To the Editor:
I write in response to the Oct. 28, 2018, letter by Alfred E. “Sonny” Sanders (Voice of the Reader: Head-scratcher). Mr. Sanders expresses confusion about the proposed resolution I authored opposing Donald Trump’s visit, juxtaposing Section 1, which states in part that Council is “... reaffirming Carbondale’s status as a safe and welcoming community ...” with Section 2, which states in part that “The City Council declares Donald J. Trump unwelcome ...”
Mr. Sanders suggests that “... you’re welcome in Carbondale as long as you think like they do, speak like they do and act like they do and if you don’t, then you’re not welcome.” The implication is that the resolution was hypocritical.
I hope to resolve the apparent contradiction. In 1945, the philosopher Karl Popper described what he called the paradox of tolerance. In his words, “... if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. ” Popper argued that we should suppress intolerance only when public opinion and rational argument cannot keep it in check. Obviously no municipal government can prevent a presidential visit. In the resolution — which is available online — I attempted to make a rational argument against Trump’s intolerance and influence public opinion against it.
Carbondale is welcoming, and home to residents of all political persuasions. Our Council includes conservative and moderate Republicans, at least one liberal Democrat, a Green, and others. In my view, however, the intolerant should be unwelcome in our city.