US Capitol Sept 25 2019

The United States Capitol, Sept. 26, 2019, photo by Mona Weatherly

This column by Mona Weatherly was originally published in the Nov. 25, 2021 issue of the Custer County Chief.

Last week I did something that I’ve talked about doing but never had.

I contacted my Congressman to ask him to vote a specific way on an issue. Heck, I not only sent an email, I called the Washington, D.C. office as well to ask Congressman Adrian Smith to vote in support of censure of Congressman Paul Gosar of Arizona. (In full disclosure, my contact was made as a private citizen, not as editor of the Chief.)

You may already know that Gosar’s office released an animated video of a character with Gosar’s face killing a character with the face of Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and then attacking the President of the United States.

Gosar himself said the anime (the type of video) was a way to attract young people and that is why it was released. I heard one national news outlet say the video was described as a “fun” way to get ideas across.

Does anyone else out there remember when we were taught that violence or even the threat of violence against the President of the U.S. was looked upon as pretty doggone serious, even traitorous?

Would anyone out there be okay if their co-worker created such a video depicting violence and murder against them?

Would we accept this from high school or college coaches, from city council or school board? Would you want a fellow student doing this against your child?

Each and every U.S. Representative - and each and every one of us - should ask themselves how they would feel if they or a loved one were the subject of such a video, especially in these times when lines between reality and virtual are so blurred. Endorsing violence against each other is unacceptable.

It is most unacceptable at the Congressional level.

We should hold our elected officials to the highest levels. This video fell far short.

Let’s be clear, I’m not a fan of Ocasio-Cortez. A lot of the time, I’m not a fan of the President’s policies and agenda. However, this isn’t a partisan issue. This is a human respect issue.

How about the folks in Washington just try to be plain decent?

We do it every day here in Custer County and central Nebraska. Is it too much to ask Washington to do the same?

While in Broken Bow on Veterans Day, Rep. Smith said, “We want to instill an atmosphere of respect and compassion without expecting to agree 100 percent of the time.” That’s why I contacted his office. The video does nothing to promote respect, compassion or the unity we so desperately need.

One can disagree without endorsing violence. Let us “attack” ideas but not each other.

For the record, Smith did not vote in favor of censure, nor did Nebraska other’s two Congressional representatives, Jeff Fortenberry and Don Bacon. The House passed the censure 223 to 207. Gosar was rebuked and stripped of his committee assignments.

Also for the record, Smith voted against the “Build Back Better” bill last week and I agree with him on that. This social bill (not to be confused with the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act already signed into law) contains things like benefits to illegal immigrants, tax breaks for millionaires in some states and increased audits by the IRS. It needs a lot of work. Utah Senator Mitt Romeny said it will ping pong back and forth for a while.

That will give our Senators and Representatives plenty of opportunity to disagree and discuss and still be decent about it.

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