‘Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”

– 1 Peter 2:12

Many White County residents have taken on a bad reputation over at least the last year. And that bad reputation is because they consider themselves to be Republican.

In the November general election, more than 78 percent of voters in White County voted for Republican President Donald Trump. And what we’ve found out in the last year or so is that Republicans are:

racists who don’t believe that black lives matter.

anti-maskers who ignore one of the key ways that health experts have said we can help limit the spread of COVID-19. (And they are anti-vaccine as well.)

election deniers who believe that there was widespread voting fraud, that Trump won and stormed the U.S. Capitol or supported Wednesday’s coup attempt.

The list could go on, but these three things are enough to make being a Republican look like a terrible choice. However, if you’re like me, you don’t personally know any Republican (or many) who is any of those things.

The ones you know might believe that all lives matter, including the lives of the police who are trying to protect us. They might believe that masks don’t do much or any good, but they are wearing them in public settings anyway. And they might believe that there was some election irregularities but nothing that would overturn the results or be reasons for us to abandon democracy.

What we’re seeing nationally are new stereotypes being developed (and some old ones being reinforced) based on the actions of a relative few. Most American voters fall somewhere between the extreme left and the extreme right, but it is the extremists who set the stereotypes because they make the most noise.

That’s the way it usually works with any labeled group. The beliefs about the group are based on the bad examples. There are socialists in the Democratic Party, but most Democrats do not want socialism. There are bad police officers, but most police officers try to enforce the law properly. There are journalists who make up stories, but most journalists try to find the truth and report it. There are Christians who are hypocrites, but most Christians are trying to follow what they believe.

We must be careful not to lump everyone together just because they bear the same label. Stereotyping has been around practically since mankind came into existence, so we need to make sure we don’t fall into that trap.

That includes not justifying the actions of those who wear the same label as us. Some Republicans/conservatives have been trying to excuse the actions of the extremists when they need to be condemning them for it. Just because the ones who are doing these things call themselves Republican, it doesn’t mean Republicans should give them their support.

It’s been sad to hear a Republican legislator or a friend try to explain away the choices made by the extremists as if they have to back them just because they are considered to be members of the same party. (Full disclosure: I don’t align myself with either political party, and just vote for whomever I feel is the best candidate in each race.)

There’s no doubt that some Republicans here in White County fall into the same category as the extremists. Most do not, though, and have been given a bad name because of the ones who do. Justifying the stereotypes that have been created only gives that bad reputation credence.

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