I thought there could be no piece of liberal ephemera triter than those “It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber” bumper stickers that were popular in the 1990s.
Hold my beer, 2020 said. Here’s the rainbow sign.
You’ve probably seen them. Usually using some variation on the good old pride flag, it’ll say something like, “In this house, we believe Black Lives Matter, women’s rights are human rights, no human is illegal, science is real, love is love, kindness is everything.” That treacly lawn placard is available on Amazon for $10. If you have a bit more cash to burn and want something sturdier, Signs of Justice has a $20 version that includes “water is life” and “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Never mind that this money would have exponentially more influence if it were donated to an actual campaign, say, than wasted a liberal virtue signal. Usually, all it does is demarcate a house where at least one strident bore lives. In York, Maine, it’s managed to go a bit further: It’s marked the town government as a hive of strident bores.
In June, the town made news when its Committee to Combat Racism and Bias launched what the Portsmouth Herald charitably called a “public art campaign” designed to “spread a welcoming message to all people who live in and travel to the community.”
Here’s the “public art” — a sign that says “York believes … welcome matters, action matters, systems matter, education matters, training matters, black lives matter.”
— The York Weekly (@TheYorkWeekly) June 26, 2021
“When you drive through any environment, the things that you see around you communicate what’s important to wherever you’re visiting,” committee member Anne Bancroft said.
“We felt our task was to get the word out there that the proclamation exists … because it doesn’t really do much if nobody hears about the proclamation or sees it,” she added.
I’m sure there’s a Mrs. Robinson joke to be made here — except Bancroft comes across as a bit more humorless than the actress of the same name and there’s a high probability she’s a Ms. kind of woman, so it’ll remain unmade.
Just know this pro-wokeness sign took six months to complete and went through “many design iterations,” according to the Portsmouth Herald’s Camille Fine. I know amateur Photoshop fiddlers who’d be embarrassed if this took them more than 10 minutes.
Each of the lines represents one bullet point on a six-point town anti-bias proclamation. In other words, not only did they take half a year to come up with this, they already knew what was supposed to go on it.
If one ever needed proof that government has no self-awareness when it comes to its molasses-like efficiency, consider the words of select board Chair Todd Frederick when the final work was presented: “Your committee has done a remarkable job in a very short amount of time.” If that’s really his impression, I tremble to think what road work in York, Maine, must be like.
No word on how much the design cost, but they spent $3,000 in total producing it. I’m not sure how much York resident Charlie Black II spent on his rejoinder, but it certainly wasn’t $3,000 and it made roughly as much news as the original:
Shortly after the York anti-bias committee began to disseminate its #BlackLivesMatter signs, a nearly identical rainbow-colored sign appeared outside one York Street home, albeit with a different message. https://t.co/AE7KdTWmyC @TheYorkWeekly @CamilleCFine @seacoastonline
— Steven Porter (@reporterporter) August 5, 2021
Liberals may think this sign is great until they take a second look and realize it’s an inversion on the usual trope: “We believe liberty matters, free speech matters, veterans matter, police matter, peace matters, life matters.”
According to an Aug. 5 Portsmouth Herald report, Black said he’s received a positive reaction to his sign.
“We put out our own sign with a message that we felt more comfortable with, and many people have voiced their support and asked where they can get a similar sign,” he wrote in an online forum.
The sign is free — although there’s a suggested $15 donation with the money going to more signs or, if there’s not enough interest, to help a local lobsterman and firefighter who’s battling cancer.
Black had previously courted controversy with the town’s liberals when he hung a “Thin Blue Line” flag outside his house in honor of his father, a Maine State Trooper shot and killed by bank robbers in 1964.
“The flag became a point of contention in discussions around racism, police brutality and diversity within the town, and Black said the recent signs created by the anti-bias committee brought back hurtful memories for him and his mother, Mary Black Andrews,” Fine reported in the Portsmouth Herald.
Black had spoken at a town meeting in July, where dozens of individuals registered their concerns with the signage. In particular, he took issue with the anti-bias committee’s claim that the phrase “Black Lives Matter” had nothing to do with the avowedly Marxist organization but instead with marginalized black individuals.
“What makes the name, which was originally just a hashtag, so clever is that one can’t write or utter the term ‘Black Lives Matter’ and at the same time separate the political group from the concept,” Black said in July.
“Nobody I know would argue that black lives don’t matter, but it shouldn’t be the first thing that a person sees when venturing to our town’s website.”
The anti-bias committee tried to spin Black’s sign in a positive light, penning a letter to the editor published in The York Weekly which said they were “excited to see the creation of additional signs affirming the values of liberty and free speech, that veterans matter as do police, not least peace and life in general.”
“None of these values are exclusive of the ones committed to in the Proclamation, or vice versa,” the letter continued. “York is strong and resilient enough for all, and like our welcome card assures everyone, ‘We’re glad you’re here!'”
Black’s sign wasn’t the only pushback on the Committee to Combat Racism and Bias’ “public art” campaign. City employees expressed discomfort that the committee would place the signage at town facilities, as well.
\In an email, town manager Steve Burns said it wasn’t his intention “to make any of you uncomfortable,” then used a whole lot of language meant to specifically discomfit anyone in political opposition to the sign.
“Silence is, in fact, support of a status quo that for centuries has disadvantaged many communities of people,” he wrote in the July 20 email.
“We need more dialogue,” Burns added. “We need to educate ourselves. We need to be respectful of each other’s beliefs and perspectives, even if we don’t always understand or agree … we need to be willing to forgive others who stumble, and rest assured each of us is likely to stumble from time to time.”
Interesting question, then: If the people of York, Maine “need to be respectful of each other’s beliefs and perspectives,” will Burns and the town be ordering some of Black’s signage and putting it on town property?
Given that “York is strong and resilient enough for all,” surely they can find some space for it. And I bet Black can do it all for a lot less than $3,000.
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