In a thoughtful “Editorial Update” published on the Opinion page last month (Herald, Jan. 12), I was quite pleased to read about commendable efforts the editorial board is making “to break down walls between and among individuals and interest groups to enhance community understanding” by forming an Advisory Board of diverse individuals “from various lines of work, backgrounds, parts of the county and political persuasions.”
“Bravo!” I thought to myself. “Good for them; it’s about time!”
That is, until I looked across the page from that clear-eyed statement of unity to a hyper-partisan cartoon depicting the president of the United States as a “pig” inspecting a sample border wall. The cynical irony was not lost on me – same day, same page.
I’m sure I don’t need to point out that such a crude depiction disrespects not just Donald Trump, but the office of the president. I would hope readers would be equally offended if the cartoon depicted President Obama or any other duly elected American president as a pig.
Caricatures on the other hand, such as exaggerated ears or swooping-bleached hair, are in a different category altogether – light-hearted and fair game, while still effectively making a point with a bit of levity and class. But this was hardly a light-hearted caricature. It was intended to be demeaning and mean-spirited, and it delivered.
We may not like a particular American president’s behavior at times, whether in the Oval Office with a hapless young female intern and a cigar, or on a broadcast network’s motor coach disrespectfully “locker room” talking to a show host about grabbing women. However, these more-often-than-not imperfect individuals hold an office that at least deserves a certain amount of respect and decorum, unless they are being depicted in a less-than-respectable partisan rag.
I’m a registered independent, but will admit this cartoon – published not in Salon.com but in my local community paper– shocked and offended even my sensibilities, particularly when placed next to such a thoughtfully-written “heart and soul” update, suggesting the community needs to begin breaking down walls.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe this is the best way to begin such a lofty and worthwhile, community-minded goal.
I can only imagine how off-putting the page must have been to the many registered Republicans living in Durango, who are likely just as committed to their points of view as residents on the political left may be.
There are indeed a lot of us from “various backgrounds and political persuasions” who live side by side in our peaceful, lovely mountain community of Durango. Undoubtedly, some of us have moved here in part to escape the deepening divide. I’m 65 years old and have never seen America so senselessly and dangerously divided, and I’m beyond concerned about the coarsening of political discourse for my young grandchildren. They deserve better, and so do your children and grandchildren.
A recent local political dispute apparently got out of hand and tragically led to the suicide of a gentleman in my neighborhood after a note he left on a car was published in the paper. Engendering outrage based on his inappropriate note may have felt vindicating to some at the time, but this constant escalation of all things political needs to stop – on both sides – so that cooler heads can once again prevail for the sake of the next generation. Think of them, if not ourselves. And I would hope The Durango Herald will not be pouring fuel on already out of control partisan fires from this point forward.
In a gentler time, the ’80s, I worked on Capitol Hill as a media consultant during a few campaign cycles and often found myself at a great eatery called “Anton’s Loyal Opposition” for lunch. I often talked with Bill Anton, the Michigan-based restaurateur, whose mission it was “to bring the parties together,” and he did just that. It was not unusual in the day to see congressional leaders from both parties at the same table laughing and joking together after Bill awkwardly sat them together. He would smile broadly in approval and “comp” them desert.
I miss those days.
Perhaps I’m a hopeless romantic and a relic of the past, but there’s always been a certain nonpartisan charm to hometown newspapers – an island of sanity in sea of ideologically-driven media madness – that set themselves apart by simply seeing to it that residents stay abreast of local news and community happenings. That’s an important role to play, and a refreshing one at that. I hope this will be the case with the Herald and its expressed desire to “break down walls” moving forward.
If so, “Bravo, and good for you; it’s about time.”
Dave McQuade founded cable network “Z Music Television” in the mid ’90s and has served as a media executive and consultant for 40 years. He lives in Durango.