(Photo courtesy of Second Nexus)
by Diane Rufino, July 31, 2019
This past Saturday I met with a reporter with USA TODAY for an interview regarding the Trump Rally on July 17 in Greenville “and it’s aftermath.” This reporter traveled from DC to Greenville to do this story. We spoke for at least an hour and a half about the rally, about the diversity in age of those in attendance at the rally, about Donald Trump, about Greenville, about North Carolina, about North Carolina values, about North Carolina history, about the Tea Party movement and its actual and perceived purpose, about the Eastern NC Tea Party in general, about Tea Party principles, about the left’s campaign to smear anyone who holds a different viewpoint by claiming “racism” or “racist,” about race relations in Greenville, about our mayor P.J. Connolly and his incredible energy and commitment to the town, and of course, about the chant (“Send Her Back”) that has now become the left’s new claim of “racism” from Trump and his supporters.
I was warned by probably every single person I know not to meet with USA TODAY because the leftist paper “will no doubt twist what you say” and “end up doing a hatchet job on you.” Yet I chose to meet with the reporter anyway. I thought that, being that I had actually attended the rally, had in fact attended about 5 or 6, have grown up being familiar with Trump (in New Jersey and New York, where I grew up and then went to grad school, respectively), had written an article on the rally, and have a history of strongly defending the Tea Party movement and Tea Partiers, I would surely be able to help explain the chant, help explain the support for President Trump, and effectively counter the allegations from the left about the chant being racist, about Trump supporters being racist, and about the chant now dividing our community.
And to be honest, all said and done, when I left the interview, I was confident I had accomplished what I set out to do. The reporter seemed open to what I had to say.
But then the article came out yesterday – “NC City Wrestles With Echoes of ‘Send Her Back’” (Link: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2019/07/29/send-her-back-chants-trump-rally-open-wounds-greenville-nc/1828979001/ ]
I think Beth Capillary, president of the Republican Women of Pitt County said it best when she told me: “I was disappointed in what they chose to print from all you discussed with her. She tried to make us look mean-spirited. I never trust the main-stream media. At a time when we need healing and honest reporting, we get articles like this. I fear the mainstream media is going to frame the whole 2020 election in terms of race and racism. But to be fair, some of the comments she printed from you were good.”
I have serious criticisms and disappointments with the article and I need to address them:
(1) I was interviewed for about an hour and a half and the snippets she used in the article were not indicative or representative of my answers or explanations. I feel she sabotaged me to a good extent in that respect.
(2) I knew the article would focus more on the views of the left (and indeed I was warned about that) and I was prepared for it. It’s just a shame that the article focused more on the views of those who do NOT support the president and those who were NOT present at the rally than on those who attended the rally and could speak more accurately and correctly to the chant. Of all the people interviewed and referenced in the article, only two actually attended the rally – myself and Greenville Mayor P.J. Connolly. Mayor Connolly, unlike myself, claimed he didn’t even hear the chant. The others interviewed and emphasized in the article are not supporters of President Trump and did not attend the rally (no surprise). Samar Badwan, the Muslim woman who heads Greenville’s Human Relations Council, for example, said she chose not to join the protest of Trump’s rally but “knew it wasn’t going to be pretty.” Sounds like she has already written Trump off as being someone who is hostile to her community’s interests or her party’s platform. This seems to beg the question – Who is the real hater ?
If I were writing the article, I would have focused on the first-hand accounts of those who actually attended the rally and the views of those supporting the president and then asked those who do not support the president, those who may feel offended by the chant, and those who didn’t attend (thereby relying on secondhand soundbites and the mainstream media’s account of the chant) to respond and comment. The reporter, in this case, chose to approach the article from the opposite point of view.
The article gave in to the “version” of the rally and of the chant that the left (probably fueled by the Democratic Party, Democratic party leaders, and the mainstream media) has come up with – which always, always, always involves some sort of allegation of racism. By giving into the version that the left has decided to promote, USA TODAY has decided to intentionally push a false narrative, to help tarnish Greenville, NC, to create division in our ordinarily close-knit town, and to help the left continue to frame the 2020 election in terms of race and perceived racism from the right.
One specific question asked of me was: “Do you think the chant and its aftermath is dividing the community?” My answer was clear: “I think the left’s characterization of the chant and the constant promoting of that version by the mainstream media is what is dividing the community – and intentionally so.”
(3) The article cites a comment I made regarding Mayor Connolly’s statement that he was extremely disappointed and disheartened by hate-filled calls and emails he had received after the rally (including from those who said they would never visit his city). First of all, what I was told about Mayor Connolly was quite different than what was printed. I was told that he said he didn’t hear the chant but then chose to condemn the chant, saying that “hate will never have a place in our community.” According to the account I was told, it sounded like Mayor Connolly didn’t care what the audience meant by the chant and didn’t care to support the more innocent version of the chant but rather immediately caved in to the characterization of that chant by the left. It sounded like he chose to believe it must have been racist (even though he wasn’t actually paying attention during that part of the rally). I did however, follow up with the reporter by explaining in great detail that Mayor Connolly is the most excellent mayor we’ve ever had, telling her all the things he is supporting, explaining his strong ties to the community and his love and loyalty to Greenville. None of that was included in the article.
