Advertisement

You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Dear Sarah Palin: Wausau is more than a 'battle against Scrooges': Our View

A divisive approach may sell books, but it doesn't describe this community.

Nov. 13, 2013
 
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will sign books in Rib Mountain today. There are a few things we'd like her to know about this community.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will sign books in Rib Mountain today. There are a few things we'd like her to know about this community. / AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
  • Filed Under

Dear Sarah Palin:

Welcome to Wausau. We know youíre not here long ó Wednesday you were in Bethlehem, Pa., Columbus, Ohio, and Grand Rapids, Mich.; Friday youíll be off to Fort Campbell, Ky., and Fort Benning, Ga. But since this is your only stop today, we hope youíll have a chance to see the area and, who knows, maybe even pick up a newspaper.

Donít misunderstand us. We welcome you, and what is probably going to be a packed crowd of your fans, maybe some folks who are not such big fans and a whole lot of people who just want to see what all the fuss is about at your book signing from 10 a.m. to noon at Walmart in Rib Mountain. Youíre a big celebrity and people are bound to be interested in what you look like in real life and what you have to say.

Weíre interested, too. But we have a few concerns.

We believe you were attracted here in part by the recent controversy in the Wausau School District about a policy that would have limited Christmas music in some holiday performances. You weighed in online on that controversy, which seems to fit with the broad themes of your book.

If so, some words of caution: To reduce what happened here to a ďbattle against Scrooges who want Christ out of Christmas,Ē as you put it on your Facebook page, is to miss the way this community came together around this issue ó and the way local leaders listened to and responded to community voices.

Youíre reducing it to politics, to polarization, a battle between two sides. We understand why. But that isnít right. That isnít what happened.

People of all political persuasions and from a real range of religious views were united on this. Many did have religious convictions behind their reactions; we applaud and value those. But most people also value tolerance and diversity; they understand we do need to be sensitive to the fact that public schools are public and not every student is a Christian.

Wausau residents also spoke up because we value the craft involved in teaching and learning to perform those songs, because we value the work of local educators and the effort put forth by local students and because the affected performances were themselves something that brought the community together. Those values arenít easily fit into a battle of secular vs. religious or left vs. right.

On the importance of having residents ďshow up to protest a wrongheaded school directive,Ē as you wrote, we side with you ó or perhaps you were siding with us. But your first impulse here seems to be to draw battle lines, to caricature opponents and to create villains, and we cannot follow you there.

Thatís because itís our strong suspicion that even the educators who recommended limiting religious music are good people who were trying to do the right thing. We disagreed with the proposed changes and weíre glad the district reversed them. But trying to destroy Christmas? No. They were trying to strike a balance on a complex issue. They got the balance wrong, the community reacted, the school board listened and the problem was fixed.

That way of telling the story probably doesnít sell as many books, and it definitely wonít inspire the sorts of incredibly strong reactions, both adoring and harshly critical, that you seem to attract virtually everywhere you go. But thatís what it looked like from where we live.

You of all people should know what itís like to be caricatured, and we canít imagine you like it. Please, donít do the same thing to Wausau.

What's your take on the Packers Family Night change?

Retrieving results.
Watching practice is fine.(Your vote)
15%
575 votes
I'd rather watch a scrimmage.(Your vote)
23%
856 votes
I don't want to pay to watch practice.(Your vote)
27%
1017 votes
It doesn't matter to me.(Your vote)
34%
1271 votes

Catch up on the latest in our pregame show every game day.

Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports

ORDER YOURS

Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports