Letter to the editor: Iowa growing ‘unwelcoming, intolerant, ignorant’

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, center, joined anti-vax extremists Kimberly Reicks of Ankeny, left, and Emily Peterson of Ankeny in signing a May 20, 2021, bill outlawing mask mandates.

To the editor:

We live in a society. We interact with other humans. They have different thoughts and ideas, different goals, different life experiences, different looks and more. How fabulous!

It seems that in our time here on earth we should all aspire to make life as pleasant as possible for ourselves and others. Do no harm. Tolerate. Be kind. Work together.
Yes. There will be challenges, conflicts, heartache and more—it’s a given.

But there are ways in which we can work to both increase joy and pleasure for all, and work to limit the conflicts. It doesn’t mean we all agree (that would be boring) or all conform to one ideology. No.

It means that we seek to understand, to learn from others, to develop empathy, to see things from others’ perspectives and step outside our own bubble. Ask. Listen. Question. Learn. Embrace diversity.

What is the downside?

Being skilled in communication, relationship building, and empathy are tools to pave the path for effective and learning-filled interactions with friends, family, significant others, co-workers, community members, and politicians.

These skills make you marketable—a valuable co-worker, leader, problem solver.
How does it not make the world a better place to seek to understand others and their experiences—things we may never experience on our own.

This is what “woke” means to me. It’s not indoctrination. It’s not agreement. It’s sincerely working to understand others, learn from them, and expand our world view, and sharing our views with others.

It’s realizing that we may not all have the same experiences or treatment when applying for a loan, encountering law enforcement, seeking a promotion, buying a house, applying to colleges.

Republicans seem to have hijacked the word into being something terrifying. Too many Iowa legislators have reflexively jumped to be against anything tagged as “woke”—regardless of the consequences to student education.

Please peek behind the curtain of rhetoric and understand what is written into legislation being marketed to you as “anti-woke.” Consider the dangerous and negative consequences of these laws to Iowans now and into the future.

The world is diverse, and it’s getting more diverse. You may or may not be comfortable with this change, but ignoring it or banning books or topics in the classroom will not stop it from happening.

How will stopping students from learning about others help them successfully navigate their world?

How will it help your kids stay competitive with students from other states vying for the same job? Students who were allowed to learn about people different from them?

How will it help Iowa businesses hire co-workers and leaders who are skilled in working with a diverse workforce?

How will it help all of us learn new things that improve all our lives?

If the water is rising, it’s hardly helpful or lifesaving to demand that your kids — for their protection or your parental rights — not be taught how to swim.

I’m saddened that Iowa continues to head in a direction of being unwelcoming, intolerant and ignorant when the path to success for all would be to learn from each other, grow and develop versus believing our narrow world view must be protected and accepted by all.

Don’t pretend you’re protecting students by banning books when you are depriving them of life skills that would better help them, our state, and our world succeed and tackle the more complex problems we face versus the false “dangers” of literature or understanding sexual and gender identity.

Teach our children, don’t deprive them. Help them to be more accepting, worldly, and empathetic than us. More aware of injustices others’ may face that we may not. Let Gov. Reynolds know you do not support banning books. Current school district policies work fine in handling parents’ issues with particular books. Intrusive, invasive, big government is not needed.

Laura Stebbins


  1. Thank you, Laura. “Living in a box” may be comfortable. To awaken “woke” may stretch us to great new possibilities. All are welcome.

  2. I see you are back to incerting opinion into other’s replies. Perhaps there is a reason why I refuse to use my real name?
    Could it be you all research those who write in for the opportunity to attack them? Why else do you care? Why else would you add opinion to another’s words?
    You lied about being unable to find a book that you were defending and claimed you could not print the controversal paasenges… you’ve change words in other letters I’ve written in but you believe I’d trust you not to change words when my real name is on is on something?
    In fact you break all sorts of rules when you change other’s words but that is what media hacks do isn’t it? Attack instead of debate is the forte of hacks.

  3. Sociopaths have long used the gullible to further their avarice. They have both found a welcoming home in today’s “GOP.” Relentless greed has been distilled and refined, coordinated and celebrated, institutionalized and metastasized. Where virtue is only seen as a weakness to be exploited, the greatest crime of all, perhaps the only crime, is getting between a wealthy person and a dollar.

  4. Dear Coward, if the editor was half as bad as you say, he wouldn’t allow you to malign him anonymously. Hey, you live in a sea of MAGAs. If anyone should be afraid, it would be those of us on this side of the spectrum posting anonymously, yet we proudly stand by our statements in full view.


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