Dear Editor:

Great societies and nations do not descend into Orwellian horror shows in a flash. It happens incrementally.

Leaders come to power harboring thinly veiled despotic ambitions. They are often legitimately elected by the frustrated yet vocal minorities of deeply divided nations. They surround themselves with others of similar ilk, often more cunning but less charismatic than themselves. And they find an ethnic or religious minority to demonize and blame for the woes of their angry base. While decent, conscientious people are cowed into silence. The persecution begins. Divisions are widened, offenses are invented and arrests and deportations begin.

And so we saw in Moab when federal U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents swooped into town and abducted several of our community members.

I’d like to take a moment to salute those few dozen Moabites who took a stand and demonstrated against this invasion of our town.

Coward though I am, I would have been marching alongside you had I not fled the heat and tourist mobs for the summer.

I would also like to thank Moab City Police Chief Jim Winder for his remarks questioning the wisdom of the raid. While measured, his comments showed a moral courage that has been sadly missing from what I’ve seen among other local officials. While all I know is what I’ve been able to glean from the local papers, elected city and county officials seem to be walking sideways away from taking a definitive stand as quickly as they can. Perhaps they are afraid of taking a beating in the polls.

Nevertheless, the time for silence is past. Racists and despots have nothing to sell but lies and fear. They’ve never had more than that. They never will. And it is time for Moab to take a stand.

I was having dinner with a friend shortly after I learned about the raids. I was lamenting the direction our country has taken and pondering the best course of action.

My friend looked at me. “How about a monument to the disappeared?”

This particular friend is brown, gay and a woman and, rightly so, feels increasingly like she is living under a triple threat. It was one of the best ideas I’ve ever heard her come up with.

Moab has an abundance of public art, of which it should be quite proud. Likewise, it has many gifted, creative and conscientious artists. I would like to take this opportunity to invite one of them, many of them, all of them to begin work on sculptures and murals to commemorate those we have lost on that altar of fear and lies that seems to be governing our country.

I would also like to challenge Moab Mayor Emily Niehaus and the city council, all of them good, conscientious people, to find the courage to stand on the right side of history and display it prominently in our town.

Steve Seats