I commend you on your editorial "Stop the Racist Nonsense" (Monday, Feb. 25). It's reassuring when the media stand up for what is right.
From June through October of 2010, I lived in Northwest Montana. I was editor of a small newspaper, and was later hired to be an adjunct professor of journalism at Salish Kootenai College in Pablo. I often went in to the rather liberal Missoula as well as Kalispell and Whitefish, political bastions of the tea party and Republican Party.
My six months in Montana were among the best of my life. Nearly all of of the people I encountered were either Native American, Asian, white or mixed with Native American and African-American. In that time, during which I came into contact with a lot of people, I never encountered a racist situation. That's not to say I didn't encounter a few nuts. It's to say I met more good people, some of whom I call friends to this day.
One of my most memorable moments was a dinner at an Episcopal church in Polson. Not many black people to be found there. What I did find, however, was some of the warmest people I've ever encountered. There were numerous other similar encounters in the brief time I lived in Montana.
I've lived in seven states (Louisiana, Ohio, Indiana, Mississippi, Iowa, Washington and Montana). Iowa is my favorite for the fairness of its people but Montana ranks right up there when it comes to sincere acceptance of others of a different lineage. That's not a political observation. It's a humanitarian one.
Yes, the "yahoos" do get the publicity. But I can tell you from first-hand experience that the Montanans I encountered, regardless of their political affiliation, don't fit that profile.
If you or any of your readers want to find some genuine racist yahoos, I invite you to Louisiana, where one of the early Republican presidential contenders for 2016 is the current governor. I invite you to New Orleans, where nine undercover state troopers attacked two young African-American male teenagers who were standing in the French Quarter on Mardi Gras while waiting for one of their moms, a uniform New Orleans police officer.
The Republican Party may be commended for its swift response condemning the act but the GOP has a larger challenge ahead. It must eradicate the culture of perceived hate and racism it has shown this president since his first day in office. It must eradicate the venomous language of some of its own 2012 candidates for president and replace them with a message of opportunity and equality.
I've known racism. I've known it among people who wore sheets of intimidation and among those who wear carnival masks for frivolity. There's not much difference.
Lovell Stephen Beaulieu
New Orleans, La.