On Saturday, the newspaper of record in Colorado published a letter to the editor demanding the execution of President Donald Trump. The paper’s opinion editor insisted that was not the author’s intent, but the letter speaks for itself.
“If it walks like a traitor, and talks like a traitor, and acts like a traitor … it is a traitor,” Lakewood resident Suzanne Gagnon wrote in a letter to the editor published by The Denver Post on Saturday. Gagnon did not hesitate to suggest what should be done with “traitors” like Trump.
“Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were executed on a basis of far less evidence than is had on Trump and many in his administration,” she wrote. “Besides being in agreement with the actions recommended in the editorial of July 19, I believe there are many more actions that can and should be taken against Trump to keep him from destroying the U.S.”
Execution is the historic punishment for traitors, and Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were Soviet spies convicted and executed for espionage. While the Rosenbergs’ children argue that their father did not deserve the death penalty and that their mother was wrongly convicted, there is a broad consensus among historians that both were guilty, but their trial was marred by clear judicial and legal improprieties. Many historians argue they should not have been executed. In the words of Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, they were “guilty — and framed.”
It is possible that Suzanne Gagnon’s sentence about the Rosenbergs could be read as a call to not have them executed, but in the context of her declaration of Trump as a traitor and her ominous suggestion that “many more actions … can and should be taken against Trump to keep him from destroying the U.S.,” it seems far more likely she was indeed calling for Trump’s execution.
The Denver Post defended publishing the letter to the editor, however, arguing that Gagnon did not call for Trump’s execution.
“We would never run a letter suggesting that the president of the United States be executed,” Megan Schrader, editor of the editorial page, told the Washington Free Beacon. “Upon reviewing this letter, I don’t think that was the letter writer’s intent.”
“She wrote to be critical of an editorial I wrote lauding Sen. Cory Gardner’s efforts to impose sanctions on Russia and supportive of another editorial we had run that suggested actions Congress could take to respond to the Helsinki press conference,” Schrader argued.
Indeed, Gagnon was responding to an article by the Denver Post editorial board defending Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) for supporting legislation that is tough on Vladimir Putin’s Russia, despite his tepid remarks about Trump’s summit with Putin in Helsinki, Finland.
“Sen. Cory Gardner is insipid, at best,” Gagnon began. She concluded with strong words: “If our leader doesn’t support any swift, significant pushback against Russian meddling, our votes aren’t worth much.”
Compass Colorado, a conservative nonprofit organization, attacked the letter to the editor as in line with the “increasingly violent tone” of left-wing political rhetoric.
“The mere fact the Denver Post would publish a letter to the editor with this type of language speaks to both the increasingly violent tone of liberals in Colorado politics and the desperation of the Post for readership,” Kelly Maher, Compass Colorado’s executive director, told the Washington Free Beacon.
“This trend of violent language in Colorado is deeply concerning,” Maher added. “Just a few months ago the Boulder Daily Camera published a letter to the editor asking if citizens have a moral responsibility to take arms against oil and gas well workers, and the liberal group ProgressNow Colorado tweeted out a picture of Senator Cory Gardner with blood on his hands after a shooting, and now this Denver Post letter.”
— ProgressNow Colorado (@ProgressNowCO) May 18, 2018
“This violent and divisive rhetoric will do nothing to change hearts or minds, it’s designed to entrench and inflame,” Maher concluded.
Indeed, political polarization has led to a breakdown of civility. While Donald Trump called for violence against protesters at his rallies, the Left began the spiral of political warfare by pushing the Supreme Court to act like a super legislator, reinterpreting the Constitution to fit their political goals. This unleashed the “culture wars,” and Trump’s aggressive rhetoric is a reaction to increasing political correctness — yet another liberal attempt to stifle debate and declare themselves the winners.
Now, liberal activists have harassed Trump administration officials in public places and off of work, and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) has called for even more harassment. This also follows a long-running smear campaign by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), marking mainstream conservative groups “hate groups” and listing them along with the Ku Klux Klan. This campaign has resulted in at least one terrorist attack, and may have been connected to the Congressional Baseball Game shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.).
Democrat rhetoric branding Trump a “traitor,” just like rhetoric branding him a “fascist,” merely enflames anger and hatred against the president, and seems tragically fated to encourage violence against him. Just as liberals feel justified in “beating up a Nazi,” so they might feel justified in calling for Trump’s execution for being a “traitor.”
The Denver Post should reconsider its position on this. I understand their hesitation to pull a letter to the editor, and their rush to reinterpret the letter as non-violent, but I respectfully disagree with their decision. Gagnon’s letter certainly suggests Trump should be executed, and The Denver Post is right that no such letter should be run.