Opinion | Susan Knopf: Can we talk?

Diane Luellen, a soft-spoken retired kindergarten teacher, and past president of Summit Colorado Interfaith Council, asked the speakers and audience at a recent panel on critical race theory if they know about “unity programs in our county.” She asked if they’d like to find out about it. No one answered her question.

The crowd shouted that if she didn’t have a question for the panel, she should sit down. They shouted the same thing at Breckenridge Social Equity Advisory Commission member Alexandria Carns.

For the record, the event was billed as a community discussion on critical race theory. Instead, it was a propaganda event intended to inflame and unify those who are unwilling to consider the possibility that minorities and people of color are often marginalized in big and small ways every day.

I was invited because I wrote columns challenging the Summit School District’s “Just and Equitable Education Policy.” I’m for equity, but the policy needs work.

The event was attended by more than 100 people. The first speaker was U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Matthew Lohmeier. He said he is resigning from the service because he objects to the implementation of racial awareness education in our armed forces. He offered a handful of anecdotes regarding enlisted members who were troubled by the training.

He said he filed complaints challenging the program, saying it harmed morale. His request got a bureaucratic response and no real changes. He wrote a book about his experience, “Irresistible Revolution: Marxism’s Goal of Conquest and the Unmaking of the American Military.”

The next panelist was Alex Hogue, a Romanian who married an American and found her dreams in the U.S. She showed us her old expressionless Romanian I.D. pictures, and contrasted those with happy pictures of her on vacation in the states. This was intended to convey that communism is bad and capitalism is good.

Local resident Cheryl Newey spoke for a group called Summit School District Watch, which stands “for equity of opportunity for all students.”

Finally, retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Rod Bishop promoted his organization Stand Together Against Racism and Radicalism in the Services. He and his group contend that antiracists are the racists.

In the Q&A portion of the event, Lohmeier said Marxists who joined Columbia University in the last century promoted critical theory. He said critical theory led to other scholars developing critical race theory.

The real issue is a 2015 interview, in which Patrisse Cullors said she and fellow Black Lives Matter founder Alexa Garza “are trained Marxists.” Wildly exaggerated stories are debunked by USA Today.

The McCarthy era is over. This is a free country. We’re allowed to espouse whatever political beliefs we want.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley testified before Congress that he read Marx. “That doesn’t make me a communist,” he said. “… What is wrong with understanding?” He said he expects all his leaders to “be widely read.”

“I want to understand white rage,” he said. “… What … caused thousands of people … to try to overturn the Constitution? … Our soldiers … come from the American people, so it’s important our leaders … understand.”

Lots of people insist the election was conducted improperly. Sixty courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court found no factual basis for these lies. Seems like that might be libel or even sedition.

Espousing support of a political or economic system is not a crime. I think it’s a good idea to know where people are coming from.

For the record, Cullors resigned from Black Lives Matter this year.

The panelists insisted they support unity. But the people who created the event have talked about starting a Christian school, Mountain House Academy. Is that unity? A large number of Christian schools also popped up in response to desegregation.

The jeering, angry audience members who didn’t want to hear about unity opportunities in our community really scared me.

I couldn’t help but think, these are the same folks who talked about being so happy with the preliminary redistricting plan that puts Summit County in Rep. Lauren Boebert’s congressional district. She’s the gun-toting QAnon believer. You all are worried about Marxists? Boebert thinks Democrats are cannibalistic pedophiles.

Marxists didn’t storm our Capitol on Jan. 6. QAnon believers did. Somehow Marxism looks like no big deal when you compare it to homicidal QAnon believers threatening to hang former Vice President Mike Pence.

Susan Knopf’s column “For the Record” publishes biweekly on Fridays in the Summit Daily News. Knopf lives in Silverthorne. She is a certified ski instructor and an award-winning journalist. Contact her at sdnknopf@gmail.com.

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