MOORHEAD — Can we ignore them now? And if we do, will they go away? Please?
We're talking about the anti-mask zealots who've taken it upon themselves to intimidate and bully school boards, trying to make life as miserable as possible for engaged locals trying to serve their communities.
It's all part of the plan, you see. If the good people don't want to serve, that leaves openings for the extremists to sit on school boards. Or city councils. Or county commissions.
After two Byron, Minn., school board members (who held different views on mask requirements, by the way) resigned on the same day last month citing the toll COVID issues were taking on their mental and physical health, it was seen as a victory by extreme right-wingers.
Clay County Republican Party chairman Edwin Hahn, with his wife Lisa are ringleaders of disrupting Moorhead school board meetings over masking policies, posted a link on Facebook to a right-wing media outlet article about Byron with the following message:
"Make. It. Personal."
Hahn was encouraging personal attacks on school board members.
The Hahns have no children in the Moorhead district. So what's their motivation, aside from Edwin's personal political aspirations? To drive good and earnest people from the board, and perhaps chase good and earnest people from administration.
Some are trying to both-sides this, saying the combativeness is equal from the anti-maskers and the pro-maskers. There is some pro-mask stupidity, no question. But the vast majority of the anger and confrontation comes from the anti-maskers. It is a purposeful beatdown, meant to grind and wear on those trying to do a difficult job.
There are no easy solutions in this pandemic and the anti-maskers see that as a wedge to exploit.
All we as community members and taxpayers can say is, "Please hang in there, good people. It'll get better. Hopefully soon."
We can't promise, but we can try to help.
Here's one way: Remember the zealots are a super-minority, loud and boorish but small in number. A growing majority of Americans are in favor of mandates meant to blunt the spread of COVID, including those involving masks and vaccines.
Here's another way: We, as a society, can largely ignore them. And that includes we, the media, who are attracted to loud boors the way moths flock to light. It makes for better copy, better video, better sound.
But the fact regarding recent anti-mask protests at Moorhead schools is that they drew just a handful of people. A protest at Moorhead High School included a few families that numbered fewer than 20 people. A total of 10 showed up for a protest outside Horizon Middle School.
A few who turned out at Horizon weren't from Moorhead and didn't have children in the district.
It's performative outrage, meant to intimidate school board members and gain attention.
It's difficult and at times ugly, by design.
But it's also temporary. Ignoring the clowns putting on the performance will help.