Letter-stack

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In a recent issue of the  Rappahannock News, I wrote an opinion piece in response to an attack on Supervisor Ron Frazier regarding his attendance at the huge Trump rally in the Ellipse park by the White House. Ron was being accused, without any evidence whatsoever, of being amongst that crowd of idiots who invaded the Capitol later that day. 

I believed that his accuser, Mary Sherman Willis, was making serious accusations with zero evidence of any wrongdoing on Ron's part. None. Nada, Zip. Zilch. Zero.

But Ms. Willis, the Chairperson of the Rappahannock County Democrats, was undeterred. Her attack on Mr. Frazier sounded like “McCarthyism” to me, the making of totally fictional accusations without a shred of evidence. So I said so. (That would be Joe McCarthy, not Charlie.) 

Ms. Willis did not respond to my column. But someone named Christine Doyle did respond. Ms. Doyle, who listed her address as Washington, D.C. went hyper-ballistic. Having had a long career in the trenches of politics and having butted heads with some serious characters, I'm pretty much inured to the gnarly give and take of debate, especially the hyper, overheated rhetorical debate that is common to American hardball politics. 

(Some here might recall my little fracas with Newt Gingrich, which led to his stepping down from his Speakership and retiring from elective politics. But for all of that, Newt and I have retained a civil and respectful relationship over the years.)

But Christine Doyle's attack on me was a strange, semi-illiterate jeremiad (“the thesaurus ridden failure an attempt at an opinion by Ben Jones”) that questioned my patriotism, as if defending a friend who had done nothing wrong put me right next to Benedict Arnold on the scaffold. She then upchucked this, “I find it beyond repulsive but ‘an act of treason’ that anyone would attempt to destroy democracy globally by making public accusations that the last election was an “apparent” electoral success. I find it an insidious act that assists our enemies, both communists and all anti-Americans … .” 

Here is how the word “apparent” is defined in the Oxford Dictionary: “apparent, adjective: clearly visible or understood; obvious.” 

She says, “I am embarrassed to call this man a fellow countryman.” That line is nauseating to me. Her screed is filled with this sort of wild thrashing about in the highest dudgeon I have ever seen in our local newspaper, and that is saying something. 

She doesn't live here, she doesn't know me, and yet she characterizes me as a traitor and an  embarrassment to the United States.

So I'm wondering why this person in Washington D.C. went ballistic because I defended Ron Frazier for going to D.C. and coming back. People here do that every day. It's a free country and a private citizen has no obligation to account for every second of their lives. It simply isn't anybody's business what Ron does with his leisure time. This is America, Ms. Doyle, and, so far, it is still a free country. We are all free to come and go and to say what we please. And you, Ms. Doyle, are free to make an absolute idiot of yourself in our local newspaper. 

I sure hope this valentine makes its way to you in Washington, D.C.

— The writer, a former Democratic U.S. congressman, resides in Harris Hollow.


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