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Steve Ahlquist is an award-winning journalist, writer, artist and founding member of the Humanists of Rhode Island, a non-profit group dedicated to reason, compassion, optimism, courage and action. The views expressed are his own and not necessarily those of any organization of which he is a member.

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"We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” - Elie Weisel

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu

"There comes a time when neutrality and laying low become dishonorable. If you’re not in revolt, you’re in cahoots. When this period and your name are mentioned, decades hence, your grandkids will look away in shame." - David Brooks

7 responses to “Fact Checking DePetro”

  1. Ericka

    Roger Williams went through a great deal of trouble to make sure religion was not part of the government of RI. This country is not a theocracy. I think that having the tree, and calling it a holiday tree is fine. People who need to spread hate and lies in the name of Jesus, or any other deity, is just an a**h***. It is just a shame that this is spread by the media in the name of profit. He should be fired and his followers should be ashamed of themselves.

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    1. DogDiesel

      Calling it a Holiday Tree at the State House and then a Christmas Tree at home is just dumb. Just don’t put it up next year and we won’t have to suffer through this battle of reality versus political correctness. Dump the ‘holiday candles’ lighting too.

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      1. Watchemoket

        I respectfully disagree. That is exactly what should happen – call a public display on government property erected and maintained by public funds a generic Holiday Tree, and call whatever display you erect at home with your own money whatever you want to call it.  Religion is a personal matter, not a public issue and certainly not one into which any government should intrude.

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        1. DogDiesel

          I think you’re missing my point. Just as is a rose, a Christmas Tree by any other name is still a Christmas Tree. If it offends the masses then remove the tree. I don’t care if the tree is there or not but this game of charades is silly. I don’t understand how changing the name matters. Doesn’t it insult the intelligence? Was Vietnam a war or a police action? I’m no Depetro fan but he and the Governor share the blame for this fiasco. Call it what is or get rid of it.

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          1. Art Handy

   is a good read on the origins and traditions of the tree.  One interesting nugget – the first tree in the Vatican wasn’t put up until 1982.
            The most important thing to me in response to is can it be anything but a Christmas tree is this: when Europeans pagans converted to Christianity they brought the tradition of the tree from their Scandinavian traditions. 
            Anyway, I like the tree, froma  traditionalist standpoint, and have no trouble with the Gov calling it a “Holiday Tree” in the interest of inclusion, he is not stopping anyone else from calling it what they like (also pretty inclusive btw).

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      2. PinkHatLib

        What’s funny is that this is clearly a case of the religious rights’ call for political correctness. Recall that the term means “the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult certain groups of people.”

        Is that not exactly what the angry right is suggesting, that politicians avoid the use of language like “happy holidays” or risk offending the fringe? The left may have concerns regarding seperation of church and state, but I’ve never heard anyone claim to be offended by the word “Christmas.”

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  2. leftyrite

    Cultural civil war is obnoxious.

    But still not as bad as the other kind.

    I watched, before it was too late to stop myself, a man pull

    a ragdoll dead little child out of the rubble of a proxy war in Syria.

    Spain. Guernica.

    Wars of energy, hot money, wiseguys,

     very little honor.

    and children from Central Falls, West Warwick, Pawtucket, and Cranston, who come home to..what??

    Hatred, division, civil schism, weakness,

    ultimate takeover of our freedoms 

    from the outside. In a trickle or a tidal wave.

    Couldn’t happen? Already did, to a shocking extent.


    Come on, Caretakers, the time is here.

    The time is now.

    Heal the republic.

    Heal your state.

    Heal your town.

    Heal yourself.

    No World War III.

    No terrible lack of imagination.

    Hold on to your need to orient yourself

    in the sun and the blue and the green.

    Push back in the cultural civil

    in a way that will

    preserve your innocence, your conscience, your honor,

    and your desire to be of use. 


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