The day after the attempted coup of January 6, Stanislaus County Supervisor Terry Withrow published comments on his Facebook page that offered an eerie echo of Donald Trump’s now infamous remarks that there were “good people on both sides” during the demonstrations in Charlottesville. Withrow said that there were “sincere people on both sides” of the coup attempt, and tried to establish equivalence between the demonstrations after the death of George Floyd and the invasion of the nation’s Capitol while Congress was certifying the presidential election. Outrage mounted soon after. A reply from Modesto’s Reggie Rucker was among the most eloquent and penetrating. We’ve published Mr. Rucker’s remarks below. ed
The deafening silence should come as no surprise.
After all, it was our elected leaders who mostly stayed out of the fray during the first attempt to stage a “Straight Pride” parade in our beloved city, making us a national embarrassment. If they did venture to make public comments, they, for the most part, feigned disappointment while trumpeting First Amendment rights.
Modesto Mayor Brandvold at the time took the Constitutional defense another step, not only parroting First Amendment rights, but rallying supporters to ensure that no public safety measures proposed leading up to the event infringed on individuals’ rights to carry guns during protests – saying nothing of my right to live free from threat and intimidation. Just about every local office holder, and seeker, will tell you that their number one priority is to protect the public’s safety. But I can tell you now, I do not feel safe.
Our community is being ravaged by COVID-19, and while businesses disregard the laws put in place to protect our health and safety, our local officials in unison profess how hard it is to gain compliance and feign hope for individual responsibility. It would be too hard to enforce with so many violators, they say.
Interesting that when it was hard to gain compliance during the George Floyd March for Justice over the summer, elected leaders stood behind the use of extraordinary measures including armored vehicles, riot gear, flash-bang grenades, and the like. Whatever was necessary to protect the public safety, they said then. Who constitutes this public whose safety is being protected?
I do not feel safe.
I have been waiting for our elected leaders to respond to last week’s attempted coup at the Capitol, and despite this recent history that would suggest I should expect little to nothing, I am still deeply troubled by how little I have heard from our leaders. It is as if they have all determined it is a national issue, or a D.C. issue, and does not have true relevance to our quaint community across the country. As if nobody in our glorious city would agree with the acts of sedition. As if they would be stunned were the investigation to uncover that some of our neighbors even participated in the racist, anti-Semitic, anti-democratic fueled riot.
Must I remind them that the leader of the 2017 hate-filled rally in Charlottesville, which led to the death of a young woman, was a local resident and student at Stanislaus State? Do they not recognize the Trump and militia flags adorning the Capitol following the fatal injuries to DC police officers as the same flags decorating yards and trucks throughout this community?
I do not feel safe.
Yet, while the silence is disturbing, what is even more terrifying is what I have heard from some of our leaders. Namely, Stanislaus County Supervisor Terry Withrow, who, on the day after the attack on the Capitol, in a Facebook post, equated that assault on our democracy to the protests for civil rights over the summer. Equated the righteous marches in response to an unjust killing the world saw on video to the riotous mobs who reacted to the unfounded lies the President and his followers created in their minds. Equated the small minority of bad actors who used the peaceful protests for cover to loot and destroy retail stores to the thousands who used false claims of a stolen election as pretense to terrorize our government and desecrate our democracy.
Supervisor Withrow heard the cries for justice for Black people killed at the hands of police and equated those to the chants to hang our Vice President while he was upholding his constitutional duties and sworn oath. He saw the waving of Black Lives Matter flags in the streets and equated that to the planting of Confederate flags in the nation’s Capitol.
I do not feel safe.
Supervisor Withrow went on to say our survival depends on leaders who can find “middle ground solutions” and “address the concerns on both sides,” fair to all, “sincere in their beliefs.” To that, I would ask Supervisor Withrow, what middle ground solution would he have proposed when secessionists instigated our Civil War to defend the institution of slavery? Or how would he have addressed the concerns of the Nazi side who were determined to exterminate Jewish people from this Earth? How would he have been fair to the terrorists on 9/11, sincere in their beliefs, as they flew planes into our buildings, killed our people, and took aim at our Capitol?
I do not feel safe.
And while I am certain that Supervisor Withrow would dismiss my message as the type of “rhetoric” our leaders need to get past, I would counter that there are moments where platitudes about common ground and fairness to both sides amount to the complete abdication of leadership. There are moments when leadership is standing your ground and choosing a side. And when a leader cannot discern those moments, nor identify which side they want to stand on, they cannot be trusted with the duties of leadership. They cannot be trusted to distribute vaccines, or support our businesses, or protect our health or safety, or generally improve our quality of life. They must not be our leaders.
We deserve a discerning leadership. We deserve a clear, unequivocating leadership. We deserve a leadership of conviction, and commitment to what is right. In a community that is relatively evenly split politically, it is that much more difficult. In a community that is relatively evenly split politically, it is that much more necessary. We must lead the way in showing how citizens divided by the smallness of politics can be united by the grandness of purpose. We must lead in showing how voters who differ over their preference of party can agree on the pursuit to perfect our union. More just. More equitable. More inclusive. So please, I ask you to lead, or get out of the way. So I can feel safe.
AJ Ward says
I am absolutely ashamed of our local leadership. Really, can they find any other political areas to be tone deaf about? I don’t know who’s going to run in 2023 but I can guarantee you where my vote will not go in that election.
