The Chicago Tribune Wednesday published a Letter to the Editor by Richard Porter, a lawyer in Chicago and Illinois’ National Committeeman to the Republican National Committee. The edits to Porter’s letter substantially changed its tone if not its entire meaning, so we are publishing it here as he wrote it:
Freedoms of religion, speech, assembly and to petition government to redress grievances are the first, and perhaps most fundamental, of our Bill of Rights and were on display as thousands of Illinoisans came out over the weekend to protest Governor Pritzker’s one-man rule.
The protests are organic, grass-roots protests. People made their own signs reflecting passion for liberty and anger over Pritzker’s arbitrary and unreasonable rules. Protestors demanded policies protecting those most at risk from Covid-19 without infringing the liberty of citizens less at risk — and they demand the same freedoms that the Governor’s own family enjoys. This is the First Amendment at work: concerned citizens petitioning the Governor to respect and protect fundamental rights and using words to provoke and hopefully persuade.
Speakers in Springfield were standing next to a statue of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln knew, and we should bear in mind, that pursuing the right thing in the wrong way weakens a cause. He would urge those of us opposing Pritzker to “have faith that right makes might” and therefore to temper anger, but not resolution, in any fight for what’s right, true and just.
In that spirit: it’s just wrong to compare J.B. Pritzker or his governance to the Nazis. It is deeply offensive to use the swastika symbol or to caricature Pritzker or any other American political opponent with a Hitler mustache — and that Nazi analogies are used so frequently by others does not make this ok.
The scurrilous, offensive and frequent Nazi name-calling Democrats and some media figures employ against Republicans in general and Trump in particular is equally appalling. For example, just a few weeks ago, House Democrat Majority Whip Jim Clyburn outrageously compared Republican Trump supporters to German Nazi supporters. Nazi name-calling is wrong no matter who does it.
We need to always remember the unprecedented evil, slaughter and suffering that Nazi rule begat and never trivialize it or disrespect its victims by using it as a shorthand meme for attacking another American with whom we disagree. Just don’t do it. Ever.
Speak freely, but know this: Nazi comparisons offend and don’t persuade. Our cause will be undercut when one sign out of a hundred is wrong — that sign will be news and will define the character of everyone associated with the protest. Fair or not, we need to be better all the time in order to earn the chance to govern and prove it. When in doubt, protest the way Lincoln would: with wit — and with malice toward none, with charity for all and with firmness in the right.
Richard Porter is a lawyer in Chicago and Illinois’ National Committeeman to the Republican National Committee