Like a Bad Penny…

The Cambridge Dictionary defines a “straw man” as

an argument, claim, or opponent that is invented in order to win or create  an  argument

Cambridge Dictionary

When such a thing or concept is presented, it is best to step back and consider the purpose and who has WHAT to gain. Oftentimes, this is a tactic used when people engage in political battles.

Consider a recent event happening here in Belknap County. In the Friday edition of the Laconia Daily Sun, a story appeared discussing some rather hate-filled “white nationalist” supporting graffiti that had been found at the former State School property in Laconia.

Last summer, groundskeeper Tristan Chase began documenting instances of the graffiti throughout the abandoned complex before painting over them.

March 16 Daily Sun

And of course, NOBODY supports such stupid and unpopular notions outside of a few random crackpots. Certainly, slogans and symbols spray painted in some obscure location is not going to create some type of a mass movement. Furthermore, a reasonable person might assume that those engaged in such activities might be seeking nothing more than the expected reaction and publicity that will predictably result. In my opinion- the less exposure and coverage these things are given, the less you will see further occurrences. The so-called “copycat” criminals and troublemakers will have less encouragement to carry out similar deeds.

So why did the Daily Sun suddenly feel the need to broadcast the story with its ugly messages on the front page of the Friday paper? How many people actually visit the abandoned property and view its crumbling buildings and the expected vandalism that always accompanies such places? Cannot the old adage that asks, “If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, does it actually make a sound?” be applied here? If nobody sees and reads hateful things, why make an effort to spread it around and amplify it?

Ah, but now, we find a NEW player entering the field with this story. One that might, perhaps, be seeking to use it for some gain beyond that of simply condemning what the vast majority of sentient people already oppose. Cue up the Citizens For Belknap (C4B) political action committee…

Interestingly, days BEFORE the story hit the front page, the group sent an email to the elected state representatives of the Belknap County Delegation asking them to be prepared AHEAD of time with a response:

Dear xxxxxxxxx – –

This is to give you a heads up on a news story that will be in the papers in the next few days, and give you a chance to prepare a statement.

White Supremacist/Nazi graffiti has been found spray painted at the Laconia State School, (pictures in PDF attached)  bearing the mark of NSC-131 .  This is the second incident in Laconia in recent months, along with similar incidents in Franklin & Portsmouth.   Local, state and federal law enforcement are reviewing Laconia’s situation, as well as the other New Hampshire cities. 

We know that you share our opposition to extremism in all its forms.  We’ve prepared a statement which speaks out against these actions, and calling on all of our elected officials to speak out.  

As soon as the news story appears, we encourage you to be the FIRST to speak out with your own statement, by calling the paper, or putting in letter-to-the-editor or op-ed.   Our statement will appear a day or two later.   

Your statement will serve to draw a contrast between YOUR values, and the values of other elected officials who may choose NOT to stand up to this behavior.

Thank you for your service to our communities, our county and our state.

Alan Posnack – Co-Chair

Prudy Veysey – Co-Chair

Email from Citizens for Belknap

The email also included an attached PDF with the documentation alluded to at the top of this post. Readers are cautioned that it contains some vulgar language and hateful statements and symbols.

Email from Citizens for Belknap

OK- so the big question to ask yourself as a member of the Delegation is this:

Why is the C4B group looking to “help” me? ESPECIALLY if I’m a Republican? WHY are they seeking individual members to issue specific statements?

Why indeed? Since they readily state the obvious: “We know that you share our opposition to extremism in all its forms.” So what is the purpose to take the extra step? Isn’t the best way to combat these cowardly acts of hatred and vandalism to STOP giving it publicity and exposure?

There are also other things to consider with this particular event. How exactly did a POLITICAL group know that the paper would produce this story? And why is the paper allowing itself to seemingly work in concert with such a group? Beyond that, it is no secret that this “non partisan” group tends towards the liberal, Democrat side. Why would they care whether or not certain Republicans draw some sort of contrast regarding values? Consider this from the email:

“This is to give you a heads up on a news story that will be in the papers in the next few days, and give you a chance to prepare a statement.”


“Your statement will serve to draw a contrast between YOUR values, and the values of other elected officials who may choose NOT to stand up to this behavior.”

C4B email

See what they are doing? The whole point is to sow discord and division among members of the Delegation. It’s pretty obvious- if you DON’T acquiesce to their demand, they will paint you as an extremist hateful white supremacist. Of course, if you DO submit to their bidding, what’s to prevent them from making future demands? At some point, THEY will drive the narrative and cause you as an elected official to constantly follow their demands and do THEIR bidding. This is NOT the way to represent and lead. This is a way to become a meek hostage. This is the way they will bring chaos and confusion. This is a way to cause voters to question why they would support you. This is the way that they will work to get THEIR candidates elected in the next cycle.

They might act like they are your friend, offering to “help.” THEY ARE NOT! Look at how close the balance of power is in the current NH House. If the Democrats can simply pick off a handful of Republicans, everything changes. A few right here in Belknap County could swing the whole state.

Beware that wolf in sheep’s clothing! Or, Lucy with that football. Take your pick. Just don’t fall for it!

[Let me just note as an aside- I am a history geek and enjoy viewing old abandoned places in person and online. Outside of guarded premises and parks and museums, finding rude images and sayings spray painted everywhere is a normal occurrence that I find disgusting. I wish that such places could remain free of this senseless vandalism and destruction. But alas, it’s the reality found throughout our country and the world. The Laconia State School property is no exception. I suspect that one reason this happens is that the people that perpetrate such acts know they can do such things unseen and at small risk of getting caught. The images below are from Fort Wetherill in Rhode Island. Did some group demand that state representatives there denounce racism and hate as a result? Nope. It just gets ignored. The people that DO go there and see it simply shrug it off. To them, it’s just some sort of urban “art.” To others, perhaps a sign of urban “decay.”]

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