Noting our ugly politics

An unknown individual left a disturbing note Saturday on the car of U.S. Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, while she and her husband were shopping. CourtesyAkwesasne Mohawk code talker Louis Levi Oakes, center, receives the Congressional Silver Medal from U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik and American Legion Post 1479 Cmdr. Michael Cook on May 28, 2016. Submitted photo

Public officials must take a lot of criticism from constituents. This, after all, comes with the territory.

Angry letters and phone calls come in to the office frequently. Protests staged outside of events are common. And with the growth of social media, it must seem like the naysaying never ends.

But U.S. Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, endured something Saturday that is completely unacceptable. Someone left a disturbing note on her car in a parking lot, which read: “Rot in hell FASCIST PIG”

“It is truly sad that the radical Far-Left cannot see beyond their vicious hate,” Ms. Stefanik wrote in a post on her Twitter account. “My husband and I went grocery shopping this morning before district events and enjoyed chatting with constituents throughout the store. This vile anonymous note was left on our car.”

She also wrote in another tweet: “As an elected official, I understand that respectful & passionate policy disagreements are foundational to our democracy. But this note is just sad hatred. We are praying for the author. This hateful rhetoric should be publicly condemned by my opponent immediately.”

Tedra L. Cobb of Canton is seeking the Democratic nomination to run against Ms. Stefanik in the race for the 21st Congressional District. In response, she tweeted the following: “@EliseStefanik, you’re right, that type of discourse is damaging and wrong. I think it’s time you joined me in pledging not to name call in this campaign. I’d love to work with you to set a better example for -NY21.”

That drew this comment from Ms. Stefanik on Twitter: “This is not a condemnation. Here is my opponent equating ‘Taxin’ with ‘ROT IN HELL FASCIST PIG.’ One is a policy difference (you have voted numerous times to raise taxes); the other is a vicious, vile, sick attack. They are not the same and voters know it.”

It’s unfortunate that the candidates chose to reduce this reprehensible act to a show of who can top the other in the campaign. But politics being what it is these days, that’s not surprising.

We all need to grasp the seriousness of this unnerving incident. It raises the issue of how to ensure the security of those who represent us on legislative bodies, particularly in Congress.

How did the perpetrator know this was Ms. Stefanik’s vehicle? Was this individual following her and her husband?

That wasn’t the only awful message made about Ms. Stefanik. Former Democratic Committee Chairman Howard B. Dean, who previously served as governor of Vermont, implied that Ms. Stefanik deserved what happened to her.

“I don’t condone this, but ‘as ye sow, so shall ye reap.’ There is no excuse for the note writer or for you,” he wrote on Twitter. “You are a shame to your district and to a democratic United States.”

This response is truly offensive. As someone who has held several public offices, Mr. Dean should recognize the threat to our system of government from unknown individuals taking harassing measures. His message of “You had this coming” is outrageous.

Regardless of whether we support an elected official or not, there is a proper way to express our views. Just like the rest of us, our community leaders are human beings who have a right to feel safe as they conduct the routine tasks of life.

We hope Ms. Stefanik takes the necessary precautions to reduce the likelihood of a more perilous encounter. We all need to learn when, where and how it’s most appropriate to interact with those who govern us. And whatever our views are, this act of intimidation must be rejected.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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(13) comments

Krsparks

One might question why there was no report filed by Stefanik? Was her first reaction to publicize it and throw blame? Grocery stores have cameras. Easily solved.

rdsouth

Littering. Shameful. Paper doesn't grow on trees.

rockloper

Too funny rdsouth!

hermit thrush

i think we should all simply and clearly decry this note. elise is bad, but that doesn't mean the note is somehow ok or justified. we should all come together on this.

Holmes -- the real one

It does seem that the commenters here (at least) share the same opinion. I certainly do.

Skye Opal make a good point that Stefanik's insisting that an anonymous note has ist's origins in the "liberal left" (and then making political hay of it) makes it all the more suspicious that she planted the note herself (as pointed out by rockloper and Nice_Commenter).

Newsjunkie39a aptly points out that "as you sow" is particularly applicable to Stefanik -- who has adopted the rancorous rhetoric of Trump and Alcivar.

Her handling of the incident (as pointed out by zeitgeist) seems suspicious also.

My impression is that this note was planted by her own party operatives as a device to allow her to further spread resentment and division.

Abe Lincoln pointed out that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. One has to notice that Stefanic repeatedly and reliably sows division.

Nice_Commenter

President Trump went on the Alex Jones show and told Mr. Jones he "Has a great reputation". This is clearly a False Flag.

rockloper

Her staff probably put the note there themselves. Wouldn't surprise me in the slightest.

Skye Opel

Since this note was anonymous and somehow attached to Ms. Stefanik's vehicle by someone unknown, it seems suspicious that she immediately blamed the liberal left and shared it with the press. I wonder how desperate Elise may be to hold on to her congressional seat until she can move up to a position in Trump's cabinet. Lets face it, there are plenty of vacancies there. Something just doesn't add up.

MD

If you look closely, suspicions deepen. The back and forth scrawling with an ink pen seems to indicate the author realized the penmenship of one line would not appear in a photo, so he (she) had to go back and forth multiple times with the pen in order to get a photo of the note. Very suspicious!

zeitgeist

The note and its author are deplorable.

Why wasn't this incident handled discreetly, without press coverage, and involving law enforcement? Why did it become part of the 21st district campaign narrative? Why was it adopted for use in campaign rhetoric?

dutchman2``

Because it should've been. Fascist Pig is about as vulgar as you can get.

Nice_Commenter

Stefanik is associated with Trump, the man who bragged about cheating on all his wives. Stefanik most likely made this note herself.

Newsjunkie39a

There is no excuse for that awful note, but there is also no doubt that Stefanik's lurch to far-right name-calling has drawn much more critical comment than had previously been directed at her. Contrary to your opinion, Howard Dean's "As you sow" comment is spot-on. It's sad that she has lowered herself to the point where she now apes Donald Trump and Lenny Alcivar.

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