Two weeks ago, state Rep. Curtis Bowers of Caldwell wrote an opinion published in the Idaho Press-Tribune in which he claimed that feminism, environmentalism and the gay movement were part of a communist plot to “take America down.” According to his account, he learned this at a communist strategy meeting at the University of California, Berkeley in 1992, which he attended in disguise out of curiosity.
This would be laughed off as silly if it came from just anyone. However, Rep. Bowers is a legislator and his attempt to scare Idahoans with imagined threats of communism is inconceivable when actual threats like terrorism still exist; his attempt to distract with manufactured issues is irresponsible when real issues, such as safe roads, quality education and good jobs require cooperation and problem-solving; and his attempt to foster contention with divisive rhetoric is insulting when as Idahoans, whether by birth or by choice, we all call this place home.
Rep. Bowers’ goal, it seems, was to pit neighbor against neighbor by targeting three groups of people: feminists, environmentalists and gay rights advocates. According to him, these groups share blame for the destruction of families, business and culture. In fact, his enemies list may include you.
1. Do you agree that women should have the right to vote? If so, then you’re a feminist.
2. Do you enjoy hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, skiing or other recreational activities in Idaho and do you agree that the ability to participate in these activities ought to be preserved for your children and grandchildren? If so, then you’re an environmentalist.
3. Are you among the 63% of Idahoans who, according to a recent BSU survey, agreed that it should be illegal to fire a person because they are or are perceived to be gay? If so, then you’re a gay rights advocate.
If you answered “yes” to any of these three, you are among those Rep. Bowers has accused of being unpatriotic communist sympathizers. Having answered “yes” to all three, and being offended by his accusations, I was prompted to take action.
Starting with only an online petition and just a handful of emails, people from every corner of Idaho have joined in this non-partisan effort urging Rep. Bowers to either apologize for his divisive and absurd accusations or resign his office.
As we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it might be appropriate to recall lines from his most famous speech, still powerful and relevant some forty-five years removed, “I have a dream today that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men [and women] are created equal.’”
Join us in sending that message to Rep. Bowers.
Eileen Wight lives in Nampa.