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Two decades ago, I tried some garlic ice cream at the Gilroy Garlic Farm festival. Four thousand volunteers from the local farming communities come together and celebrate garlic. It’s wicked hot, but it’s fun.

I also had lunch in El Paso on my way across the country, and I drove through Dayton once to get to a concert. I’ve been to these cities, and I am grieving.

Americans argue and disagree, but then we still work together. It’s called a representative democracy, and it’s worked for centuries. Sometimes the arguments get heated, but we still sit down together and solve our problems together.

Four days after the terrorist attack in Gilroy, our president demonized hard-working Americans who look like me at a rally. He demonized the Americans he thinks his “base” dislikes. He encouraged violence instead of dialogue. He encouraged spitting, killing-level hatred instead of community.

Fifteen minutes after he first called the shooting in El Paso “very bad,” our president tweeted about sports. He tweeted to one of his political fans: “Fight hard tonight Colby! You are a real Champ!” He was probably just making his usual self-congratulatory noises, but what better way to show these young domestic terrorists that he doesn’t really care if they kill?

I want to live in an America where we talk and listen to each other with respect, even when we disagree. An America where we don’t shoot each other out of hatred.

I grieve for what my country is becoming.

KIM WHITTLESEY

Urbana

News-Gazette