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ERICH LONGIE: Cramer owes Merrick a more sincere apology

FORT TOTTEN, N.D. -- We Dakotas are easy to get along with. After all, our very name signifies friends and/or allies. And, we are pretty much assimilated into the mainstream society, so we no longer become all warlike when a Caucasian verbally as...

FORT TOTTEN, N.D. -- We Dakotas are easy to get along with. After all, our very name signifies friends and/or allies.

And, we are pretty much assimilated into the mainstream society, so we no longer become all warlike when a Caucasian verbally assaults our winyans (women) in a meeting. Besides, our winyans are tough; they don't need anyone's help to deal with a person who apparently does not have any respect for them as human beings.

But, at soon to be 60 years of age, I still have some of the old ways in me that were taught to me in my youth. I was raised to respect women and to defend them when they were being mistreated, especially if that winyan is a relative.

Therefore, I'm going to speak up on Melissa Merrick's behalf, as she is a younger relative of mine. I also believe Merrick's version is the correct one of the conversation between her and U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D. ("Cramer in hot water," Page A1, March 29).

So, I am going to point out the obvious in Cramer's tactics as he scurries around in attempts to do damage control.

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In my opinion, Cramer is going way beyond the bounds of decency in responding to Merrick's account of what transpired at a meeting between them. He is trying to turn the attention away from himself by bringing up the Spirit Lake Tribal Council's transgressions.

While the council's problems' are well-documented, pointing them out neither lessens nor excuses Cramer's verbal attack on Merrick. He also said, "once a victim, always a victim" when describing why Merrick's version differs from his. It's another attempt to deflect the focus away from him.

Blaming the victim is the worst possible thing a person can do to a woman who has been a victim of abuse.

Cramer also arrogantly points out that the manner of discussion he used in the meeting was more suitable to the floor of the U.S. House. This is the most condescending excuse I've ever heard. He's implying our women are weak and should be treated as women who are submissive to men. This is so sexist I'm can't believe a man of his stature would suggest it.

As for Cramer's statement that the misunderstanding might have been the result of his tone and rhetoric which is better suited for active debate in Congress rather than in addressing the protectors of our most vulnerable citizens -- I have to ask, what the heck does he mean by this?

I have never watched an active debate in Congress, but I'd be more than willing to debate the constitutionality of the Violence Against Women Act with him in the same manner that people debate in Congress or in the manner that they debate anywhere else, for that matter.

Frankly, other than knowing Cramer was the Republican candidate for the U.S. House, I didn't know much about him. I didn't vote for him because -- well, he's a Republican.

But now, I have personal reason for not voting for him, as well: his character, or lack thereof.

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In closing, I want to make sure I'm not prejudging Cramer; he might very well be a good and decent person. So on that assumption, I will make him this offer.

We Dakotas are a tolerant and forgiving people. Therefore, as Merrick's older relative, I will take it upon myself to take my favorite star quilt off my wall and present it to Cramer to help lessen his anger toward my relative.

I hope this overture will help him think about his innuendos, half-truths and accusations when he is recounting his version. Instead, maybe he will put aside his anger and make a sincere apology and take full responsibility for his words.

Should Cramer give a sincere apology, we will shake his hands, hold a feed and drop the matter. After all, we are all North Dakotans, and we should all strive to get along.

Longie is president of Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc.

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