Post Mills, Vt.
Responses to last week's column on damage in farm country from the president's trade war were mostly favorable. I was surprised. When I write a commentary that exposes the stupidity of Trumpanista cultism, the cultists go all hissy fit. Not this time, so far. A sample.
From a reader who grew up on a farm near Casselton, N.D.: (My parents') "favorite topic was welfare and 'why don't they get a job?' ...as an adult I was able to counter my parents observations of 'welfare.' I pointed out I used Pell Grants for my education; their granddaughters received free lunch at school; my mortgage was subsidized by FHA ... and YOU, dear dad, get a nice sugar beet subsidy check every year along with a dozen other farm support programs. ... He got my point. ...Your piece was spot on. Hope you don't take too much grief. I hope no farmer is forced to sell his $65,000 pick-up truck."
I say: Sometimes lessons learned closest to home are the most heuristic.
A reader who works with farmers said: "I ask them is Trump farm friendly. They don't know how to answer. ...the irony of the welfare aspect is too much. Thank you for pointing out that ... nagging fact. It's exactly that: welfare for the people who have claimed to hate it the most. Loved the column."
I say: Let's not hang the same feedbag on all of them, as the next response illustrates.
A farmer from northeast N.D. said: Most farm families ... including myself, work hard as we can to try and turn a profit; most ... have a second job ... a working wife and daycare ... I work 100 hours a week. That sound like somebody who wants 'welfare'? ... Some of your points are valid ... but please refrain from bashing those of us who are not corporate farming."
It doesn't matter whether a farmer is small or large. The issue is fealty to Trump, even as he double-crosses his dupable bezzies.
A reader objected to the term. "Consider retiring 'welfare queen(s).' ... it's incredibly sexist. It ages you."
Oh, c'mon. It's generic. How about "welfare kings." Wait, that's sexist, too, isn't it? It ages me? Is that ageism? I dunno. I forget stuff. Gettin' old.
An area agribusinessman said: "While I agree with virtually every sentiment ... I ask you consider whether it might be more effective to refrain from (using terms) 'pathetic lickspittles' (and) 'drooling like dogs.' ... The state of our national discourse has degenerated enough. As a senior member of the media, please consider lifting up, rather than pushing down that discourse."
My response: The terms are apt descriptions of conduct. Act hypocritically, you're a hypocrite. Tell lies, you're a liar. If the shoe fits ...
Finally, gems from North Dakota media colleagues:
From the east: "Hard hitting, factual and extremely well written. I hope you made some area farmers think about what this president is doing to them."
From the far west, quoting from last week's column: "'... a pathetic tribe of lickspittles ...' My chortle of the day!"
Zaleski retired in 2017 after 30 years as The Forum’s editorial page editor. He continues to write a Sunday column. Contact him at email@example.com or 701-566-3576.