For Oak Park's arm-breaking tendencies at self-congratulation over matters of diversity, there really are moments when we need a good smack upside the head.
This week we've got a story about the Howells, Mary and John, a long-time Oak Park couple who carry the ultimate stigma in this village: They are politically conservative and proud and vocal about it. That would explain the "Repeal Obamacare" sign that had been nailed up in a highly visible spot in their Jackson Boulevard backyard in recent years. It would explain the front yard lawn signs. And while we all can rightly and proudly claim the flag, it isn't a surprise that the Howells also had a big, old American flag displayed.
We first got a call from Mary Howell after the flag was stolen earlier this summer. That was, she said, the culmination of years of petty and personal abuse they had endured: Being vigorously cussed at by people in passing cars, even by people on foot. Their large signs being vandalized, the lawn signs being stolen.
This certainly isn't the way Oak Park should behave. If we profess to accept all people, we might start with the conservatives among us.