An Open Letter to Washington County GOP Chairman Jerry DeWolf

Dear Mr. DeWolf:

We respectfully ask for your indulgence for just a few moments so as to communicate candidly, succinctly, transparently, and sincerely about how your online behavior, in conjunction with your political rhetoric, has fostered division, disharmony, and hatred.

Please understand that we write to you from a position of peace, humility, and respect. We speak for ourselves and only for ourselves.

We unequivocally believe civil discourse trumps rhetorical social media tropes and drive-by partisan attacks. We humbly ask that you take time to understand our position and work towards mutual reconciliation.

The collective values that we hold close to our hearts – family, friendship, public service, fidelity, social activism, and a fundamental belief that all Americans were born free, and that equal justice, under the law, is always blind – are perhaps not that dissimilar to your own values; although we may express said values differently.

Our families are most precious to us, especially our children. I think we relate in this matter.

It is our responsibility to hold the proverbial moral line; our kids are watching, after all.

Moral relativism in practice and theory – both in politics and in life – often falls short. Make no mistake: dubious moral principles from all sides takes its toll on relationships. It can ruin profound friendships (and the pain of a ruined relationship is intensely difficult to swallow).

We all come up short every now and then, and we must own and take responsibility for of our actions. And we believe in the power of forgiveness.

Emotional maturity is the foundation for healthy relationships, for what it’s worth; it’s allowing someone to meaningfully apologize when they make even the most egregious mistakes, as well as having the humility to embrace said apology and accept a person’s brokenness and their flaws.

We have a strong faith in the perseverance of the individual. We fervently embrace the notion that every American has a sacred civic duty and a fundamental responsibility to strive towards forming a more perfect union.

The path that we take to achieve progress is perhaps slightly different than yours, but we believe that we share with you a profound and abiding love for this uniquely American experiment.

Admittedly, there are times we have come up short in our mission to civilize political dialogue; we take full ownership of our shortcomings, but we continuously strive to do better and to be better – for ourselves, for our children, and our communities.

While it may certainly be true that your intentions are rooted in authentic public service, your recent online behavior is unfair;  your unscrupulous attacks have adversely impacted us – and many others.

We wish to provide you several examples in which your behavior has created divisiveness and eroded the possibility of civil discourse.

Dan’s Restaurant and Tap House has taken a vocal stance for social justice and equality. Its messaging has clearly and consistently advocated for inclusivity and tolerance. It is a message of kindness, love, and hope.

As such, we are saddened by your often extreme and hyperbolic mischaracterizations of a local business integral to a community we love and respect.

We are confused by your anger directed at the Taphouse and its ownership, though we seek to understand it.

You are by no means obligated to patron the Taphouse (we respect your right to choose), but it is our perception that you have openly waged war on the Taphouse owners and its supporters.

  • You have characterized Taphouse ownership as “radical extremists” and political “Marxists;” this characterization is patently false and wildly absurd. The values the Taphouse has espoused are simply those of common, human decency;
  • You have perpetuated the false and offensive notion that Taphouse ownership, employees, and supporters advocate for violence and destruction. We find this outlandish accusation appalling.
  • We vehemently reject your characterizations that the Taphouse is “anti-law enforcement.” The Taphouse stands in solidarity with first responders and LEOs while also advocating for social justice; we do not believe that these concepts are mutually exclusive ideologies;
  • The Taphouse is welcoming to everyone, but it will never tolerate racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of hatred and bigotry. The Taphouse is uncompromising in its principles; never will it engage in a Faustian bargain or day trade to bolster its ledger;
  • The claim that the Taphouse recently “bussed radicals” into Boonsboro for a peaceful rally in support of Joe Biden is patently false. Admittedly, we were shocked by the detractor’s racial undertones that out-of-town guests  – from Baltimore City – would be most unwelcome in Boonsboro.
  • The pro-Biden rally was peaceful; Taphouse staff, supporters, and guests were met, however, with hostility in the form of coal rolling trucks donning Confederate flags. Moreover, Boonsboro Police did nothing to rectify this illegal act.
  • The peaceful political rally held in front of the Taphouse on October 18 was bizarrely misrepresented  by you (and others) as “anti-law enforcement.” Again, we emphatically reject your characterization of the event and we feel it resulted in undue hysteria.

