Commentary

Editor: Solons’ silence shatters more than glass

By Guy Page

Why so little reaction from high-profile current or former Vermont State senators about the vandalism perpetrated at the State House Saturday morning?

It’s a campaign season, for pete’s sake. Normally you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting some candidate loudly expressing their devotion to the State of Vermont and its favorite public meeting house and museum, the Vermont State House on State Street in Montpelier. 

Saturday morning, someone(s) scrawled graffiti critical of the Supreme Court overturning Roe V. Wade. Knowingly or not they defaced a section of 1859 granite that is both historically valuable as part of the 1859 construction of the “third” State House, and a bear to clean. Old granite is extremely porous. Hard to remove spray paint from a pitted surface. Unless Building and Grounds can work a miracle, people walking through the august front doors will first have to see scrawled graffiti or walk over a mat or (perhaps worst of all) a replacement piece of granite. 

But that’s not the worst of the physical damage. Seven of the 10 windows on the front of the first floor were smashed. Most of the broken windows have been replaced. 

On reflection, the worst of the shattering isn’t to the building, but to Vermonters’ faith in the Senate itself – the people, past and present, who sit in the 30 chairs in the Legislature’s upper chamber. 

Vermont Daily Chronicle has been reading headlines and social media since Saturday, searching like Diogenes and his lamp for current or past state senators to strongly condemn this vandalism.

No-one. Zilch. Crickets. Pretty much tri-partisan silence. 

Sometimes silence speaks louder than graffiti.

It’s not like former state senator Phil Scott is averse to commenting on inappropriate activity outside the State House. Two years ago, when an unknown person reportedly made a racist comment at a pro-police rally on the State House lawn, now-Gov. Scott was all over that, in sorrowful tones condemning it at a press conference. 

How about former state senator (1991-92) and current U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, not typically slow on the verbal trigger to express his “outrage?” Alas, no Burn from the Bern. Ditto zilch from former Senate Pro Tem and now U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, now running for the U.S. Senate.

Condemning the SCOTUS decision in an op-ed in yesterday’s Vermont Daily Chronicle, Sen. Joe Benning (R-Caledonia) invoked the image of the upraised hand on the statue of Ethan Allen. And yet he said nothing in the op-ed about the graffiti scrawled just a yard away from the iconic statue on the State House portico. Thankfully the black spray paint missed the 1941 replica of Larkin Mead’s original 1861 statue of the Vermont founding father. 

Update: to be fair to Benning, he DID make this post yesterday on his Facebook page: “I am very disheartened to hear that our statehouse has been vandalized, likely by someone upset with the US Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs that overturned Roe v. Wade. Violence by anyone (and I include in that definition destruction of property) is simply unacceptable. While I especially abhor targeting “The People’s House,” violence anywhere cannot be tolerated.”

The Chronicle missed this post in our social media scan. Although we still wonder why there was no mention of the incident in the op-ed. But in Sen. Benning’s case, anyway, we stand corrected.

Senate Pro Tem Becca Balint at least could be expected to speak out against the desecration of Senate committee rooms. She’s the sitting President of the Senate – so you’d think, right? But you’d be wrong. The progressive candidate for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. House was asked to comment by email. We’re still waiting. 

Vermont Daily Chronicle did run into Sen. Andy Perchlik at the post office. When asked, he uttered a mild rebuke, saying the vandals apparently don’t understand that the Vermont Legislature has done more for ‘reproductive liberty’ than any other state assembly.

We welcome any comment an elected official cares to offer, however belated, of if we just haven’t seen it yet.

By contrast to others, Lt. Gov. and Democratic candidate for Congress Molly Gray issued this statement the same day the vandalism occurred:

“As Vermont Capitol Police reported this morning, the Vermont State House was vandalized last night. The unknown vandals broke seven windows across the front of the building, including my office window. They also spray-painted the front portico, stating, ‘if abortions aren’t safe, you’re not either.’ I am alarmed by these attacks on our State House – my workplace – and condemn them in the strongest possible terms. Vermonters are feeling deep anger and frustration in the wake of yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling. I share this frustration. However, threats of violence and destruction of property are absolutely unacceptable and never the solution.”

Gray is a strong supporter of abortion rights. But for some reason, she has risked the wrath of the Woke Wing of the Democratic and not remained silent. Perhaps, despite her youth, she knows that someone has to be the grown-up in the room. Or maybe, it’s because (as she noted) it was her window that got broken. No vandals walked around the building and broke Becca Balint’s first-floor office window. Nor did they toss a rock up to the second-story windows of Gov. Scott’s ceremonial or working office. 