I am disheartened & disappointed in our local so called ‘leadership’. You bring up very valid points about not feeling safe. Between the pandemic and an unstable POTUS I am ready to purchase my first weapon (a 20 gauge shotgun) for defense. I’ve been friends with people of all political leanings, but I draw the line at revolutionary thinking & behavior. Do people need to be reminded to follow the constitution and not a man?! It’s OK to be Republican and NOT follow tRump!! 2021 is obviously going to give us new challenges. Those of us with kindness, compassion & common sense need to prevail.
Bruce Frohman says
Until this past year, I had no idea that some of our local leaders were so morally bankrupt. It started with the visit by Ann Coulter, a flame thrower. Then, the Board of Supervisors, headed by Terry Withrow, failed to take Covid 19 seriously. My father died of Covid 19 on December 14 in Hughson. I wonder if his death was even counted. Now, I read this insightful story. I do not feel safe.
brad j johnson says
Very well said Mr Rucker
I am beyond disgusted and full of contempt for these leaders who try to have their cake and eat it too. Bottom line, they are self serving craven cowards. They’re hoping enough of the public will be gullible enough to fall for their blandishments , while the extreme right wing will get it.
I quit the Republican Party years ago because I could see their trajectory and it turns out I was right.
al Lucchesi says
When any person promotes rebellion and insurrection they flirt with jail time when an elected official flirts with he flirt with jail time and recall election
I am very sad about our local leaders support or silence on the lies being propagated by this president and his supporters. We are already seeing a huge price being paid by lives lost due to the COVID virus when the local leaders ignored the health experts advice. I hope they recognize and act to avert the potential violence being planned and acted against the people and our institutions. I am not concerned about the BLM movement fighting for their rights. I am concerned about the extreme right lead by POTUS disregard for our rights and democratic values. For the first time in my life, I do not feel safe.
For those who are shocked by the failed coup d’etat event on 1/6/2021, don’t be…
White Supremacist Domestic Terrorism is as American as baseball, crackerjacks & apple pie.
Click the link below to understand the reason why White Supremacist Domestic Terrorists were able to storm the Capitol…
Click the link below…
The DC Trumpian White Supremacist Domestic Terrorist failed Coup d’etat on 1/6/2021 Is Over, So What Comes Next?
With all the righteous indignation in DC today nobody is talking about a “War On White Supremacy”. So even now they’re still trying to protect the system.
Click the link below…
Richard Anderson says
Very well said!
Can you advise about how to heal the chasm between our populace?
Our nation is crying out for healing of the Chasm between the political poles of our people. Both Biden and Trump have said they want to unify the country.
I believe that real healing cannot be done at a national level, with one dominant party oppressing the other.
Deep healing will come when local communities set to the task of (1) educating their populace better, and (2) start to foster cross-chasm communication and understanding such as groups like:
Braver Angels, https://braverangels.org;
Livingroom Conversations, https://livingroomconversations.org;
Civic Saturdays, https://citizenuniversity.us/civic-saturday;
and Every Day Democracy, https://www.everyday-democracy.org have been doing for
Reggie: The current “Stanislaus Connections” has some ideas- http://www.stanislausconnections.org/Connections%20Jan2021.pdf Jim Costello, its editor and I have written up a proposal. What do you think?
– Richard Anderson, email@example.com
Lori wolf says
My family was raised on racial equality. My mother and father said, meet someone, see if you like them and never judge based on skin color or religion. Keep an open mind. We all matter in this universe. If we would treat each other kindly, reach out with a helping hand, give until it hurts, things would be better for all. I have lived my entire life with those truths. To say it is equal to protest peacefully or to protest with anarchy in mind is ridiculous. There are so many fine minds and kind people in this world it is truly upsetting when the ugly hateful people dominate the news. God Bless America, the Land that I Love.
Christine Calderon says
I don’t tell people not to get a gun to feel safe but I do tell them it won’t make you safe. To make our community safer, we need facts, the same facts for everyone. How many times recently were you speaking to someone and they said something bizarre, untruthful, and you just let it slip by? I bet everyone remembers several things like that. We have got to stop letting lies slip past. People around you are slipping into dark beliefs and ridiculous thinking. Its awkward, it is inconvenient, but to get people back to reality, You don’t have to spend a lot of time arguing with people but let them know you heard them saying something false and dangerous to believe.. Our safety literally depends on fixing all of these lies. They spread faster than Covid 19
Steve Collins says
Eloquent and true!
Diedre Bush says
Thank you Reggie. Please know there are many more of us who believe as you do.
Mr. Withrow & the Mayor are really no better than Ted. Cruz, Josh Hawley, Madison Cawthorn & the “Qanon Shaman”, et al, a pretty ugly bunch altogether.
Their name belongs in the dustbin of history along with the disgraced bully they admire.
JOHN HERLIHY says
Mr Rucker, my how you are silent about the BLM and Antifa working together in Portland and Seattle. Where is your outrage over that issue. Where is your outrage over the recent riots in Portland and Seattle. You seem to be silent about these issues. Also, the riots at the capital have documented both far right and far left and Antifa as members who all to part. It is easy to pat yourself on the back and say it is only one sided but as we are seeing with the first amendment conservatives no longer have a voice because we do not fit the democratic mantra.
Eric Caine says
Mr. Herlihy: Why would someone writing about the silence of local leaders about an insurrection in Washington DC include commentary about Portland and Seattle? What relevance does Antifa have to the issue of sedition incited by the President of the United States. Conservatives no longer have a voice? What about George Will, Rick Wilson, Steve Schmidt, Laura Ingraham, and too many others to name? More to the point, why is your strategy of deflection so obvious and why aren’t you ashamed to employ it?
What a dishonest attempt at a smear. Came across this article trying to find out the true political affiliation of Withrow for the upcoming vote. Will vote Withrow now if only to get more REEEs out of the left.