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Letter to the editor: 'Rabid' partisans hinder productivity

Even though the U.S. Supreme Court stated in 1974 that a newspaper is not constitutionally required to be "a passive receptacle or conduit for comment" and even though the preferred approach seems to be that "letters to the editor should not be platforms for diatribes against groups," the Focus continues to regularly treat us to Merle Hexum's angry and hateful diatribes.

His letters are devoid of an honest discussion of the facts and are sorely lacking in any semblance of logical thought. Rather, they contain fictional versions of the facts and Merle's bigoted conclusions. His letter of a few weeks ago is another example of that.

I have been involved in politics to varying degrees my entire adult life. My general observation is that most people who are involved in politics - Republicans, Democrats and others - are principled people who sincerely want what they think is best for our country.

However, as we all know, there has always been a minority of political participants of all political stripes who don't live up to that standard. No political party is free of those who want to take things to the extreme. And no party can honestly say that it has never gone too far in one direction or another.

Unfortunately, as politics becomes more polarized, it not only becomes more hateful but also less productive. We need to step back from that brink if we are to have a chance of solving the almost insurmountable problems that we now face.

If those who are rabidly partisan in their approach to politics and who have no respect for the truth have their way, we stand little chance of finding solutions that are effective and that reflect the will of the majority.

Too many have been so blinded by their partisanship that they have forgotten that our political decisions are - at least most of the time - meant to reflect the will of the majority, not of the angry, and are meant to serve the common good, not narrow interests.

The readers of the Focus should take note of Merle's practice of providing little in the nature of actual facts. And, when he does touch on factual matters, he's usually vague and judgmental.

For example, he asserts that our rights are under assault. That's his conclusion. Merle doesn't specify which rights he is talking about - unless he's limiting his comments to abortion - and he certainly doesn't tell us the facts on which his conclusion is based. Beyond that, Merle seems to think that our constitutional rights are absolute. Most (if not all) of them are not. Our courts are frequently required to balance one right against another. That's not always an easy task.

By not identifying which rights he has in mind and by not providing any facts that support his "under attack" conclusion, Merle fails to give the reader an opportunity to evaluate the strength of his argument. Merle apparently thinks that he - and others like him - should be the final arbiters of our rights as if the judicial system that our "founding fathers" gave us is insignificant. He seems to have little respect for that system which is the envy of the world unless it gives him the rulings that he wants.

Another example of Merle's habit of making gross generalizations is his affection for lumping together all of those who are to his political left.

It is false to suggest that democrats and liberals can be fairly lumped together with socialists and Marxists. There are profound differences between those groups that Merle chooses either to remain ignorant of or to simply deny. He would rather scare people with the loose use of labels such as "socialist" and "Marxist" than do some serious and honest analysis. There are almost certainly a few democrats who are Marxist (I recall having only ever met one). That does not justify glossing over the chasm that lies between the principles of the vast majority of democrats and Marxist principles. It would be equally unfair for me to equate republicans with fascists just because there are a few republicans who can fairly be called fascists.

Merle should define his terms and give us a clear statement of his facts before recklessly spouting his highly opinionated conclusions.

John Minge

Perham, MN