Saturday, June 03, 2023

Letters to the editor March 26

| March 26, 2023 12:00 AM

New settlers

I was graduated in 1968 from Montana State University, and at that time Bozeman was one of the world’s greatest places. But since that time it has been developed, redeveloped and over-developed and I can’t conceive driving through this traffic-congested town to visit old familiar bars, such as the Molly Brown. And now I’m shedding tears.

But in an effort to be less dramatic I would say that Bozeman has exceeded its carrying capacity, meaning further growth will result in a destructive population. For support, it helped me to reread A.B. Guthrie’s book “The Big Sky.” (Published 1947)

Here the author explains how devastating to the land the influx of new settlers will be to the country. Guthrie, who won a Pulitzer prize, allows the book’s protagonist to summarize his feelings.

Mountain man Boone Caudill encounters settlers on a wagon train trip that will take these people through what are now Montana, Idaho and Oregon. After a lengthy discussion, he tells these interlopers that they have no business going there, and when they ask him why the trapper responds saying, “just goddamn because.”

Local newspapers, whose inviting essays have helped double the population of Montana’s Flathead these past few years (making it horribly difficult to visit Glacier National Park where I once worked as a ranger), say we should welcome these invasive hordes. I think not, and my response would be exactly the same as Boone Caudill’s!

In the meantime, I am canceling my subscription to Time magazine. Just… because. Instead, I am going to read and reread “The Big Sky,” and Guthrie’s equally informative and insightful sequel, “The Way West.”

Knowing my sentiments are now aligned with important authors is comforting, but if I can somehow encourage others to agree, perhaps together we can prevent the Flathead from further exceeding its carrying capacity, which is proving to be libelous.

— Bert Gildart, Bigfork

Defining wokeness

Everything I don’t like is woke.

Public Schools. Woke. Basic Human Rights: Woke. Homeless shelters, pineapple on pizza, testicular cancer. All woke.

Republicans love this word, but are chronically unable to define it. The internet is full of right-wing thinkers stumbling over their own definitions, but the one that I like best comes from theoretical Florida governor and future mattress salesman Ron DeSantis. In 2022 his own attorneys were forced to define it, and thus described it as “the belief there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them.”

Which kind of makes sense why Republicans would want to avoid it. Rather than engage with the idea of historic injustice, they’d prefer to label it as woke — after all, logic, understanding and basic linguistic skills mean little to modern Republican leadership. Woke is simply a useful boogeyman. A catch-all term for their bigotry du jour.

Which makes the recent focus on school choice easier to understand. School choice advocates are familiar with the fact that families have always had the choice to pay for private Christian school. They just don’t want to have to pay for the privilege of deleting things like historic racism, systematic oppression of the poor, an economy of exploitation of workers and the environment, abuses of a whole spectrum of minority groups by the American state, and all those other woke things that make them feel bad.

I actually appreciate understanding the value and power of this word woke. So now I can spend my time asking our local county commissioners to fix these woke broken roads everywhere, work on solutions to this woke housing crisis, and feed the woke hungry families in our communities, to address the woke traffic. To do their woke, taxpayer-funded jobs.

Am I doing it right?

— Sean Anderson, Kalispell

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