arabia (where the masterminds of 9-11 came from) to enter. 2) if we agree that white supremacy is bad and unAmerican, then why don't you and others of my fellow Nebraskans get why African Americans would get angry over what seems like a pretty clear pattern of systematic violence by white cops. Why does BLM threaten you folks so much? It's not like they dress up in pointy hats and thrown together uniforms and come to rallies openly carrying AR-15s -- like white supremacist groups do.

4. The heartbreak in Charlottesville was the fault of the ‎white supremacists. Heather Heyer was murdered by an act of terrorism. The driver used his car to target public marchers.

OK, here, you and I can shake hands and agree. Try to make this point to Don, please.

5. Sadly, I think that the pessimistic Nebraskans I've been with this week are right that there will be more violence toward public assemblies in the future.

Let's not let one or both sides come to these events carrying semi-automatic weapons.

6. I expect that violence will come when white supremacists and the alt-right fight anarchist groups aligned with the extreme left. ‎

Ben, I don't see lefties forming so-called Militias in the US. That's you guys over in Republicanland.

7. What will happen next? I doubt that Donald Trump will be able to calm and comfort the nation in that moment. He (and lots of others) will probably tell an awful combination of partial truths and outright falsehoods. On top of the trust deficits that are already baked so deeply in, unity will be very hard to come by.

8. Besides ability and temperament, I also worry that national unity will be unlikely because there are some whispering in the President's ear that racial division could be good politics for them.

9. I worry that some on the left are also going to salivate over these divisions. Like the President's ear-whisperers, they see a divided nation as good for their political objectives.

10. Bizarrely, many on the center-left seem not to see that there is little that some on the President's team would love more than to transform this into a fight about historical monuments.

With the exception of a few moments in out history, division is what we do. America really has few Kumbaya moments. When this country was founded, only white men of property could vote; natives routinely had their land stolen; and African Americans were enslaved and abused in any way you can imagine.

The officers that broke their oath to the United States to fight on the side of the CSA were traitors -- traitors defending a nation founded upon the bedrock of involuntary servitude. I offer these words from Gen. W.T. Sherman from a letter to CSA General J.B. Hood:

In the name of common sense, I ask you not to appeal to a just God in such a sacrilegious manner --you, who, in the midst of peace and prosperity, have plunged a nation into civil war, "dark and cruel war," who dared and badgered us to battle, insulted our flag, seized our arsenals and forts that were left in the honorable custody of a peaceful ordnance sergeant, seized and made prisoners of war the very garrisons sent to protect your people against negroes and Indians, long before any overt act was committed by the (to you) hateful Lincoln Government, tried to force Kentucky and Missouri into the rebellion in spite of themselves, falsified the vote of Louisiana, turned loose your privateers to plunder unarmed ships, expelled Union families by the thousand burned their houses, and declared by ac of your Congress the confiscation of all debts due Northern men for goods had and received. Talk thus to the marines but not to me, who have seen these things, and who will this day make as much sacrifice for the peace and honor of the South, as the best born Southerner among you. If we must be enemies, let us be men, and fight it out as we propose to-day, and not deal in such hypocritical appeals to God and humanity.

I see no reason to memorialize these men in the public square. On the other hand, we're America - not the Taliban. I'm against destroying the statues. If someone wants to display them in a private museum or on private property - have at it.

11. I wish more folks understood how many of the monuments now being debated are not really from the post-Civil War period as a way to remember war dead. Rather, contrary to popular understanding, many of these statues were explicitly erected as Segregation Monuments in the twentieth century, during Jim Crow, as a way of shouting – against the American Idea – that public spaces were to be whites-only spaces. Tragically, many of these monuments were erected exactly when lynchings of black Americans were being celebrated in those communities – and the timing overlap here was not accidental. (It's also worth noting that Gen. Robert E. Lee had opposed erecting Confederate Memorials because he worried, wisely, that they would become scabs of bitterness to be endlessly picked at.)

Again, we could shake hands and agree on this point.

12. But I'm also against mobs tearing down the statues, or city governments removing them in the middle of the night. That doesn't advance the civics discussion and debates we need; it just exacerbates the unhelpful "on both sides" grievance culture. Rather, we need an orderly debate about such monuments.

