Educators pleaded for the DOJ to be proactive in preventing violence and chaos from erupting at school board meetings. The DOJ said they would protect public officials. My opponent called this response "un-American". Jack Bergman's reckless support of vitriol stokes division and discord. It is the catalyst behind threats and violence.
NORTHERN, Mich. — On Oct. 7, 2021, Jack Bergman was one of 60 Republicans to write a letter to the DOJ "demanding answers" about Attorney General Garland's condemnation of violence against school board members across the Nation.
My opponent described the chaotic scenes as increased "civic involvement and participation at local government forums." Unfortunately, this discourse is anything but "civil." Instead, it has involved threats to public officials, disorderly conduct, and occasionally outright violence. This behavior is a concerning state of affairs reflective of our increasingly divisive political climate, and Jack Bergman's reckless rhetoric incites further discord.
The letter from the Department of Justice he is challenging came as a response to the National School Boards Association (NSBA) requesting law enforcement take proactive measures after various violent events at school board meetings across the U.S. As my opponent has falsely claimed, it did not come from a "heavy-handed" way to "intimidate parents."
"Threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation's core values," said Garland. So he is "directing the Federal Bureau of Investigation, working with each United States Attorney, to convene meetings with federal, state, local, Tribal, and territorial leaders in each federal judicial district within 30 days of the issuance of this memorandum. These meetings will facilitate the discussion of strategies for addressing threats against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff, and will open dedicated lines of communication for threat reporting, assessment, and response. The Department is steadfast in its commitment to protect all people in the United States from violence, threats of violence, and other forms of intimidation arid harassment."
A commendable statement.
I encourage citizens to read and listen to the reality of the situation and decide for themselves if this is civil discourse or concerning threats made to public service employees. Is this the type of civil discourse we want to encourage? Or is it the type of civil discourse that is unproductive and harmful to our community?
Civil discourse and participation make our democracy strong, but threats, scare tactics, and intimidation are not what any politician should support. Unfortunately, this is precisely what's happening, even in our district. The letter from the NSBA referenced a situation in Michigan that is incredibly disheartening:
"During two separate school board meetings in Michigan, an individual yelled a Nazi salute in protest to masking requirements." Threats, disorderly conduct, violence and chaos have broken out at school board meetings across the U.S. In Michigan, BoE protestors give Nazi salutes and even drove a health official off the road at 70mph.
Is this what my opponent referenced when he said "meetings may get heated" where parents are simply voicing "their passions and concerns for their children and their futures"?
As one of many dedicated public health medical directors in Michigan working to keep our communities healthy and safe, I watch in utter disgust as my colleagues are called "devils" by a very vocal minority. We're told we have blood on our hands, that there will be a "revolution against this tyranny," that we all should be arrested, and worse.
Is this the civil discourse our current Representative supports?
I am always eager to listen to feedback and concerns. Public figures build armor against attack and outrage, but Jack Bergman publicly and officially supporting this vile type of engagement with a Congressional letter is not leadership.
Defending the vitriol as "civil involvement and participation in local government from parents who are simply voicing their passions and concerns for their childrens' futures" is an outlandish perspective on what's really happening on the ground.
Attacking the DOJ, calling the most respected law enforcement agency of the nation "unAmerican" for committing to protect public servants is wrong. This is the exact catalyst behind threats and violence.
Our Congressman is skewing reality, misleading, and grandstanding for political gain. He is stoking division and discord. His questions are rhetorical, they have already been answered, and the reasoning is right in front of him if he chooses to listen. He isn't uniting us. Instead, he is inciting us against each other and dividing us. The Department of Justice merely responds to NASB leadership's request for help from threats they have rarely experienced before. The vocal minority is angry and loud, but most Northern Michiganders and Yoopers are begging for authentic leadership.
I encourage our Congressman to join us in working toward unity and finding answers to complex problems.
We have a choice — ignite fear and anger, or diffuse it. This must stop. We are better. We know better. Let our speech and actions reflect the best of who we are.
Northern Michigan and Upper Peninsula citizens want problem solvers at the helm, not troublemakers, and I am determined to meet their expectations.
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About Dr. Bob Lorinser
Dr. Bob Lorinser is running for U.S. Congress in Michigan’s First District.
After Dr. Bob Lorinser received three advanced degrees (Medical Doctor, Masters of Social Work, and Masters in Public Health), he worked as a social worker in a Veteran’s Affairs Hospital and with the Indian Health Service, serving the Navajo Nation. In 1989, he found his home in Michigan’s First District, where he practiced family medicine for three decades.
Dr. Bob joined the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Services in 2011 to serve as a diplomat and Regional Medical Officer. The Lorinsers served the United States for ten years, with tours in Pakistan, South Korea, Afghanistan, Morocco, and Iraq.
When he returned to the states in 2020, Dr. Bob offered his services as Medical Director of Marquette County Health Department. For more information, visit VoteDrBob.com.