Opinion » Editorial

We've hit peak "us vs. them" ire. Is this who we want to be?

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Some locals think the Kingdom of Bend is "full," and want to pull the drawbridge up.
  • Some locals think the Kingdom of Bend is "full," and want to pull the drawbridge up.


W

hen someone vandalizes a beloved landmark, the reaction is usually disgust, mixed with a dose of "Oh, that was just kids being dumb kids." Vandalism, as a whole, is not something people who care about their town and their quality of life typically condone.

That is, unless that vandalism contains a message against tourists. That's what appears to have transpired, right here in our fair city.

Last week, we reported on the vandalism at iconic Pilot Butte in a blog post titled, "Get Out Of Our Town' Painted on Summit of Pilot Butte." In most circumstances, having someone paint a hate message across the pavement and in the bathrooms at a place that locals and visitors alike frequent would be something that would be met with annoyance and indignation.

But in this case, much of the irritation was not directed at the vandals, but at the source of the vandals' frustration: Tourists and visitors who don't "live in our town."

Following the brief post, the Source's social media feeds were inundated with comments, many from people arguing in favor of the "get out of our town" mentality. Commenters posted GIFs with "Get the F@#$ Out" messages, rationalizing why the vandals were justified, and community members battled back and forth with other, more sensible people who seem to understand that

A. Not all visitors are here to stay and "ruin" Bend, and
B. That not all visitors and transplants come from "dreaded" California. (Indeed, the majority of transplants to Central Oregon are from Oregon and Washington.)

Is this how we want to be? Are we the type of town where vandalism and hate is condoned publicly? We hope not.

To that end, we appreciate the commentator on our feed, who posted:

"Ironic that some natives/longtime locals complain about newcomers acting entitled and disrespectful because that's exactly how you come off when you act like you're entitled to have Bend all to yourself and tell people to get out! That just adds to the negativity that you're supposedly mad about. Overpopulation is a problem all over the world and unfortunately, a beautiful place like Bend will not be spared from that issue. Lead by example and keep it positive. Write your elected officials, go to town halls, etc. if there are problems you want fixed."

The impact of new visitors and tourists is going to have an impact on our community. It is incumbent on all of us to remember that there are two ways to move forward. We can be proactive in shaping the kind of city we become and embrace the changes we are facing, or we can go low, hurling insults from outside the process.

The scenery from Pilot Butte has always been amazing; let's not let a few bad apples spoil the view.


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