Look What I Found in the Ol’ Mailbox

I must infer that the Ethan Allen Institute is hurting for money. How else to explain the fact that an EAI fundraising plea ended up in my mailbox? And yes, it was addressed to me personally, not to “Occupant.”

The hardy-har-har political “cartoon” above was part of the solicitation. It poses the ludicrous proposition that the Black Lives Matter movement, Extinction Rebellion, Antifa and the 1619 Project all spring from the poisoned well of Marxism.


BLM and Extinction Rebellion are nonviolent protest movements. “Antifa” is basically a right-wing boogeyman; it’s decidedly not an organization, let alone one capable of overthrowing the global political order. And for God’s sake, the 1619 Project was conducted by the New York Times. Which is, need I remind you, a for-profit corporation.

No Marxists there, except in the fevered imagination of EAI President Rob Roper, who signed this thing.

So let’s take a look at the rest of the thing. The letter begins with a dire warning:

The nation and Vermont are at a tipping point. We have to decide if we are going to maintain the Constitutional freedoms set in place by our founders — the ideas and principles that made us the greatest country in the world — or abandon them for a path toward socialism, speech codes, and McCarthyite blacklisting of citizens who expreess anything other trhan obedience to a single-party agenda.

Referring to the Democratic Party, presumably. Which is hogwash. The party, nationally and in Vermont, is a broad coalition that can barely agree on a common agenda, let alone threaten the overthrow of the American way of life. Nothing the Democrats espouse would pave the way for socialism. Nothing would impose speech codes or a “McCarthyite blacklist.”

Which, need I remind you, was a Republican invention.

I realize you have to grab the reader’s attention with fiery rhetoric, but this is deliberate pandering to the Trump/tea party/Proud Boys wing of the conservative movement.

So how are Vermont Democrats trying to transform our state into a Marxist hellhole? Well, mostly by trying to take action on the climate crisis. EAI is all het up about the Transportation Climate Initiative, the regional compact designed to move member states toward renewable energy, and the Global Warming Solutions Act, enacted this year over Gov. Phil Scott’s veto.

That, and possible increases in property taxes, and a single tepid example of “the First Amendment…under attack.” That example is the firing of Windsor High School’s principal over written remarks critical of Black Lives Matter. This is a common conservative fallacy: The First Amendment bars Congress from passing a law limiting free speech. It has no bearing on a workplace dispute. Heck, I lost my job at VTDigger for violating its social media policy. I got fired for speech. But the First Amendment is irrelevant to my situation and the ex-principal’s. Employers have the right to set limits on employee speech. Just as, say, ESPN had the right to dump Jemele Hill for being too political.

So EAI’s list of grievances is nonsense. But let’s allow, for the moment, their characterization of these four items as a Marxist attack on the very foundations of America. What does EAI propose to do about this mortal threat?

Not a hell of a lot, actually.

My entirely hypothetical contribution of “$1000, $500, $250, $100, $50 or another amount” would help EAI do a few things that hardly get any attention. It promises “alerts” on legislation that comes to a vote. It would continue broadcasting “Common Sense Radio,” which EAI pays WDEV to carry. The program’s reach is limited by WDEV’s signal strength, so the vast majority of Vermonters can’t tune in. And the vast majority of those who can, choose not to. There is a video version posted on Facebook, which I’m sure is viewed by a handful of True Believers.

But wait, there’s more!

EAI also distributes weekly opinion pieces to news outlets around the state. Wowee! I bet Antifa is shaking in its boots.

EAI does something that I do find useful. Really. It posts profiles of each state lawmaker including how they voted on key legislation. It’s handy. But it’s not exactly manning the barricades to fight an invasion.

You know, if the situation were anywhere near as dire as EAI would have me believe, these kinds of business-as-usual activities would be ludicrously inadequate.

Oh, they also commissioned an opinion poll. With deliberately slanted questions. Conducted by Advantage, Inc., which is a “voter contact firm” catering to Republicans. It’s not a professional polling operation. But it did manage to whomp up majorities against TCI and GWSA by putting the programs in the worst possible light.

So I won’t be sending in a check. Sorry, EAI. Your feeble fearmongering is unwelcome in this household.


5 thoughts on “Look What I Found in the Ol’ Mailbox

  1. Walter Carpenter

    “Which, need I remind you, was a Republican invention”

    How easily they forget this whenever it is an inconvenient truth for them. There is a lot that are inconvenient truths for them.

  2. Gmavt

    HiJohn. I always look forward to and enjoy your column— even when I don’t agree. This week on EAI was one of my favorites.

    “Just the facts, Mam’m” was all that was needed to make me happy that you served EAI its share of speculation-free humble pie. Ooh la la. Thanks.

    I’m in good shape here and wondering how many blueberries I need to eat to get ready for hibernation. Wouldn’t it be great if we could do that?

    Best wishes for a safe and satisfying holiday, John.


    Senator Claire Ayer


  3. Jan Abbott

    We got one,too. Must be they didn’t notice that we contributed twice as much to Biden this year as to Clinton in 2016, and that was twice as much as we’d ever contributed to a candidate before!

  4. H. Jay Eshelman

    When Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors discussed the history of BLM, its politics, goals and future with Jared A. Ball, a professor of communication studies at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, she described herself and co-founder Alicia Garza as “trained Marxists”.

    Why then do you say there are “No Marxists there, except in the fevered imagination of EAI President Rob Roper”?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s