(4) The gist of the article was that the chant defined the rally and the crowd who was there to support Trump and it was divisive, mean-spirited, and racist. But none of that is true. The truth is that only a small minority of those in attendance actually chanted “Send Her Home.” The entire section of the arena where I sat (off to the side of the stage), which was a large section, sat quietly and did not engage in the chant. My husband and I looked around and took note of that. In fact, it may even explain why Major Connolly claimed he didn’t hear it. I saw him at the rally (with his wife and small children) and he was having a great time. He was smiling, laughing, and conversing with friends and acquaintances he ran into. The chant was in response to comments by President Trump. He simply quoted her words and especially several of the vile comments she made attacking our country, its policies, its greatest friend and ally in the Middle East (Israel) and defending terrorist organizations and terrorists in particular. I don’t think most people at the rally thought the crowd’s reaction was appropriate response to the incessant anti-American rage that has been spewing from the mouth of Rep. Omar, which is what President Trump reminded the crowd.
Could the chant have been phrased differently? Probably so. But chants are spontaneous, often originating from a single member of the audience and then picked up by those around him or her. As one commentator noted: “It was a political rally – not a church service.” But here is another question: Was Rep. Omar using the platform given to her as a US Congresswoman to comment on US policy from a representative of the US point of view or from a Somalian and radical Islamic point of view? Was she misusing her platform to serve her own ideological motives? Trump’s comments, in a sense, were that if Rep. Omar hates this country so much and is so motivated to berate it at every chance she gets, why is she even here, (“America, Love It or Leave It”). It was not racist and certainly was not meant to suggest that Trump strip a US citizen of her citizenship and send her back to her country of origin. The people who support Trump are extremely patriotic and do not take kindly to people, ESPECIALLY THOSE IN GOVERNMENT, who despise our country and speak badly of her. Anyway, I am upset that the article’s focus was on how the chant reflects badly on Greenville and on Trump supporters instead of offering the truthful explanation of the chant and instead of explaining that our gripe is in the offensive speech that comes out of Omar’s mouth and not in the fact that it is coming out of a Muslim woman’s mouth. Such is the evil-intentioned leftist media.
There is a problem in this country and it’s a serious one. Those on the left, in good part, are incapable of separating message and speech from the color or nationality of the person speaking it. If someone doesn’t agree with the speech spoken by a Muslim woman, it’s because that person is clearly racist against Muslims. Ir someone doesn’t agree with the message spoken by an African-American woman, it’s clearly because that person is racist against people of color. It can never be that the reason those on right disagree with someone on the opposite side of the political spectrum is simply because of the content of the speech. In the minds of those on the left, there must always, always be a more sinister explanation. There must always be some outright or implied racism. There must be some actual or latent racism on the part of the conservative, on the part of the conservative white person. We on the right are so very tired of racism, etc being imputed on us in everything we do, everything we say, and everything we stand for. Racism is simply not there and we’re tired of the manufactured hatred. Clearly, the hatred is coming from the left. We saw how racism is pervasive on the left – we’ve seen it for many years now. When African-American lawyers for the woman who claimed several Duke lacrosse players raped her (a totally false allegation and a HUGE miscarriage of justice, yet she was not punished) imputed guilt on the lacrosse players in the media by claiming: “We all know white boys can’t help themselves around black women,” there was no outrage in the media or in the country over that horribly racist and reckless statement. When Al Sharpton used racial stereotypes against 4 white boys to defend Tawana Brawley (who again, made the totally false allegation that the 4 white boys attacked her), he condemned whites as generally being incapable of not being racist. When President Obama, then Michelle Obama, and then Hillary Clinton publicly stated that white people are incapable of not being inherently racist (even if its subconsciously), no one showed any outrage at the outright racist comment. No one dared to stick up for the white person or for the conservative. To do so would itself have been labeled as “racist.” There has been a steady attack against white culture and a steady condemnation of whites and of conservatives as being inherent racist probably beginning in the 80’s but definitely in the 90’s. I imagine it was part of an intentional progressive agenda to divide our country along racial lines in order to further political goals and social policies. One should always keep in mind that law schools these days are not simply “law schools” but centers for “social justice.” As many lawyers will comment, some of these schools and some of these liberal law professors see racial and social injustice where it doesn’t exist. One such example is in classroom management and school policies to address infractions of the school code, incidents of sexual abuse and violence, and breaking the law or other criminal offenses (such as drug offenses, theft, etc) which social justice warriors now claim are intentionally discriminatory to African-Americans.
There is not a single conservative person that I know here in North Carolina or from back home in New Jersey who has any racist intentions or any racial animus. The people I know and associate with are inclusive, welcoming, color-blind, and tolerant. What we are NOT are tolerant of those who hate our country, who push for policies to erode our freedoms, who condemn policies that keep us safe and secure, or who disparage it for no apparent reason than our country’s values don’t coincide with radical religious values or because our country doesn’t enough for those who sure non-citizens or because our country still hasn’t done enough to make sure that everyone shares in the new definition of “equality” which means that everyone is entitled to “equal outcomes” and that certain people are automatically entitled to the wealth and property of others. We love our country and we love what she stands for. We are proud that she has helped to advance freedom and independence in the world and that she has wrestled countries and peoples from genocidal and oppressive regimes. We are proud that for the most part (except for weak presidents like Carter and Obama and even Clinton, internationally), our country has offered hope to those around the world who are repressed and targeted with violence. This is not to be confused with a policy to allow our border to remain open to all those who want to relocate here, which is an idiotic policy to say the least. Conservatives are principled; they are not racist. There is a big difference. The left just can’t seem to grasp that concept.
I know it isn’t always easy being a reporter and finding a way to report objectively and fairly on an event or an issue, but I will always hold out for honesty and integrity and will expect the same from others. Honest reporting on an event should never be sacrificed in order to advance or promote a political agenda. The first is the reason for the expansive protection given the press by the First Amendment; the latter is not.