The human experience is a constant reminder of the comedy, romance and tragedy of reality. From Memorial Day through Independence Day, we remember Flag Day, Juneteenth, Father’s Day, as well as the anniversaries of the Tulsa massacre, D-Day, Watergate, Bunker Hill, Little Big Horn, Stonewall and Loving and Windsor. Nestled in here is a mosaic of complexity: honor, triumph, sacrifice, tragedy, evil and good.

History’s complexity is the intricacy of humanity. Every person is complicated and every community is interwoven with that messiness. These complexities define generations forming history. Frederick is a part of that weave. No single narrative can tell the story and mono-causal explanations fail to explain the daedal reality of our past and present.

Within this context, I wanted to talk about absolutism. Today’s political rhetoric is too often defied by absolutist language that hunts for fault in our neighbors and their histories, while reducing each other to poor stereotypes. It betrays the true complexity of life.

If this was just the annoyance of social media bickering, toxic comments sections or manipulative media coverage that would be sufferable. If absolutism was just poor analysis, that would be another thing. Too often absolutism is the weapon of choice in political rhetoric by degrading the issues facing our community and perpetually demonizing others.

I was initially inspired to write following the racist remarks in April levied at Del. Brenda Thiam implying that she was a house N-word (the delegate’s words) for being a Black Republican. As a Black Republican, I’ve encountered these viewpoints endlessly: that Black people can only vote one way. It is a commonplace but reductive perspective of a whole race of people that fails to respect the complexity of one’s identity and freedom. Del Thiam dealt with the issue with class. Black Republicans across the county have proven that we are not minstrels for either party but rather freethinking people who can come to our own conclusions despite the hate used to reduce us.

However, this is not just about race or anti-racism. Today’s political rhetoric too often reduces people to single identities and weaponizes concepts, theories, fear and hate in a way that does not seek to foster dialogue, but rather seeks to end it. The rapidity through which language can move these days makes it so much more pernicious.

We’ve seen it impact Frederick in terrible ways. Over the past year, we’ve seen language that has been used to reduce White people and Black people in our community. We’ve seen it used to demonize all teachers at times and all police officers at other times — all Republicans and all Democrats. You see it used against everybody. The content of our character is too often reduced, in bad faith, to one component of our identity.

So much of what fuels this toxicity, is fear and the manipulation (conscious or not) of that fear. Cancel culture persists across the political spectrum. The worst offenders use this as a grift, but too many use it to demonize and silence others. Fear breeds prejudice and it begets distrust. These erode the resilience of our community so that when a true crisis faces us, we are weakened.

As Edward R. Murrow once said, “We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men.” People of virtue and sound mind must contribute to the conversation by speaking up, volunteering and getting engaged. We have elections coming up in the city this year — a great chance to do it.

Political parties need to do better by not drawing micro-targeted artificial lines that divide our communities. The media can do better by embracing complexity and telling the fullest extent of any narrative. Consumers of both can do better by not sowing this fear, distrust and prejudice — don’t buy it. We’re all better than this. We will not be governed by fear. Furthermore, the competition of pointing to which side or group is worse is an endless race to the bottom.

There is no path forward with the weaponized rhetoric of today’s politics. Communities are not built with weapons, they are torn down by them. We build from engagement and conversation. For those to happen we need not just tolerance, but the respect for each other as precious human lives (as fallible sinners). With respect we seek understanding, and with that we can afford grace to one another.

This does not mean we all have to agree. There are important issues at hand. Perpetual moderation is not the solution. These issues should be discussed openly and with real heat when warranted. But we don’t need to tear each other down to do it. Not only is it the cheap way out; it’ll ultimately be our end.

Many are worried about what we will hand off to future generations. Our political culture is critical to our community’s long-term success. It’s conservative to care about tradition, but it is also conservative to be concerned with how we pass those traditions to our successors. We are all inheritors to legacies in Frederick that are not our own. Future generations need us to overcome the grievances of yesterday and build a community that looks past tomorrow.

Dylan Diggs is the president of the Republican Club of Frederick County.

(26) comments

Hayduke2

Mr Diiggs, do you believe the last presidential election was secure and won fairly? Do you, as the party head, believe the " Big Lie." If not, do you speak out to your party against the "Big LIe."

Awteam2021

There are only 13 Black Republicans among the more than 7,500 Black men and women serving across the country as state senators or representatives. Freethinking people who the voters came to their own conclusions. I think that’s greatly disproportionate. Right?

Awteam2021

Maybe theirs a problem with the Republican Party’s message to Blacks? And their legislative record.