There are so many better people to memorialize. Astronauts, scientists, MOH winners from WWII, people who fought for civil rights

13. Every single place I've been this week, I've gotten a question like this:
**"Washington and Jefferson owned slaves; do we have to tear down their statues too?"
**"Explorer X didn't treat native Americans the way he should have; do we abandon states west of the Appalachian Trail?"
**"Even Tom Osborne isn't a saint; must we tear down the statute outside Lincoln's Memorial Stadium?"
The people asking these questions (over and over and over) are not racist. Rather they're perplexed by the elite indifference to their fair questions – about the "unnaming" movement now unfolding at Yale, for example. Most of these folks voted for Trump, to be sure, but many quietly admit to being dissatisfied with his leadership. But they have ZERO uncertainty about a choice between a Trump who would defend statues of Washington and Jefferson, and a national media elite who they assume would not defend monuments to Washington and Jefferson. That's the divide many here are seeing and hearing. ‎

Washington and Jefferson owned slaves. But they founded the nation -- an imperfect nation to be sure -- but they founded it. Lee and Jackson sought to destroy or divide the nation. That's the difference.

Tom Osborne was a Husker coach and a US Representative. I see no reason at this time his statue wouldn't remain in Lincoln for years. I do hear many of your fellow conservatives come up with masterpieces of mental gymnastics to attempt to defend Joe Paterno, and maybe that's where you are getting that. So to be clear - men who cover up or ignore child molestation shouldn't get statues. If Dennis Hastert had a statue, I'd want it removed.

‎14. The white supremacists from Charlottesville now feel emboldened. They’re headed to another city sometime soon – with the express purpose of spreading their hateful rhetoric and inciting violence. This is the most attention they've received in years.

Part of that solution is joining others in opposing them. Many in the GOP don't seem (from where we sit) to want to do that. You should ask them "why?"

15. Tragically, there are some who want violence. Most Americans see the images from Charlottesville and our hearts break. We yearn for leaders, who raise high the exceptional American Idea of universal human dignity. But there are others who want to see these divisions exacerbated — not only the extremists on the ground but also some cable news executives who jump at division and know that what’s bad for America is good for ratings.

16. There is so much more nuance and texture inside local communities than broad-brush national "Crossfire"-like journalism usually distinguishes. One example from Nebraska right now: There seems to be a major gap on race issues between two types of generally Trump-supporting Republicans. Among more frequent church-goers, there is a lot more sadness and worry right now, whereas among more secular conservatives there seems to be a lot more "let's fight." I could be wrong, but that's been my repeated experience this week.

Leaders that raise high the exceptional American Idea of universal human dignity? How about one that would stop talking about nuanced issues via Tweets; who would throw white nationalists out of the White House (Bannon was a good start); who would join the Senate in condemning Putin (but we all know Don can't do that, right?); who would stop going to ridiculous lengths to call any negative reporting "fake news"; and who would stop spreading actual fake news (like dredging up the tired Hillary e-mail stories, or telling the widely discredited Pershing story). The GOP has whined about the media being stacked against them since Goldwater, even though the vast majority of media outlets are owned by conservatives.

By the way, I'm a church-going moderate to liberal Democrat. My church teaches lessons about Jesus saying we should love out neighbor as ourselves, and to love and serve the poor -- not repeal laws that give the poor food, shelter, and health care.


We have a glorious heritage in the American Idea, but we have neglected it at our kids’ peril.
This is the right time for each of us – parents and grandparents, neighbors and patriots – to pause and teach our kids again about universal human dignity and about love of neighbor. This is a time for discussion and education and humility, not intimidation and mobs and midnight wrecking balls. ‎

Let’s teach our kids why our First Amendment Society fights with debate, not violence. Let’s teach them that those standing in threatening mobs don’t stand with America. Let’s teach them that white supremacy is a cancer to our union. Let’s teach them to reject identity politics. Let's teach them that all of us are created equal, with infinite dignity and limitless potential. Let’s teach them that what makes us Americans is not our skin, our wealth, or our religion but our shared creed. ‎

That creed, ironically, was put to paper most profoundly by a very fallen slave-holder, who spoke for the long-term future of America in writing that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights…” We eventually went to war to preserve a creedal “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” And that creed eventually perfected our union from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama, with the proclamation that “‎the goal of America is freedom.”

It feels like violence is coming. I'm not sure if this moment is like the summer of '67 or not. But it might be. Before that violence strikes again, it’s up to us to reaffirm that exceptional American Creed again today, with our neighbors, and in our kids' hearts.

I'd respond to that with an excerpt from an op-ed piece by Christina Emba in the Washington Post called "I'm Tired of Arguing that I Matter."

