Larry Yates | Careful what you say

We have an unprecedented situation in this country, with the election of Barack Obama to the presidency. For some of us, this is a wonderful moment. But we all know that for some Americans, this election result is painful, even hateful.
Given our economic crisis, President Obama and his administration will have plenty of opportunity to show that they are working for the benefit of all Americans. But in these first few months, the raw emotions stirred up by the election are still very much with us.

As a fervent supporter of free speech, I generally support the expression of any criticisms, even outrageous ones, of an elected official. Americans have a proud tradition of saying outrageous things, going back to our outrageous Declaration of Independence.

But I hope each of you will think carefully about what you say and do about Barack Obama, not for his sake, but for our country’s sake. We could wound this country in ways that cannot be repaired. Acts of violence – even threats of violence – will not be forgiven or forgotten, either by those of all colors who have placed deep hope in a President Obama, or by the rest of the world.

Fifty-six times, the United States of America has elected a president. Each time some of us have been bitterly disappointed by the result. But the vast majority of us have been fair and self-disciplined, and controlled any urge towards violence or hatred. Let us show each other – and the world – that we can do it again.

If your friends or relatives express threats or urge violence, ask them, for the sake of our country, to stop, to think, to pray if appropriate, and to look beyond this moment to our common future. In the gracious words of Sen. John McCain, let us offer “our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together.” We do owe this self-restraint to our duly elected President – but we owe it to our country first.


Larry Yates resides in Maurertown.

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