Editorial: Tribune thumbsPublished 4:00pm Saturday, August 16, 2014
To election season.
The primary election season was fairly tame compared to what is to come this fall. We welcome a vigorous, vibrant and vital dialogue on community and regional issues facing voters. As much as campaigns can seem annoying and brutal, at the same time they are part of America’s republican democracy, the most credible and enduring form of government on the face of the earth, one that has been capable of transferring power locally and federally for more than two centuries. The debates at the center of election seasons are squarely a part of the American experience, and participating in them — whether it is sharing a viewpoint at the dinner table or writing a letter to the editor or posting a yard sign — is a your civic duty as an American citizen. Election seasons do more than elect candidates into office. They solve major and minor problems and move society forward. We want people to vote Nov. 4, but we also want them to speak up between then and now. Participate in this great country.
To flag burnings in Winona.
It is legal — though anger-provoking — in America to burn a U.S. flag in a demonstration, exercising free speech. It nevertheless disturbs us to hear of such an awful act. However, in the Winona case of the past three weeks, a suspect is wanted for burning 17 flags belonging to other people. It’s a property crime. Sometimes, there were people inside the homes while the flags were being torched, presenting a serious public safety issue. It is especially disturbing to hear of someone burning other people’s property, let alone disrespecting the American symbol of freedom. We hope the authorities bring the perpetrator to justice.
To the Missouri Highway Patrol.
Did you notice the difference in Ferguson, Mo., on Thursday night? Troopers from the Missouri Highway Patrol escorted marchers and protected them. The commander and other high-ranking brass even marched with them. On prior nights, police forces from St. Louis County and Ferguson opposed the marches, throwing tear gas and showing force against the protesters.
The difference in approaches was simple and seems like common sense, but the contrast in results was like night and day. The Ferguson community took note. Streets were filled with music, and people shared food and laughter. There was not notable trouble after darkness as had been the case with the other police forces.
The situation there and the national debate on police strategies — police work is shown to be more effective where officers act like they are part of their communities, not making citizens into enemies — all make us appreciate all the law enforcement officers here in southern Minnesota, as even the law-abiding citizens come to know them by their names, and we witness them making difficult, sound and fair decisions day and night.