My Turn: A nonviolent campaign

For the Monitor
Published: 1/24/2022 6:01:25 AM
Modified: 1/24/2022 6:00:08 AM

As I write this on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a day where we honor the civil rights leader who advocated for racial and economic equality for all people, I am reminded that his platform was promoted through nonviolent action.

No doubt Dr. King was turning in his grave throughout the entire Trump administration and especially during the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, an attack instigated by the fire-breathing rhetoric spewing from Trump’s mouth shouting for his people to “fight like hell!”

As we enter into the 2022 campaign season, I was disheartened to read a quote from a high-level Republican consultant, David Carney, who is part of State Senate President Chuck Morse’s campaign to try to unseat U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan. Carney is quoted in the Jan. 15 edition of the Concord Monitor as saying, “we look forward to taking the wood to Hassan in the fall.”

“Taking the wood to Hassan” conjures scenes of whipping, beating, clobbering or punishing severely. Let’s not even consider the definition from the Urban Dictionary which includes a sexual component. I can’t help but think of a character in the book I’m reading right now, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, who is beaten severely by her master on the plantation with a walking cane.

Hassan is not a slave or unruly schoolchild, she is a U.S. Senator. Carney’s language is beneath the dignity of someone of his rank and privilege.

I know this is a lot to ask, but isn’t it time, in light of what has happened in the past few years, to take a pledge to rid our discourse of violent references during this campaign season? Replace “fight” with “work hard” or “do everything that is humanly possible.” Take the phrase “do battle with” out of your lexicon. No more references to “we are going to win this war.” It is not a military campaign.

Instead, just focus on what this is about. It is a political campaign, an election, a contest for the hearts and minds of your constituents. Your political opponent is not your enemy that needs to be beaten into submission or taken the wood to. You and your opponent may have ideological differences, but one person’s idea does not lead to the end of the world, which is what war is. The differences should merely focus on what is best for society. Focus on the positive, not the negative.

Please, I beg you for the sanity of this nation that is mired in a seemingly insurmountable quagmire of division, can we step back, hold our tongue, think about our words and rephrase what we are saying to comport with the nonviolent dream of Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy’s point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers [and sisters] who are called the opposition.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

(Susannah Colt lives in Whitefield and can be reached at

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