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Cartoon postcards mailed to Idaho lawmakers mock BSU president, diversity initiatives

Idaho

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Boise State students Ryann Banks, Kaleb Smith and alumna Tai Simpson respond to a letter signed by a group of Idaho lawmakers who are critical of BSU’s diversity and inclusion programs. | BY DARIN OSWALD

BOISE – An unknown number of Idaho lawmakers and state officials received postcards in the mail Monday morning that mock Boise State President Marlene Tromp, state education officials and the university’s diversity initiatives.

The cards, which have Spokane postmarks, include cartoons depicting Tromp and members of the Idaho State Board of Education as clowns, covered with the statements “BSU & Idaho Ed. Clown World” and “Idaho Taxpayer Ticket Price: $425,000 and sacrificial children.”

Boise Democrats Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb and Sen. Maryanne Jordan told the Idaho Statesman they received the postcards Monday morning.

Buckner-Webb said she was angered by the postcard, calling it “derisive” and “divisive.”

“More than that, it was very incendiary, that kind of language,” Buckner-Webb said. “I would say it was childlike, if it wasn’t so incendiary. That kind of rhetoric can inflame communities.”

Boise State’s diversity and initiative programs have been embroiled in controversy for more than a week. The controversy began when 28 Idaho Republicans signed a letter asking Tromp to roll back the university’s diversity and initiative programs.

The letter, penned by Idaho Falls Rep. Barbara Ehardt, included detailed criticisms of a wide breadth of programs for minority students, including scholarships for DACA students, graduation ceremonies for LGBTQ and black students, and other initiatives.

Some of those programs were also referenced in the postcards.

Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb, (D-Boise), received this postcard Monday morning depicting Idaho education officials and Boise State president Marlene Tromp. | COURTESY OF CHERIE BUCKNER-WEBB

“Idaho State Board of Education invites Clown World to Idaho in the personage of new BSU President Marlene Tromp,” the back of the postcard reads. “Clown World features scholarships for illegal aliens. Alt-gender cult center for LGBTQ creep clowns. A gaggle of diversity clowns to gobble up fat paychecks while violating Idaho students. Pronoun scramble on the rainbow stage.”

The postcard also mentions and includes depictions of Idaho State Board of Education members Linda Clark, Don Soltman, Emma Atchley, Andrew Scoggin, Debbie Critchfield and David Hill, as well as Idaho State Superintendent Sherri Ybarra.

Buckner-Webb and Jordan said they were taking the postcards seriously — especially since they received similar postcards from the same group about a month ago. Both said the previous postcards, also postmarked from Spokane, mocked Islam and Muslims. Jordan said she was so disturbed she sent that postcard to the Idaho State Police and requested an investigation.

“I just think this just points out the need for protections for minorities and for the LGBT community in the state of Idaho, because this is the stuff that is out there,” Jordan said. “Some people may think this is a joke, but it’s not. It’s threatening and ugly and it needs to stop.”

Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb said she was angered by the postcard, calling it “derisive” and “divisive.” | COURTESY OF CHERIE BUCKNER-WEBB

The website listed at the bottom of the postcard, infocomms.org, bills itself as a “peaceful, lawful and legal citizen activism operation.” The Idaho Statesman found posts featuring the BSU cartoon and the postcard mocking Muslims on the website. Based on forum posts dated to the first week of July, the BSU cartoon and postcard was apparently created after Tromp was selected as BSU’s new president and before Ehardt wrote her letter.

The Idaho Freedom Foundation published a column June 14 addressing the same points and concerns outlined in Ehardt’s letter, saying BSU had “joined the legion of left-leaning institutions that are using their campuses as state-sponsored platforms for intolerance, division and victimhood.”

Buckner-Webb said she also reached out to Gov. Brad Little this morning, asking if he could make a call for civility among lawmakers.

The Governor’s office has yet not responded to the Idaho Statesman’s request for comment. The Idaho Statesman has also reached out to Boise State for comment.

“I just think we have to hold ourselves accountable and responsible for what we do, and think of the impact it has on not only one group, but on all of us,” Buckner-Webb said. “We need to be clear. Leadership needs to lead by example and not by lip service.”

This article was first published by the Idaho Statesman. It is used here with permission.

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