Slouching towards Amherst


There was a time, not so very long ago, when Wakefield residents of sound mind would hear about towns like Concord banning plastic water bottles, roll their eyes and think, “There but for the grace of God…”

Then Wakefield Town Meeting banned plastic bags. And as long as they had the troops mustered, the forces of inclusion decided that the Board of Selectmen had been too male for too long and needed to be renamed “Town Council.”

“Well,” levelheaded local residents could still tell themselves, “at least we’re not like Amherst – passing local resolutions on national issues.”

Well, think again.

Wakefield’s march toward Peoples’ Republic territory continued this week, as the Board of Selectmen’s agenda featured a resolution calling on the federal government to enact greater gun control.

Have we run out of local issues to deal with?

Not quite.

Contrary to what many people think, the aforementioned Town Meeting vote last November didn’t settle the Board of Selectmen vs. Town Council matter. Before the name change can become official, it must be voted at the April 24 Town Election.

So, a majority of the Board of Selectmen decided this week to send a letter to the editor urging local citizens to vote in favor of the name change from Board of Selectmen to Town Council.

When the government starts telling the populace how to vote, it’s usually not a good sign.

Bob Dylan once said, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” It’s not hard to figure out which way this vote is going to go. So, the letter smacks of political overkill, which may be the entire point.

The selectmen have certainly adopted positions as a board in the past. But what impulse moves a government body to actually take pen to paper and hector citizens on how they should vote?

The letter cites Brookline as an example of a town that changed the name of its Board of Selectmen to a gender-neutral name “to reflect a commitment to inclusivity and diversity.”

That’s swell, but I’m not sure that preaching the virtues of Brookline is going to appeal to anyone outside the choir.

“A gender-neutral name not only benefits women but also signals that Wakefield is a welcoming community open to all,” the letter declares.

Wakefield doesn’t need to be lectured on how to be a welcoming community. Wakefield has always been a welcoming community. But now we’re being told that our character and institutions no longer measure up. Now, we must always be signaling our “inclusiveness,” but for whose benefit?

Wakefield people are good. Wakefield people are smart. They don’t need lessons on being welcoming or on the virtues of inclusiveness.

And they don’t need to be told how to vote.

Wakefield may be changing, but it’s not changing that fast. An activist minority is intent on turning Wakefield into the Amherst of eastern Massachusetts, while the apathetic majority whistles past the ballot box.

I’m going to miss my hometown.

[This column originally appeared in the April 12, 2018 Wakefield Daily Item.]

One Response to “Slouching towards Amherst”

  1. BRAVO!!! I applaud your article. The PC crowd is alive and well in Wakefield.

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