Or maybe some former senators are too busy thinking about elections to pause and publicly defend the State House environs, which like stepping stones everywhere are forgotten once their usefulness is over.

Categories: Commentary

28 replies »

  1. What a sad commentary on our political representatives. Where is the minimum security should have been there to protect the capital? We need a complete shift from feel good to rule of law government.

  2. Guy: Have you not seen my comments about this on both my personal and candidate Facebook pages? Please correct your story. Thank you

    • Why not send out a press release to the media. Not everyone me included read your Facebook pages.

    • Facebook. Really. That’s it? Where is an actual announcement from you in the news media? I just searched the following outlets for your remarks. Nothing on VPR. Nothing in the Times Argus. Nothing here on VDC or on TNR. Nothing on VT Digger, the Burlington Free Press, Brattleboro Reformer, Bennington Banner, or your own Caledonian Record.

      You can falsely accuse SCOTUS justices of lying easily enough. But not a word to the public at large about the violence in Montpelier. You really are quite the pretender, Mr. Benning – no correction required.

    • Facebook? Seriously? An appropriate venue for disseminating public statements from an elected official? The story above is correct. You have not issued a statement and I would read into your lack of a statement that you condone the vandalism.

  3. Ironic that the same liberals who love to refer to conservatives as “nazis”, are silent on this, their kristallnacht moment…

  4. The failure of Vermont’s political leaders to speak out against the attack on the Capital cannot be dismissed by saying: “It’s a campaign season, for pete’s sake”.

    The failure of Vermont’s political leaders to speak out on the attack on the Capital is a demonstration of a lack of character and gross hypocrisy. This is especially true since this country is currently going through a so called investigation into an insurrection at the US Capital being run by Democrats and cheered on by Progressives……..The same parties of Democrats and Progressives who are remaining silent in Vermont when its Capital has been attacked.

    It is this lack of character and hypocrisy that earns the politicians the consistently low regard they’re held in by the voters……..Where are the Vermont leaders who will speak out when wrongs are done?

  5. Under the FOIA, please ask for access to the video feeds of the state capital building, parking lots, adjacent side streets and alleyways. If any of the vandals turn out to be state employees we can begin our own January 6th commission ….

  6. These Statists know that the Vermont Citizenry is fast asleep unless it’s collective “Ministries of Truth” (Free press, Seven Days, Digger) announce a wrong has been done against the State. Given that the recent violence and mayhem was for a Progressive cause, we get the collective yawn from these “ministries”. (nothing to see here, let’s move on). These are all scoundrels that deserve the attention of free thinking Vermonters. At the very least, any non-Progressive candidate running for office in 2022 needs to constantly reminder Vermonters of this hypocrisy and how they have been wronged by this mob.

    • My beliefs on just about everything are the opposite of Molly Gray but it is encouraging to see that she has the courage and class to condemn the violence in her own party.

  7. Thanks for this commentary and the 1859 granite history . I’m going to go back there next week and look at that granite!

  8. Thank you Patrick Finnie….”The silence is deafening, yet speaks volumes.” I think we all draw the same conclusion…….

  9. Does the popular expression: “silence equals violence” apply in this case, or do we have the ideologies switched the wrong way again? I know… it gets confusing. We have been conditioned by the demoprogs and their media handmaidens that rage and destruction is acceptable if it is uttered in the name of “social justice”, AS THEY DEFINE IT. Dont expect any prosecution.
    The Vermont State House is the venue of perhaps the MOST pro-choice Legislature in the US.
    The fact that it was targeted with this thinly veiled THREAT toward it’s elected officials who serve within is a testimonial to the ignorance and incomprehension that pervades the American Left. In these polarized times, any threat made has to be taken seriously. If intimidation influences the way that an elected official acts, then is that not some level of INSURRECTION? There, I said it.
    Thank you, Guy for pointing out who the adults are.

  10. On Tuesday April 2nd, 2019 I attended a hearing at the State House on proposed suicide/gun control legislation. I witnessed what I considered a deplorable act perpetrated by the committee chairwoman Maxine Grad when she chastised pro gun rights advocates, and demanded that 4″x 6″ American flags not be waved in approval of speakers at the hearing. A silent, respectful act of support shut down, and yet now they are silent about this vandalism ? Life is good when you have a super majority, and you don’t have to worry about hypocrisy

  11. The sad thing about this whole issue is that people are miss informed about the abortion issue. The US Constitution does not support abortion and does not affect the States Constitution. Here in Vermont, abortion is still legal in all stages of pregnancy, this includes aborting a baby during the birthing process.
    It is a shame that the news reporters do not do their due diligence in searching for the truth and reporting the truth. Instead, the news skews the facts and interject what they personally believe.

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