On Sunday and Monday last week, we received over 150 threatening and harassing phone calls from a Hagerstown man who specifically referenced the Washington County Republican Central Committee in his angry telephone tirades.

We certainly do not blame you for one man’s unhinged behavior.

Still, we cannot help but feel that your political rhetoric directly encouraged additional (and unfair) backlash aimed at Taphouse ownership, families, employees, and A Miner Detail.

We appreciate that you apologized for your social media post that mocked suicide within a political context – but please understand that the meme you posted was beyond hurtful to millions of families who have lost friends and loved ones to suicide.

We do wonder how you initially believed such an offensive meme was even appropriate for publication.

To be blunt, the content of said meme was deplorable. What would inspire you to publish a painful and triggering post?

Your latest post mocking suicide is but one additional example in a revolving door of conspiratorial, incendiary, and divisive posts published at the behest of the Washington County Republican Central Committee.

We believe your latest social media faux pas is apropos of not only how far we have fallen as a society, but also how low the bar has been set.

If you endeavor to leverage your position as chairman of the local Republican central committee to attack private citizens, business owners, and members of the media with feckless rhetorical ambushes, we wish you the best of luck.

We do ponder aloud, though: What is your end goal? What is it that you seek to accomplish in your role as a public servant?

We assume that your time is valuable, as is ours.

Why expend resources, time and emotional equity attacking a local business and its owners and supporters when you already have political home-field advantage in Washington County?

We suspect an erudite academic like yourself is familiar with French economist Frédéric Bastiat’s 1850 essay “Ce qu’on voit et ce qu’on ne voit pas” to illustrate why destruction, and the money spent to recover from destruction, is not a net benefit to society.

The same economic concept applies to how you expend your political capital in a community with a monolithic political power structure – one in which you are seated at the head of the table.

When you could have been assisting your preferred presidential candidate in one of many swing states (e.g., neighboring Pennsylvania), you instead expended significant time over the last several months belittling and targeting a small business in a community that is already overwhelmingly supportive of your preferred presidential candidate.

(President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. thanks you and other local Republicans for your restraint in visiting Pennsylvania. We only wish you would advocate with similar fervor for the president to put down his Twitter machine and finish his term saving lives and working to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.)

Our incredulity cannot be understated.

We understand that you have remarked repeatedly that “liberals” are intolerant of anyone who disagrees with their viewpoints; you have suggested, even, that we believe anyone who disagrees with our views is “racist.”

Your unfounded notion could not be further from the truth.

It is undeniable that systemic racism exists today in many of America’s small towns; sadly, Boonsboro is no exception.

To that end, it is our goal to open a dialogue around these pressing social and racial issues with a fierce sense of urgency.

We find it odd that while you preach tolerance and acceptance of your personally-held political beliefs, you have demonstrated in both words and deed(s) a distinct hostility towards opposing viewpoints.

It is fair to say we are confounded by your “do as I say but not as I do” course of action: You accuse those with whom you disagree politically of intolerance and extremism, while you simultaneously demonstrate intolerance yourself.

We want to talk to you. We wish to engage peacefully and respectfully. Any time you are ready to break bread, we welcome you with open arms, as we believe that the only way to heal division is through sincere dialogue.

We welcome the opportunity to work together to advance social and racial justice, and we invite you to the conversation, whenever you decide the time is right.

This op-ed was authored by Dan’s Restaurant and Tap House co-owner Charlotte Aufdem-Brinke and A Miner Detail Editor in Chief Ryan Miner.

***This post was updated on Nov. 17.***

Ryan Miner Administrator
Ryan Miner is the Editor in Chief, Founder, Senior Political Reporter and Publisher of A Miner Detail. He is the host of A Miner Detail Podcast.
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