Our Views: Let the pro-Trump voices be heard
One job of the Opinion Page is to offer a wide range of perspectives on national issues.
This is not Facebook, where users can insulate themselves from other perspectives by “liking” only what matches their political preferences. This is not Twitter, where people can “follow” only those with whom they agree.
Such intellectual isolationism is corrosive to democracy. We want the Opinion Page to be a marketplace for ideas (not an idea), even those with which some readers disagree.
But that's become trickier since President Donald Trump's election.
Even during the presidential campaign, our conservative columnists were piling on the criticism, making distinctions among The Gazette's liberal and conservative columnists difficult to discern. We knew we had a problem when former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson's columns started echoing the themes put forth by left-leaning (or left-plunging as his critics might say) Leonard Pitt's writings.
To address this situation, we decided several weeks ago to tweak our columnist lineup to introduce more pro-Trump voices. We also actively seek pro-Trump cartoons and give them preference when they pop up within the thicket of anti-Trump illustrations.
Some readers have reacted to this “adjustment” with displeasure and disgust, specifically regarding our newest columnist, R. Emmett Tyrrell.
As the founder and editor-in-chief of the conservative magazine The American Spectator, Tyrrell brings years of experience to the position of defending Trump. We had dabbled with another columnist, Susan Stamper Brown, but some people found her too shrill, leading us to Tyrrell, whose shrillness at least comes with credentials.
A letter published today calls on The Gazette to stop publishing Tyrrell, noting his lack of decorum and reliance on “ad hominem attacks.” We agree with the writer's assessment, though we disagree Tyrrell's style warrants canceling his column.
Indeed, Tyrrell's crassness is one of the reasons we brought his column to the Opinion Page. His tone and rhetoric—describing protesters as “bed-wetters” with “illiterate placards” and “nonsensical T-shirts”—speaks to the essence of Trumpism and captures the pro-Trump point of view better than any columnist we publish.
Liberal readers should remember that 42 percent of Rock County and 57 percent of Walworth County voted for Trump. While some Trump voters expressed misgivings with Trump's tactic of verbally bludgeoning his opponents, that tactic largely defines Trump and Trumpism. Trump owes much of his success to ad hominem attacks: “Crooked Hillary,” “Lyin' Ted,” “Little Marco,” “Sleepy Eyes,” “Pocahontas,” “Fake Tears Chuck Schumer” and on and on.
If Hillary Clinton had prevailed, our collection of columnists would have reverted to its established self, with conservatives such as Gerson needling Clinton and Pitts generally defending her or arguing she wasn't liberal enough. But Clinton didn't win; Trump did.
Much of the nation, including many Trump voters, remains in shock over Trump's victory. Even Trump seems to be still grappling with reality and reportedly continues to give electoral maps to visitors to show them that he actually won.
Whether readers believe in what Trump stands for, we will continue to make Trumpism a perspective on this page. Even if you despise Trump, it's good to read pro-Trump columns. They will help you know your enemy.