When individuals are targeted with sarcasm, ridicule, and not-so-subtle threats, it's easy to give in to the impulse to respond in kind. It takes a strong, self-assured person to react calmly and in a way that prompts onlookers to silently applaud, and perhaps put the aggressor to shame.
That's why kudos are well-deserved by some of our local elected officials – especially at the municipal level – for refusing to rise to the bait of a handful of malcontents who are determined to tear this community apart.
The blowback from last week's "Kneel at Noon" protests is still simmering, although thanks to the watchful eyes of upstanding citizens, a potentially volatile situation was averted. Protesters were a bit disarmed when a "counterprotester" materialized a week ago Thursday, challenging the basis of the daily event and promising to show up the next day with others.
The man wasn't there Friday, although he had every right to be. His First Amendment privilege of seeking redress of grievance is just as important as that of those shining a spotlight on the Black Lives Matter movement. But a lot of others were there – including Mayor Sue Catron. Later, the individual who caused consternation tried to goad Catron on Facebook into a confrontation. It didn't work. She told one of her defenders that it was OK – essentially, that the other guy had a right to his opinion, and she believes he cares as much about Tahlequah as she does.
Catron refused to let this guy ruffle her feathers, and even threw a sort of compliment his way – although other observers didn't figure he deserved the courtesy. The mayor set an example on this thread that more of us ought to try to follow, difficult though it may be. And she's not the only one.
Since the City Council voted to impose a mask ordinance, they've individually been hit with scathing attacks on social media from "freedom fighters" who have wrongly convinced themselves that mask mandates are unconstitutional. For the most part, officials in the crosshairs either ignore the nasty comments, or react in an even-handed manner. If the meaner detractors weren't embarrassed in the presence of everyone else who was watching, they should have been. They made fools of themselves, and lost what credibility they might have had.
Local law enforcement officials have also remained cool in the face of criticism that dragged them into the same rodeo arena as the incompetent, craven or downright evil cops from elsewhere who have been in the news lately. None of the top local officials have taken a life – Black or otherwise – or demonstrated hair-trigger responses themselves when faced with a potentially deadly situation. Yet they've often been tarred with the same brush in a "guilt-by-association" way. It's not unlike what good journalists face every day, thanks to a legion of self-promoting pundits masquerading as purveyors of truth.
On the other hand, some on the so-called "Blue Lives Matter" mission are not concerned with law and order, unless they approve of the law in question. They hoist the banner of the blue only when it's convenient for them, but if they or their family members run afoul of the law, they'll demonize the cops quicker than you can say "On the ground!" And just like cops aren't fooled by miscreants running around with fake IDs, they're not fooled by these impostors, either.
Most of our elected officials are displaying moxie during these trying times, and if they stumble – as everyone eventually will – the public should look back and see that in many situations, they played the cards they were dealt and turned them into winning hands.