Opinion | Susan Knopf: Moral questions about people and the environment | SummitDaily.com

Opinion | Susan Knopf: Moral questions about people and the environment

Susan Knopf

Just after 2 p.m. Tuesday, I got an action alert to attend the Frisco Town Council meeting at 4 p.m.

“Opponents of the #BLM mural on the street outside the town hall are petitioning to create a Make America Great Again mural. … Show up in solidarity and (in) support of Black Lives Matter, and to stand up against racism in our community.”

I already had an appointment to talk to Sen. Michael Bennet’s staff. So I emailed and called some folks, and that’s when the deluge started. Frisco was getting lots of emails. According to one town council member, nobody knew anything about it.

I finished my call and dialed into the Town Council Zoom meeting in progress. There were 150 people on the call! I never heard a single person talk about a Make America Great Again mural. Breckenridge real estate agent Kim McGahey, a Republican running against Rep. Julie McCluskie for the Colorado House of Representatives, never spoke. 

Summit County commissioner candidates Tamara Pogue and Josh Blanchard spoke in favor of the Frisco Town Council’s decision to embrace the Black Lives Matter movement and permit the beautiful mural painted on Main Street.

Blanchard, a Colorado Mountain College faculty member and executive director of Lake Dillon Theatre Co., called the mural, “culturally relevant and historically grounded.” 

I was most moved by those who said the mural had nothing to do with politics. Evan Harris said, “It’s a human rights issue.”

Timmy Moutrie said, “It’s not about politics. It’s about caring for other people. … It’s about the value of human life.”

It’s not political; it’s a moral issue. Then I struggled with the immorality that has embedded itself in the movement: The not-so-peaceful people who are fire bombing the federal building in Portland, and defacing private and public property.

That’s how everything and everyone is: the moral confronting the immoral and sometimes commingling, confusing us.

This is about the politicization of morality.

We see it with COVID-19. Why is medical data political? It’s truly immoral to exhort your supporters to move against their own best health interests.

We see it with the environment. That’s what I was talking to Bennet’s people about.  

Republican Sen. Cory Gardner faces former Gov. John Hickenlooper in the U.S. Senate race this November. Gardner just figured out the environment matters to Coloradans. Gardner has been in lockstep with Trump to defund and leave unprotected our wild places and recreation areas. Now he’s trying to establish himself as the environmental candidate with his TV ad blitz.

In a world where Sen. Mitch McConnell controls the gateway to lawmaking, Gardner takes credit for a bill to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund for the first time since it was established in the 1960s.

“This is decades in the making,” Rep. Joe Cunningham, D-S.C., told The Washington PostDecades.

For the record, Bennet has worked tirelessly to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

“After a decade of leading this effort, I’m thrilled that full funding for LWCF has passed the House and Senate,” Bennet said. “This is the culmination of years of hard work by Coloradans — from county commissioners and local elected leaders to conservation groups, hunters and anglers, and outdoor recreation businesses. They have put in the work, year after year, calling for Congress to fully fund LWCF, invest in our public lands, and support our state’s economy. Their dedication and advocacy are why we were able to pass this bill.”

We are grateful it passed as well as a plan to clear the backlog of maintenance at our parks. But Gardner claims the credit? It’s an election year. I think Ivanka Trump gets the credit for convincing her father. We all know Gardner doesn’t make a move without him. Trump has consistently defunded the conservation fund.

I admire Bennet for giving credit to the people for having the tenacity to see this through. Hopefully, we’ll all be able to muster the same force and get the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act passed. The act protects 400,000 acres of our land for recreation and conservation, ultimately for the benefit of our economy.

That same tenacity, that same moral compass will shine through and help us find social justice for all our people. Even if immoral people get in the way or take credit for our work. 

Susan Knopf’s column “For The Record” publishes Fridays in the Summit Daily News. Knopf has worn many hats in her career, including working as an award-winning journalist and certified ski instructor. She moved to Silverthorne in 2013 after vacationing in Summit County since the 1970s. Contact her at sdnknopf@gmail.com.

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