Blatant racism in Aspen |

Blatant racism in Aspen

Dear Editor:

Frieda Wallison expresses some admirable sentiments in the last paragraph of her Sept. 10 letter to the Aspen Daily News editor. She says, “Many of us, whether Republican, unaffiliated or Democrat, yearn for a serious and civil discourse of the problems confronting our country.”

On a recent Saturday morning, I was working at the Pitkin County Democratic Party voter-registration table at the Aspen Saturday Market. A man stood in front of our table for a while without moving. I asked him if his registration was up to date. He said, “It is, but the nigger’s never going to get my vote.”

I was stunned and asked, “Why would you say a thing like that?” He said, “Nigger wants my wallet. Nigger’s never going to get my wallet.”

Longtime local Carl Heck was directly to my right. He heard what the man had said and asked him the same question, “Why would you say a thing like that?” “I hate that f—ing nigger,” the man said.

On Sept. 8, again at the Saturday Market, a well-respected local was involved in an incident with the same man, who was working as usual for the Pitkin County Republicans. Near the Democrats’ table, Liz Siegel and Marcia Goshorn witnessed that man using the same disgraceful word in a discussion of voter registration. We request that Frieda Wallison, who is the Pitkin County Republican chair, remove this man from voter-registration duty. At the very least, he is not practicing the “civil discourse” for which Wallison claims to yearn.

As part-time residents of Aspen since 1974, my wife and I have relished the political debates we have had with local Republicans. For decades, a few of us would meet early for dinner, fall into our disputation with enthusiasm, and argue until closing. Three or four days later, we were ready to do it again.

At worst, it was an affirmation that the other side wasn’t crazy. Usually, everyone learned something. This election is different: personal and nasty. Every day, we read about shocking things that people all over our country express. Aspen has long been a place apart, certainly since the Goethe Bicentennial in 1949 and the founding of the Aspen Institute the next year.

And now we have come to this, a town in which a local resident feels free to walk around uttering the foulest speech with impunity. Is it all downhill from here?

Howard Wallach

Aspen and New York City

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