Letter

printed 03/15/2019

Editor,

In last week’s issue of the Gazette, a local, informal, loosely knit group was the target of accusation and innuendo, the story based solely on the statements of the very people who leveled the accusations and innuendo.

Said local group basically exists only as a Facebook page and an email contact list . . . there is no membership list, there are no meetings, there is no board of directors, there are only folks who are bonded by an appreciation for all that our president has accomplished for America in only two years, people who are proud to be American.

The “group” calls itself “Main Street Patriots, Eastern Shore of Maryland,” and it is not right wing, it is not Republican, in a lot of ways it is not even conservative. It is a pro-Trump bunch of people, period. And even though Trump carried this county by a margin of almost 2 to 1, Trump supporters here are targeted by haters, just as they are across the country.

That said, the Gazette/Ocean City Today article painted a very unfair and inaccurate picture of a group that exists primarily as a Facebook page. Anyone and everyone can comment on that page, and the editors try to weed out inappropriate comment when they come across them.

The majority of those inappropriate, vile, and threatening comments come from people who hate us for supporting our president. In the Gazette article in question, one stupid comment was quoted and sensationalized, and the implication was that the “Main Street Patriots” Facebook page was riddled with threatening messages . . . “the decision [to cancel] was made in response to postings [plural] on the internet, including those [plural] appearing in the Facebook page of “Main Street Patriots Eastern Shore MD” and “When people [plural] threatened to disrupt the presentation, we thought that would raise a safety issue . . . ”

The very people who are angry over the library event being cancelled are the ones telling us of the existence of numerous threatening postings/people! Where are “those postings”? Where are “those people”? Why is one off-the-cuff comment – among the thousands that are posted every week – being used to demonize a group of law-abiding citizens who did absolutely nothing wrong?

In reality, the “safety concerns” expressed in the article were embellishments, exaggerated by those looking to demonize folks who differ in opinion, those looking to blame the cancellation of the event on-an-off-the-cuff, stupid comment posted on Facebook by someone who is not even a resident of this state.

Anyone can post a comment on the page, and in almost every case it is the anti-Trump crowd who post hateful and/or threatening comments. Facebook, like Twitter, is what it is, and with approximately two thousand “follows” and thousands of comments, the page’s editors do their best to monitor comments.

One dumb comment by someone on Facebook (out of thousands and thousands on the page) is being used an excuse to discredit the group and distract from the real issue, which was that a partisan political event was being presented at a taxpayer-funded facility.

Dozens of citizens of Worcester County formally objected to the inappropriateness of that and that alone, and even though many saw the presentation as a hate-fest of anti-Trump sentiment, Mr. Sribnick is certainly entitled to hold the event at a different venue, perhaps at a meeting of a local Democrat group.

Yes, because locals objected to a taxpayer-funded library being used for a Democrat pep-rally presented by a Democratic committeeman, we are told that the meeting was cancelled due to safety concerns.

Oddly enough, there were in fact safety concerns, but not in the way the article states. Worcester County Director of Libraries Jennifer Ranck (who was quoted in the article numerous times) fails to mention that said safety concerns were raised by the Trump supporters who planned on attending, because of the hundred of attacks on Trump supporters nationwide over the last two years (the most recent attack is still in the news, with the attacker charged with three felonies, and the Jesse Smollet “MAGA” hoax has just resulted in a 16 count felony indictment).

Ms. Ranck was well aware that OUR group intended to request the presence of the sheriff’s department (she was contacted by email, and the head librarian of the Berlin branch was notified in person), yet she is quoted in the Gazette as making an accusation that the attendees were “planning to disrupt” the presentation.

So, according to the library director’s quote, the “patriots” were going to disrupt the presentation . . . after requesting that a deputy be there for their own safety. Was the group inviting the deputy so he/she could arrest them when they disrupted the presentation (Ms. Ranck’s words)? Absurd.

So, why didn’t she tell the Gazette reporter that Trump supporters who were planning to attend the event were the ones concerned about safety? Furthermore, why does the entire article fail to address — or even acknowledge — the basis of the objection to the presentation being held at the library (the “why” of a news story): the fact that using the taxpayer funded library as a venue for a partisan political presentation by a Democrat committeeman is not only inappropriate, it’s probably a violation of library policy.

The library director was fully aware of the reason the program was objected to (again, via email), yet — as was the case with the groups stated intention to request the presence of a deputy because of concerns for their safety — it wasn’t mentioned in the article.

So if you folks want to see the original Gazette article discussed here, it’s titled “Conservative groups had planned rallies, prompting cancellation on Wednesday” . . . which by the way is totally incorrect and misleading.

There was no rally or protest planned, as the Facebook post cited here clearly indicates: “We must attend, we must politely speak up to counter the hateful lies that the democrat party regurgitates. We are not suggesting protests . . . attend, and if you like, speak your mind when appropriate. If you choose not to speak be there to lend moral support to those of us who do speak.”

There was no call to rally, there was no call to protest, there were only calls to attend and “speak up politely,” “when appropriate.”

Yes, the presentation was cancelled . . . in fact it should have never been approved. But rather than acknowledge that a taxpayer-funded library should not be used to host a partisan, political event, some obscure comment on Facebook — and planned rallies and protests that did not exist — were used to change the whole focus of the story.

The editorial staff of the Main Street Patriots

Eastern Shore of Maryland

Facebook page

Worcester County

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