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Editorial: Responses were good example for picketer kids

The story and images from the Fairchild Air Force Base’s humanitarian visit to Vasilievka, Kyrgyzstan, appeared on the same day that Westboro Baptist Church was spreading its vile messages throughout the Inland Northwest.

Warriors on a mission of hope. Congregants on a mission of hate.

In Kyrgyzstan, children played with Airman 1st Class Jessica Wilson, enjoyed the balloon creations of Tech Sgt. Joe Corder, and broke out in warm smiles after receiving their new winter coats.

They also would find blankets and stuffed toys in the nap room. The base had already ensured the installation of new windows at the school.

The children learned lessons of compassion. They received messages of hope. They experienced positive role models.

In and around Spokane, the Westboro children were enlisted to hold “God Hates” placards, just as they have throughout the country.

They’ve been indoctrinated by a family cult that believes God smiles upon the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the slaying of gay student Matthew Shepard, mass college campus shootings, mining disasters and even cancer.

Just before the arrival of the men and women from Fairchild, Kyrgyzstan preschool children were giddy. As the principal explained, “They’re always happy when the Americans come.”

Nobody rejoices upon the arrival of the chilling Westboro clan, which once scribbled a “God Hates Soldiers” sign and held it aloft at the funeral of Matthew Snyder, a Marine who was killed in Iraq. They finance their forays by suing municipalities for violations of free speech. They’ve studied the line carefully and hope others cross it. This cynical use of the First Amendment complements their contempt for decorum.

To counteract the Westboro appearances on Thursday, hundreds of people showed up at Gonzaga University, Moody Bible Institute, Whitworth University and Ferris High School, among other places. They planned to do the same in North Idaho today.

Some of these institutions planned events to divert attention from the Westboro pickets. This is reminiscent of the region’s “Lemonade from Lemons” events that were staged to counteract neo-Nazi parades and rallies.

It just goes to show that we are a tolerant community and that people can be motivated to spread positive messages. We hope this outpouring can seep into the impoverished souls of those innocent Westboro children.

If any kids need positive signs, it’s them.

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