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Brugger: Must we accept McGeachin's solutions for Idaho's problems?
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Brugger: Must we accept McGeachin's solutions for Idaho's problems?

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Idaho’s lieutenant governor has once again tried to use her powers as the stand-in for an absent governor to act forcefully in the interest of the MAGA-Trump party. Idaho’s attorney general said that her order forbidding mask mandates throughout Idaho was against the state’s constitution and the governor rescinded it when he returned.

Janice McGeachin clearly does not understand the limits of the elected office she holds. In April of 2019, she swore members of unofficial militias with an oath like the one used by the Idaho National Guard while standing in front of the state capitol. She goes beyond gun rights by being an open advocate of armed militias, the modern equivalent to vigilantes. She believes that she has the official capacity to ignore or misinterpret our nation’s and our state’s laws.

In other news, McGeachin’s task force dedicated to rooting out (leftist, communist, social justice?) indoctrination held its first meeting. Reports from the event indicate that they spent the time talking about where the indoctrination would lead and defining what they were looking for. My understanding of their fears is that the subjects they object to make whites feel guilty and encourage students to become activists who demand special treatment for minorities, including people of color.

I am sad that Idaho has a national reputation based on the actions of a minority of people bent on amplifying the extreme. Our history with the Aryan Nation does not help our image as a state with widespread intolerance. I know that is not true. MAGA-Trump partisans are attempting to gain political power, but their numbers are still in the minority. Unfortunately, their tactics tend toward conquering and suppressing dissent.

Idaho’s citizens can handle the anger and fear without resorting to civil warfare by word or action. A first step is to agree on the terms within the conflict. I suggest a few.

Racist: it refers to the belief that one race is superior to another. It has come to express anger whenever someone without white skin believes that an action or words intend to hurt them or limit their access to resources. Intend is the crucial word. When someone is called a racist, they object to having their mind read and their feelings misinterpreted.

Systemic racism: This does not mean that everyone in a system (group of people) is racist. It means that no one in charge of the system is noticing or opposing racist outcomes from that system. For individuals, it can mean that they are not noticing and opposing words or actions they encounter in a group that indicates intended, or even unintentional, racism.

Social justice: this is a broad term that intends to bring fairness to our civil life. It is a topic for debate. Since the Civil Rights movement, more people have opposed unjustified opposition to their equal treatment under the law.

Shame and guilt vs. regret: Shame is a method of control that should be erased from human behavior. Shame tells an individual that something they are or have done makes them an unacceptable person forever. Too many people have been subjected to shameful remarks throughout their life. Guilt depends on intention, including “it seemed like a good idea at the time.” A person can accept accountability without accepting shame. Both regret and repentance allow us to move on with self-respect. No one should feel guilty about past events they did not support.

Good educators intend to expose their students to a wide range of topics and develop the analytical skills of every student. Asking a student to explain a point of view they disagree with is not indoctrination. Students work toward their preferred level of academic achievement. They are free to accept or reject anything taught.

I beg to differ if it is essential to be superior to others or believe others are less worthy. We must agree that everyone is worthy of respect. We can agree that racism is bad. We can work for a justice system that delivers on its promises to be fair. We can judge people on character, not class or status. We can even agree to disagree. We can reject Janice McGeachin’s views of Idaho’s future.

Linda Brugger, retired from the Air Force, leaning Democrat and community activist can be reached at She welcomes feedback.


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