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Letter: The Irony of North Dakota’s ‘Exceptionalism’ – InForum

Letter: The Irony of North Dakota’s ‘Exceptionalism’ – InForum

Down the street from me, where Sixth Street ends at 17th Avenue (near the West Fargo Hornbachers), a fellow North Dakotan has a sign posted above his front door facing 17th Street; a sign that reads “F— BIDEN.” I live one block north and can read the sign with no problem. I brought the sign to the attention of school and city officials because when it first appeared several months ago, it was the street from which school children were picked up by a West Fargo school bus. No response!

After reading a recent letter to the editor from Dan Gorseth, I felt compelled to say something. His seething disrespect for anything that isn’t Trump compels me to say something. He and his compatriots – the sign makers – call anyone who disagrees with them fools and worse, while simultaneously extolling American exceptionalism. I agree, it is extraordinary to put up a completely vulgar sign in plain sight of children and then be ignored by the politicians (I assume they are invoking free speech).

I used to think the term “exceptionalism” was a compliment to the people I know and continue to work with. But I’ve also traveled extensively, so I know that there are exceptional people in all countries, all faiths, and all races. But now I’ve seen the other side of the coin in my own community. Some of the people I live with in North Dakota are exceptionally negative and exceptionally proud of their negativity.

Forgive me, but I try to imagine someone like my grandfather, who emigrated from Sweden to the United States in time to be drafted to fight in World War I, and who a lifetime later was described by his pastor at his funeral as an extraordinary Christian gentleman, putting up a sign like the one down the street from me. I can’t imagine it. And I can’t imagine my friends doing something like putting up a vulgar sign.

And therein lies the irony. Gorseth and his seething anger, which he seems to allow himself and justify to the rest of us, like the “F— BIDEN” sign makers, drives me in the opposite direction. I don’t hate him or the sign makers or even Trump, but I feel sorry for them. The basis of anger is fear. To be so fearful that you attack anyone who disagrees with you is sick. What you are hearing from me is not a whine, but a warning. Maybe you will get what you want, and then we will all be forced to find our way out of the hole you and others are so confidently digging for all of us.

Alan Peterson lives in West Fargo.