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George Pyle: Utah to America: We’re sorry

Attorney General Sean Reyes and Sen. Mike Lee don’t really grasp the concept of democracy.

A woman looks at a section of the "Americans" exhibit that explores the historical context of the Trail of Tears, at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018, in Washington. A new exhibit uses images of Natives to show how the population permeates American culture. The "Americans" exhibit has received good reviews, but some say the accompanying website falls short in its characterization of an 1830 U.S. law that forced thousands of American Indians off their lands. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

A letter to the United States of America,

We’re sorry.

On behalf of the state of Utah — or, at least, the sane precincts of it — I wish to humbly apologize for the recent behavior of two worthies who purport to speak for us in the halls of power and the public arena.

Please understand that, as a one-party state, Utah sometimes sends signals that it doesn’t grasp the finer points of democracy. It can be really embarrassing sometimes. Please understand that it isn’t the whole state that’s made up of Your Crazy Uncle. Just a few of the more outspoken ones.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes was among 19 state attorneys general — all Republicans — who joined a motion to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to overturn the results of the presidential election. That effort is exactly what the attorney general of Pennsylvania says it is, a “seditious abuse of the judicial process.”

Reyes hopped on the bandwagon steered by Texas A.G. Ken Paxton, who was asking the Supreme Court to throw out election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin because election officials in those sovereign states had the audacity to make efforts to get more people to vote, even as the COVID-19 pandemic made it risky to do so.

Reyes and his friends insisted the suit was in the interest of protecting the integrity of the election from fraud and mismanagement. But it is that claim that is clearly the fraud. Otherwise, they wouldn’t just be attacking the electoral process of states won by Joe Biden.

There is one reason, and only one reason, to do this. You are against democratic government and think it is fitting and proper to use every tool in the box to overturn the outcome of a free and fair election to get the result you want.

The court, acting rapidly and firmly, rejected the case Friday. But just the fact that it was ever raised will help to undermine the faith of millions of Americans in their electoral process, crippling Biden’s ability to do what we elected him to do as it helps the soon-to-be-exiled president to build a fancy Elba and raise funds for a glorious return to power in 2024.

Well, OK, there are two reasons. The other reason is that you are an insufferable toady who wet himself at the chance to have lunch at the White House with the current occupant, a dream Reyes fulfilled Thursday.

Not everyone in Utah agrees with Reyes’ extracurricular activities. Gov. Gary Herbert and Gov.-elect Spencer Cox, Reyes’ fellow Republicans, went out of their way to issue a statement describing the lawsuit as a waste of taxpayer money.

And speaking of anti-democratic, there’s Sen. Mike Lee. For whom much of Utah also apologizes. Again.

The other day the Senate was about to give final approval to a long effort to create two new museums under the umbrella of the Smithsonian Institution, a National Museum of the American Latino and an American Women’s History Museum, when Lee took advantage of a parliamentary trick to block the move.

He was the only senator to have a problem with the effort. Other Republicans, including Utah’s Mitt Romney and Maine’s Susan Collins, openly disagreed with him.

Lee’s rationale is that we don’t need any more specialized museums for separate parts of American history. That building them is just more “separate but equal” stuff that divides rather than unites us.

But America, even for a relatively young country, has a lot of history to remember. That’s why the Smithsonian already has a network of 19 museums, and a zoo, which includes one for Native Americans and one for African Americans. And one for airplanes and one for postage stamps.

Dividing the exhibition of that history into chapters is a good way to tell the whole story. Unless, of course, you don’t want to read the whole story. Unless you are more comfortable with the image of America as a white patriarchy and bothered by the idea that there are other threads in the tapestry.

Please, nobody ask Lee what he thinks of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Lee apparently wants to be the opposite of what we now call “woke,” which means to be aware of the many issues of social and racial justice, perhaps to the point of actually doing something about them.

So, what’s the antonym of woke?

Asleep? Too passive.

Snorer? That’s more descriptive of someone who manages to disrupt the peace while not being aware of his surroundings.

And it also sounds like “schnorrer,” an old German-Yiddish word that means an annoying small-time freeloader.

Sounds about right.

George Pyle.

George Pyle, editorial page editor of The Salt Lake Tribune, doesn’t know what he thinks of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum because he hasn’t worked up the courage to go inside. Maybe next year.

gpyle@sltrib.com

Twitter, @debatestate





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