Mr. Traynor: Betsy Hart here. As you know, I am a key focus of your film “Tip of the Spear.” I think those following the film on this page may be interested in knowing more about your history with me, and this controversy. The good people here should know that you never contacted me directly in any way – ever – to ask your questions or for any reason. But, I will speak directly to the falsehoods the film includes and am happy to do so here, and I think folks will find it useful.
You posted this recently on Facebook, to me (in a response about the film):
“Dishonest and embarrassingly self-aggrandizing to the last. And let’s just hope it’s the last. If you EVER want to have an honest debate, or answer a direct question with a direct answer, Betsy Canfield Hart, you let me know. I’ve not told a single lie or misrepresented a single thing over the last three months, and we both know it. Can you say the same? The good news is that 75% of voters realized it. We’ll work on increasing that awareness next time. In the interim, enjoy those lemons. They sound awfully refreshing.”
Mr. Traynor, I have never, ever, understood your personal attacks on me. “Dishonest and embarrassingly self-aggrandizing to the last.” Where does that come from? The post I authored, no posts I have authored, merit such an ad hominem attack response.
You have never, ever contacted me by phone, email, messenger, or any other way, even as you made a film maligning me, and others. You have only angrily and sarcastically demanded answers via public Facebook posts. But even when the questions put forth in such posts were answered completely (both in other posts of mine on the same site or in a long form “interview” I created, and you admitted to reading in its entirety!)
To be clear: you have the correct information about what I outline below, but continue to share false information in spite of it, most recently in your film:
1 – There is/was NO outside money involved in PONT. There is/was no outside influence involved in PONT. All those who created the website, all those who served on the steering committee, and almost all of the 430 people who became part of Parents of New Trier were either New Trier parents, or taxpayers. No doubt others outside the community found it interesting, infuriating, or newsworthy. It was in fact all those things.
2 – My brother, a part-time missionary, helped created the website platform, which the moms behind “Parents of New Trier” in particular then took responsibility for building all the content on it, and maintaining;
3 – We funded expenses we had ourselves. It never occurred to me or any of us to raise money for an effort we cared about, or to make money off of it, as you have now done.
4- There was ZERO coordination with candidates dealing with a caucus system I literally knew nothing about, until a few weeks ago.
Mr. Traynor, this information has been succinctly and clearly shared with you. You admitted to receiving and reviewing it. Yet, you posit that we are lying about these things anyway. So then – here is your proof Mr. Traynor? It wasn’t in your recent film. There you offer not one shred of proof of your conjectures about anything. Not one shred. You over and over again looked at the camera and said, “Now, I don’t have proof of this, but I think. . . “
You declare connections that don’t exist in order to create a flawed picture in the mind of others. It’s the equivalent of me saying, “is Mr. Smith a drug addict? Is Mr. Jones a recovering alcoholic? Do they cheat not their wives? Well I can’t say for sure. You decide!”
In addition to the information about us you already had, the wrong information you are spreading includes;
– You, in the film, twice declare Parents of New Trier is a c3 tax exempt organization, suggesting that this has consequences for the activities we are allowed. This is wrong. We are not a legally organized group in any way, tax exempt or otherwise. Why on earth would you “report” that we are?
– You presented as some sort of smoking gun that I was NOT at the November parents meeting on the Seminar Day content. Mr. Traynor, YOU were not at that meeting. I was. Why would you so erroneously report that I was not there, and suggest that is some sort of proof of a scheme? Several of us concerned parents were at that meeting. That’s where I began to connect with other parents, and that produced the “Parents of New Trier,” a group of many hundreds of New Trier parents along with New Trier taxpayers, 430 total, and then about another 100 or so from out of town, at the time we took our petition down – not a handful which you allege. Our goal was to add intellectual diversity to New Trier’s Seminar Day on race. That’s it. That’s all it was. Why this hate-filled and dishonest response?
– In various public posts you have tried to create a disparity that doesn’t exist: for instance, website founders vs. steering committee founders. They are different. So what?
Mr. Traynor, my consistent experience with you, in person and via social media, is that you do not engage on the issues on the merits, with intellectual honestly, i.e., the reasons the black community is disproportionately suffering and so on. Rather, you bear false witness in order to shut down debate. As an example, I’ve quoted one of your posts above, and in response I have shown exactly where you have lied, and how you have misrepresented several specific things, not just in your film but over the last three months, about me and others, many but not all of which are outlined above.
And you continue to do it. Yes – I can say that I have not. I have at times poked fun at you and if I offended you, I genuinely apologize. (I don’t offer that in the “If I offended you but I don’t think I did” way. What I mean is I don’t know if my tendency to be humorous, typically sarcastic, wherever possible, offended you, If so, I would like to know.)
But I have never lied about you, or used ad hominem attacks on you, or misrepresented you.
The larger issue Mr. Traynor remains that real parents of New Trier – hundreds of us – had real concerns about what we felt were the biased content of Seminar Day, and out of a care for the New Trier community and our kids, we voiced that. I don’t control the media any more than you do, but apparently they felt this was a real story too.
Mr. Traynor, what if from the beginning you and your friends had, instead of attacking us, said, “hey there are parents and community members who feel excluded. We might not “get” that, but let’s approach the school together and see if we can come up with a few extra chairs at the table so everyone feels like they had a voice.”
If so, NONE of this would have happened. Instead, those of us who felt excluded weren’t just excluded, we were vivisected. And long after it was over the attacks continued, including in your movie with utterly ugly and false premises about nefarious conspiracy theories and taking “dark money” – lies. You conjecture in order to create false pictures but don’t offer a shred of proof.
Why? What is in that response for you? If you didn’t agree with us that’s fine too – lying about us is not.
I honestly don’t think the reason is just money or attention. I think it’s something else. Fear of new or different ideas, for starters. Needing to stop them, not engage them.
I do not believe it should be this way. I think engagement and debate and celebrating diversity of thought in the marketplace of ideas is the best way to deal with such fears.
It is certainly not deliberately misrepresenting and maligning others in the community, instead of debating on the merits. You – and your backers who are promoting or sharing this film – have done a grave disservice to the community Mr. Traynor.
Sincerely, Betsy Hart