But how do I thank those who helped get me to this state of mind, this knowledge that we — this newspaper and this company — can perhaps foster conversations and dialogue that could help our part of the world in 2021?
An email exchange on Monday with a reader was just the catalyst I needed. She offered, in a very civil manner, to correspond with the writer of a letter to the editor and provide evidence contrary to the position he had taken. In this case, the letter writer had said Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the election were dangerous to our democracy.
The woman who sent me the Monday email disagreed with that conclusion, and in fact emailed a link to a laundry list of reports and stories from media sources that were claiming the election was indeed fraught with widespread voter fraud, that Trump had actually won. She held strong to this belief on Monday, Jan. 4 — two months from Election Day — despite the fact that around 60 lawsuits making such claims have been thrown out, including one that came before the Supreme Court and others that were heard by GOP judges appointed by the Republican president and approved by the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate.
After a few emails back and forth, my tone became more terse than usual. I told her that one can have any opinion one wants, but facts are vastly different than opinions. Our conversation ended with her calling me “rude” and declaring our email exchange over. Again, this interchange never strayed from civil, which in itself is unusual — though much appreciated — in political discussions.
So I was prompted to write this column. Yes, there are many who will write me off as a liberal and say that my opinion is totally without merit merely for stating the fact that there is no credible evidence of election tampering of a magnitude that would change the outcome of the presidential election, not a shred. For those who would dispute my claim, here’s a follow-up question: do I also get criticized for saying that my confidence in the integrity of the election means that I also believe without question that Madison Cawthorn is my congressman, that Kevin Corbin, Mark Pless, Mike Clampitt and Karl Gillespie, Republicans all, are the valid state senator and representatives for those of us in this area of Western North Carolina? They won, fair and square.
Those who view the entire world through the lens of politics seldom see clearly, no matter the issue or which side you’re on. A few minutes on Facebook will prove that. As a media source, it is our duty to provide readers with fact-based reporting on the news pages and opinions — like this one — on our editorial pages, and to invite those who disagree with me or our other writers to also send us their letters and columns. We’ll publish them as long as they aren’t libelous or in poor taste (profanity-riddled diatribes or personal attacks on private citizens or businesses).
But this column is really about gratitude. I want to thank those who disagree with us — like the reader with whom I had the email exchange — and those who see value in what we do. As 2020 came to a close, it means a lot that so many readers and advertisers are still with us. I’m so appreciative that so many have made financial contributions to The Smoky Mountain News this past year. We couldn’t do what we do without your support.
How do we say thanks? We keep doing what we’ve been doing — working hard to provide a credible forum for a discussion of the important issues facing this region — while at the same time promising to always look for ways to do our jobs better. Onward.