We can think of no one other than Vladimir Putin, conspiracy theorists, or tin-foil-hatters who doesn’t support Ukraine these days. Otsego County has stood up large for a nation thousands of miles away, a noble testament to our region’s inherent benevolence.
This newspaper has published several reports about people doing good things on behalf of Ukrainians everywhere and, we’ll be honest, we’ve reported only after hearing about the events almost by chance. Maybe we saw a social media post or a flyer taped to a storefront and thought we could amplify the cause with a notice in our paper.
We rejected the one proactive release we’ve received to date: one dated April 4 from the Otsego County Democratic Committee announcing they had raised $5,000 to send to World Central Kitchen — that’s the group preparing hot meals for Ukrainian refugees.
A worthy cause and, well done for raising the cash. The release (now deleted from the party committee’s site, by the way), finished with this nugget: “Of course, our role as the County Party is to register Democrats, and support and elect Democratic candidates, but it’s also important that we help in non-partisan ways that make our community and world a little better. We are Democrats and we support Democracy here at home and abroad, in words and deeds.”
The make-the-world-a-little-better message, we thought, was a good one — until partisan politics reared its omnipresent head. We cringed a little at the blatant grandstanding and took a pass.
But have you seen those blue-on-yellow SUPPORT DEMOCRACY lawn signs popping up all over the county? The ones that when you first see them, you think, “Yes! Go Ukraine! Go democracy!”? Look at the bottom, though, to find the web address for the Otsego County Democrats. Visit the site, and you, too, can contribute $10, $25, $250, or more to the county party apparatus to buy one of “these Ukraine-inspired yard signs” (their words, not ours) to “show our support for democracy, both here and abroad.”
We’ll give them this: at least this time — unlike in the now-deleted press release — they don’t conflate big-D Democrats with small-d democracy, but the implication is clear.
“Any proceeds in excess of printing costs,” they continue, “will be used to help elect local Democratic candidates.”
“If you would like a sign but can’t donate at this time please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try to save one for you,” they offer, benevolently.
This isn’t raising money for food or shelter, for refugees or humanitarian assistance. This is one political party using a terrible, deadly, disgusting, and unprovoked war to raise money for political purposes. It’s crass and cynical.
The great John Prine once wrote a song called “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore.” Amen, John. We’re no less appalled when people wrap themselves in the American flag to claim moral or small-d democratic superiority over those with whom they disagree, politically or otherwise.
Our message to any political organization or business would be this: Please don’t try to sell your message or your merchandise on the backs of the thousands of people already dead and those for whom life will never be the same. And in this case, if you’re collecting money by stirring our emotions over Ukraine, do the right thing and send the money where it belongs: Ukraine.