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As a new resident

Fri, Apr 18th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

By LuAnn Wilcox

Lanesboro, Minn.

As a new resident in Lanesboro, my experience is that it is the friendliest, most inviting, and most welcoming small town I’ve ever been to. This feeling is a bit more muted in the rest of Fillmore County but still, in general, the area abounds in an amiable ambience. So, it has been disheartening to read commentary columns in this newspaper that contradict my experience and assumptions.

It isn’t that I was naive enough to think there aren’t stark differences of opinion and ideology here, but I wanted to believe that kindness, mutual respect, and civility would prevail in public discourse. That ideal was dampened and diminished by Jeff Erding’s diatribe in the April 7 Fillmore County Journal (Agenda 21: How progressives are using deception to destroy liberty). My brother, who was visiting from Minneapolis at the time and has been equally enamored with this area, pointed it out to me. And, he said that it immediately affected his contemplation of moving here himself.

Mr. Erding used the words “radical” and “secular” several times in his purporting of what “they want” and “they don’t want you to know.” He uses all capital letters to yell at the reader that U.N. Agenda 21 is “designed to exert ABSOLUTE CONTROL OVER EVERY IMAGINABLE HUMAN ACTIVITY.” Scary stuff. But, it isn’t Agenda 21 that’s scary, it’s rabid rants like this. Many of us have witnessed this brand of divisive demagoguery on cable news or talk radio, but most of us should be dismayed to see it in our local newspaper.

For the record, I got a copy of Agenda 21 and read the March 3 Journal commentary by Dr. Bryan Van Gorp about sustainability, which Mr. Erding also cites in his argument. He describes these as “phony, failed, ridiculous ideology” that has the “potential to destroy personal liberty.” Blatantly false, but that’s beside my point. What is truly scary is that Mr. Erding and his ilk continue to deny scientific facts and believe in unfettered capitalism. It seems to me that a global vision of sustainability, with commensurate rights, regulations, and responsibilities, is only rational. The article and agenda he cited are delivered as such, and are entirely well-reasoned, in vivid contrast to his own.

Media outlets love incendiary commentary like Jeff Erding’s, Glenn Beck’s, or Rush Limbaugh’s, because it stirs up emotional controversy that engages audiences. It worked. But, I urge this newspaper to restrict its content to reasoned, factual debate and dismiss finger pointing and name calling that, in utter irony, Mr. Erding himself admonished as “typical of those on the far left” in the February 24 edition. In that article, he promised to “never call you names and instead resolve to use facts and reason to persuade others.” The editor should hold him to that.

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