There are the appeals to reason, grown tedious for having been so often repeated: No, taking down a monument is not an “erasure of history.” No, it is not a slippery slope from removing mutinously erected statues of Lee to dynamiting monuments to George Washington. No, even if all the Confederate monuments disappeared overnight, we would not as a country forget that the Civil War ever happened or what it meant. After all, we still have books and museums and cemeteries and preserved battlefields and structural inequality.

Then there are the analogies, the individual stories, all the more painful for being constantly retold: No — I can’t just “get over it,” because I can’t just take off my dark skin, which permanently marks me as the other. No, they aren’t “just statues”: They bring up personal, painful memories of current racism and marginalization — shall I recount those for you, again? Yes, the fact that Charlottesville’s marchers were willing to mow down protesters and kill an innocent person feels existentially threatening to me, a black woman, the sort of person who is their real target.

I’ll do it, of course. I’ll have the argument, invite the debate, slowly spell it out in a measured tone. Because through a thousand arguments on Facebook and Twitter, through opinion pieces and face-to-face conversations, someone’s mind might be changed.

Even so, the more I explain, the more depressing it becomes. Because there is little so disheartening as having to argue for why your friends, neighbors and countrymen should care about your life. To ask politely why you aren’t valued and propose that they reconsider.

I doubt you'll see this; but then again, I doubt whether you actually read my e-mails that I send to your office. My suspicion is, was, and always will be that you take your marching orders from Pete and Joe Ricketts. You strike me as someone that wants to be able to point to these little Trump opposition pieces you occasionally churn out when you run for President in '20 or '24. I've seen little to suggest that you are any better for African Americans, Latinos, the LGBTQ community, or women of any ethnicity than Trump. You continue to support policies that hurt the poor; interfere with a woman's absolute right to control what goes on with her body; and make life as difficult as possible for those outside of mainstream sexuality -- all while your party gives America away to moneyed interests and foreign oligarchs.

Ben - do you want real news? CO2 levels continue to break records, and the planet is getting hotter. Sea ice levels are down. Simply facts. If nothing is done, you can visit Mar-A-Lago wearing waders or by boat. If you want to do something real for America (and help Nebraska in the process) , continue to support the growth of wind power; convince Don to get back on board with the Paris accords; and work with Democrats and independents not to revive coal in Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia -- but to transform the economies in those states for the 21st century and beyond.

Best Regards,

A Nebraskan on DU (Not Omaha Steve, though)

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Arrow 6 replies Author Time Post
Reply Dear Senator Sasse (Original post)
Algernon Moncrieff Aug 2017 OP
central scrutinizer Aug 2017 #1
Algernon Moncrieff Aug 2017 #5
central scrutinizer Aug 2017 #6
Iggo Aug 2017 #2
PoorMonger Aug 2017 #3
MyOwnPeace Aug 2017 #4

Response to Algernon Moncrieff (Original post)

Sat Aug 19, 2017, 06:05 PM

1. Nebraska ex-pat here

Bravo. Born and raised in Grand Island but have lived in Oregon since 1972.

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Response to central scrutinizer (Reply #1)

Sat Aug 19, 2017, 09:12 PM

5. GI will be prime eclipse viewing

Assuming it is not cloudy there on Monday.

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Response to Algernon Moncrieff (Reply #5)

Sat Aug 19, 2017, 09:35 PM

6. I'll be in Corvallis, Oregon. Weather forecast looks good

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Response to Algernon Moncrieff (Original post)

Sat Aug 19, 2017, 06:05 PM

2. K-to-the-R.

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Response to Algernon Moncrieff (Original post)

Sat Aug 19, 2017, 06:49 PM

3. Strong Post

As a Nebraskan I salute you. I was also not loving Sasse-Hole predicting more violence and then talking about the Extreme Left. its essentially excusing more combativeness and then making some of the same arguments about 'both sides' albeit with more finesse than Trump.

Republicans must stop this false equivelance at once. Someone who fights against nazis and skinheads is not extremist - they are rational. Republicans made this mess if their party and they must be the ones to do most of the heavy lifting to fix it. It starts with realizing that placing blame where it truly belongs is the right thing to do for us all.

As a Democrat I can say this to my Republican family and acquaintances ; but in a climate where they won't even try to hear me ( because they know my political leanings) it must fall to Republicans to repudiate the evil that has infected their house.

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Response to Algernon Moncrieff (Original post)

Sat Aug 19, 2017, 06:56 PM

4. Hey, Al (can I call you Al? Paul Simon liked it!)

This has to be the most reasoned, thought-out post I've EVER seen - should be the "Post-of-the-Year" and published/covered by major media sites, including the Omaha Weird Harold!

Truly, great job - and I'm with you - he'll never read it!

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