Blacks aren’t divided. And you as the only Black local Republican leader hasn’t changed and won’t change that, unless you have programs, directives, plans to address black people concerns and reform the Republican (Trump) Party, you don’t have a chance. Heads up, trying to bring back Jim Crow restrictions on voting rights or saying other Blacks refer to you as an “Uncle Tom” doesn’t help you or the Republican Party with Blacks. I think you’re playing the “good black” to encourage white voters to you. Not Blacks.

gabrielshorn2013

Thoughtful and well-written column Mr. Diggs. Kudos.

threecents

Absolutism and inflexible thinking are the big problems dividing the country. With all the one-sided news/entertainment sources designed to cause and benefit from divisiveness, it is difficult to avoid looking at the world through left or right colored glasses. Please at least be aware enough to know that all sides have a tendency to do that, and listening to the polarizing characters makes it worse - not better. It reminds me of that Twilight Zone episode, "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street".

pdl603

Wonderful LTE. I can’t help but be a little disgusted with the comments from the usual suspects. If this is what you get when one offers an olive branch, then heaven help this great country’s future.

Dylan make that 4 Republican votes.....but not necessarily for you per se..

so PDL you thought Dylan was offering an olive branch to us non-republicans? That's how you read the letter? Interesting...and what about our comments is disgusting? Because I feel bad I may have offended Dylan?

Awteam2021

Dylan, why can’t you talk about the Republican agenda? Rather then their fear mongering, fed to the ignorant and racist. Only divisiveness built out of outright lies and race baiting. Lie of the month , “critical race theory”. The Republican National Party (Trumpism) is destroying the local party.

Your letter is lame. Please next time right about policies. Share your approach, your plan to address community issues and needs and please stop philosophizing.

gjthuro

DD, you said a mouthful and you said it well...all the left wants is your vote and they don't much care how they get it and that is shameful

Dylan you have Jethro’s vote, so far I think you have three possible votes as I read the comments? But I think they were going to vote Republican anyway? Dylan the typical Republican isn’t going to understand a thing you just wrote. Your sermon went right over their heads because as you know most Republicans haven’t even read their own bibles, guarantee you they haven’t heard a word you just wrote!

threecents

GJT, I think you meant to say that about the right, not the left. You got your hands mixed up.

shiftless88

I would point out that the media often DO try to use the fully complex stories but lately your party works to reduce them to sound bites to hurl at anyone with whom they disagree. The Fauci mask bit is indicative of this (the entire COVID response, really). Global warming is another complex topic that conservatives seem to want reduced to sound bites. Systemic racism, white privilege and others. I agree; most issues are complex so let's have serious discussions about them. We are waiting for you to join this discussion.

eak1969123

Excellent letter, thoughtful, plausible and a perspective we would all do well to embrace. Two earlier comments certainly prove your point about absolutism. Hope you become more of a force in local politics.

Dwasserba

So many words. “…the competition of pointing to which side or group is worse is an endless race to the bottom.” I agree with these.

yogib

I agree about Fear however your party is rampant with fear, fear of Trump, fear of people like you, fear of science, fear of education, fear of voting. good luck

Plumbum

And fear of TRUTH

phydeaux994

Anybody that doesn’t fear what Donald John Trump has done to the unEducated and the deplorable’s to convince them he is a human being is not thinking straight. The comments from the RRR(RadicalRightRepublicans)/BTT(BullyTagTeam) are getting stranger and stranger and more disturbing as Trump sinks into the Swamp of Oblivion. BTW, Ron Desantis is outpolling DJT for 2024. Guess he’ll be on the Sh*tlist soon.

public-redux

This sounds like a sermon.

veritas

Public... ever the cynic, perceiving foolish, misguided believers behind every tree. Cogent, thoughtful, reasoned and eloquently expressed writing that expresses a heartfelt point of view stands on its own, cynicism notwithstanding.

public-redux

I was being cynical? That’s news to me. Where did you pull that observation from?

phydeaux994

veritas, why do you support Donald John Trump? Do you think he was good for America as POTUS?

threecents

I am not religious, but I do like sermons.

Public yeah it does sound like a sermon...and you know if Rev. Al Sharpton came to preach anywhere close to me I would go and listen to him preach...do you find that odd? Sometimes I find that odd ? But I consider myself a skeptic not a cynic ..that may be why I'd go and hear him give a sermon..also I don't see you as a cynic..V may not be familiar with her definitions though?

public-redux

Perhaps veritas’ exposure to sermons has been limited in quantity or range. The “I have a Dream” speech sounds like a sermon to my ear. I like listening to a well-crafted and delivered sermon. I can readily imagine this well-crafted column being delivered orally.

jsklinelga

Mr. Diggs.

Vey well written/ It is welcoming to read an intelligent and articulate letter that is not one dimensional but explores the complexities of our day to day living and our heritage.

Let us pray it is not "pie in the sky" wishful thinking. You are correct. It will take people like yourself, speaking out, and acting ou, to overcome the many hurdles that divide us. We have always had division in this country even before it was founded. It is not hew. How we deal with it will be our legacy and our children's inheritance.

At least he can count on your vote JSK...me the skeptic I am cannot just accept what Dylan is preaching as the truth..because I am always questioning the truth as true..but you don't.....I can't just blindly accept what a POC Republican is preaching..until I have proof....?

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