Write opinions long enough, and one day you’ll have one that shocks even yourself.
Today is that day. I’m going to defend Garry Bredefeld.
First, let’s get something gin-clear. By “defend” I do not mean “agree with.” I do not agree with anything the city councilman representing northeast Fresno wrote in his latest Twitter rant.
In fact, I find Bredefeld’s views on social issues repugnant and him to be personally repulsive. Just listening to him talk, in his holier-than-thou, condescension-oozing manner, makes me want to hit an invisible mute button.
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But I’m going to defend him, regardless. On his personal Twitter account, Bredefeld is entitled to say whatever he wants. He can be as divisive as he wants. He can be as pigheaded as he wants. And if he feels like twisting truths about proposed changes to the abortion laws in New York and Virginia to perpetuate factually inaccurate tropes, that’s his prerogative, as well.
It’s 2019. He’s hardly the only politician doing these things.
Twitter being the public stomping ground that it is, Bredefeld’s detractors also have every right to lodge their displeasure. The fact that he digs in and lashes back against them only shows he enjoys being the trigger of their outrage. And that it’s all part of his calculus.
“Many of those people who differ with what I’m saying, they’re like many of the people in this country who support infanticide, who are against God, who are anti-American, anti-Christian, anti traditional values, against police, and against military,” Bredefeld told The Bee’s Brianna Calix.
So in other words, if you disagree with Bredefeld then you’re mostly likely to be an un-American, pagan-worshiping revolutionary baby killer.
Sure, Garry. Whatever you say.
Honestly, I prefer when our elected officials reveal their true character in public settings. I appreciate when they paint their detractors with extra-wide rollers. At least we know what they stand for and who with. Much better than the ones who retweet racist hate speech then proceed to grin from the dais like Alfred E. Neuman. (See Brandau, Steve.)
And unlike former Fresno Unified Trustee Brooke Ashjian, at least Bredefeld has the courage of his convictions. Ashjian, as you’ll recall, made a controversial statement in 2017 to a Bee reporter that teaching state-mandated sex education curriculum to schoolkids may “sway” them to become gay.
Ashjian, like Bredefeld, was entitled his to his view. But when asked to explain his words, instead of responding “Yes, I said that, and here’s why,” Ashjian claimed he was misquoted, or taken out of context, while calling the reporter names and attempting to publicly smear and intimidate her.
To his credit, Bredefeld didn’t take the slimy way out. He stood up for his words and beliefs. And personally, I’m glad the city councilman took this opportunity to reinforce our mental image of him. It’s been a while.
It was Bredefeld, as you’ll recall, who championed placing the words “In God We Trust” behind the dais of the City Council chamber. Even though actual religious leaders from Interfaith Alliance of Central California wrote a letter in opposition.
It was Bredefeld who, out of nowhere, delivered a nine-minute tirade that followed President Donald Trump calling NFL players “sons of bitches” and criticized them for kneeling during the national anthem – and hired a crew to film his fiery oratory.
And it was Bredefeld who two weeks later, after fellow Councilman Oliver Baines and several African-American pastors decried his remarks as “inflammatory” and “ignorant,” issued an apology. Except that time, there was no film crew to capture the moment.
“As a psychologist, my work has always been about healing people, certainly not creating wounds or pulling off scabs from old wounds, which clearly I did,” Bredefeld said at the time. “And for the pain I have caused, I sincerely apologize.”
At least we know he has some shame.
Personally, I’d prefer our supposedly nonpartisan local electeds to steer clear of national issues. Fix the potholes in our streets, find solutions for homelessness and ensure police and fire are adequately funded. I don’t care one iota about their views on abortion or ‘toxic masculinity,’ whatever that is.
Bredefeld, however, has never seemed content to represent only the people of his district. He clearly has grander aspirations and has embarked on a careful strategy to stake out the most conservative position on every issue. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he’s plotting to challenge Lee Brand in the 2020 mayoral race.
Good, let him. This is a democracy, after all. And if Bredefeld’s tweets and general grandstanding cause stronger, better-funded candidates to oppose him the next time his name appears on a ballot, even better.